Issue 43

February 2013

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STRAY NEWS

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You Can Make A Difference.

I reached the dressing room and sank into a chair grateful for the sanctuary it offered. I felt hot, uncomfortable and sweaty after carrying costumes, props and make-up boxes up interminably long flights of staircases through this veritable warren of a place.

My eyes drifted slowly around the room viewing the heavy burgundy and gold curtains, frayed along the bottom edges, which blocked out most of the daylight. The dark, heavily embossed wallpaper, here and there patched or missing altogether, added to the dismal sense of gloom.

Faded chintz chairs, some with cushions missing, were pushed against the walls in a random fashion. We were in an old provincial theatre shoddy and worn out with time and neglect. A relic clinging stoically to glorious days now long gone.

It was on the very fringe of the fringe. Our theatre company had taken so long to raise the money for this project all the best venues had been booked long ago. All the cast of players were going to be using  this one dressing room. Apparently it was the only one left with a full set of illuminated mirrors that still worked. Fortunately we were few in number and used to changing together in less than ideal conditions so we could have, at least, the pretence of cosy camaraderie.

I was sitting at a mirror opposite the ‘new girl’ fresh out of drama school. Poor creature, I thought, leaving behind those dreams and aspirations to face the harsh realities of a provincial touring company. In time she would be ‘broken in’ with a vengeance.

She had been staring at her face for some time before picking up the first make–up stick and tentatively applying a little colour. I watched her try different colours moving her face from side to side to observe the effects and could see the mounting frustration and disappointment at her failure to achieve the result she was hoping for.

She knew I was watching her and eventually turned towards me waving her hand despondently over her make-up tray.

“Does any of this really matter?” she asked, a tear coursing slowly down her cheek.

“Oh yes,” I answered, “this is all part of the mask that hides you, the secret, inner you, from the audience out there. Today the play is about the lives of circus clowns. You need to create the unique face of a clown whether happy or sad that will be your mask. Build your colours layer upon layer and create a shell around you so that when you look in the mirror you see only the character you are to portray today. It is easier then to become that character and start to think and feel as they would feel. Apply your make-up to cover the tears and paint on a smile to hide the sadness you feel. That is what the clowns had to do whatever the personal trauma they were suffering at the time.

It was the clowns’ job to go out there and make ‘em laugh. They had to make a difference.

“You can make a difference.”


Brian Hey

Another contribution from Brian. Is anyone else out there writing? How about it?       Editor