Sir Thespalot: Acting

“The Vagina Monologues? Do you play a vagina?”
“So what, you just chat about sex?”
“Vaginal issues…like thrush? It’s a play about thrush?”
“Is it gross?”
“My First Period! Is it basically that? It’s that, isn’t it!”
“Well, no, it’s more about women’s perceptions of…”
“Oh! Do you hate men?”

These monologues were written over a decade ago but the impact is still fresh. It’s so easy to forget the shock factor of ‘vagina’; my friends wince a little bit when I say it. The sentences above are all real responses I’ve had when I tell them what I’m acting in. People are a bit scared of it. “I’m not sure…I don’t know if it sounds like my thing…”

Less than a week to go until opening night and things are clicking wonderfully into place. It’s a funny perspective you hold of a play, as an actor, looking at the piece from your part outwards and relying on someone else to have an overview from the outside in. You barely even see the technical side of anything – you just assume someone else is doing fine organising it all…

The monologues have no stage directions and some of them have been chopped up between actors, moved around. It’s exciting to have so much freedom; it’s even more exciting when you’re working with great actors and an inspiring director! The rehearsal process is so raw. I can’t think of another situation where you have to squash your own self-consciousness so heavily; I’d usually feel a bit squeamish telling my friends about my lady parts so frankly, let alone a theatre full of people I don’t know. The play really makes you challenge yourself – your preconceptions, cultural taboos, accepted stereotypes. The script is by turn hilarious and heart-wrenching, rehearsals are lively and stimulating…with such an energetic cast the performance looks set to be exhilarating, moving and empowering. It’s this process – being part of a team, bringing the piece together and watching it fall into place – which makes the acting so fun!

By Charlotte Goodman

February 2012
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