So. I’ve been chewing over this for a while. I’ve been wondering what did ‘Only’ at the Old Vic say to me? I’ve decided that it spoke of: authenticity, courage and celebrating the love, loss and intimacy of everyday life. Oh and some nice things about staging.
Authenticity is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As a soon-to-be-student of-acting-once-more I’ve been trying to remember some of the basic principles of my earlier teachings in preparation for my summer class. Also as you know I attended a leadership course for work, back in March, and the issue of authenticity or authentic leadership was very much at the fore of this as well. So. I looked it up, and according to the people of the Wiki:
“authenticity” describes the perception of art as faithful to the artist’s self, rather than conforming to external values such as historical tradition, or commercial worth’
So was the performance faithful to the artist’s self? Absolutely. It was a frank, bold and pleasingly non-self indulgent account of the actor’s/ performer’s/Adam’s/Mr Peck’s life. Perhaps I am a big fan of this piece as I can relate to it so closely. I was an only child (not technically but I grew up alone) I lived at number 11. I also believe hamsters to be stunningly inadequate when placed in the category of significant childhood pet/friend. Relationship regrets, bemusements and mistakes are common to most people to a lesser or greater extent. I went to hospital – although they fiddled with my tonsils rather than any testicles and I also had a friend who I never got the chance to really know, who also died from Leukaemia whilst we were young.
So as I ponder the secret of arts appreciation perhaps then your own experiences and values will always colour your interpretation of a piece and to what you get out of it, which will then always be different to others who watched it.
Trouble is, I’ve been to a couple of productions now where the ‘actors’ were not really acting – and whatever connection you had with them, however fleeting it felt real. Direct. Organic. Moving. I decided on a change of tack on Saturday and took myself off to see a play and despite it being very well acted.. it was just… well…. too… *acted* When comparing with the experiences I’ve had recently, everything seemed suddenly one dimensional.
So, am I buggard for life now then? (theatrically speaking)
Is theatre-going, going to be the same again?
I’ve been thinking about staging and I really enjoyed the piece from my solo chair in the middle of the room. Again I’m building my knowledge as I go, so no expert, but I felt the staging really enabled us to consider Adam’s story as an individual, involved us in his account and enabled us to sit side by side with him and watch the other characters in his life around us unfold. It felt to me almost as if I was Scrooge in Dicken’s ‘a Christmas carol’ as he is visited by the ghosts of his Christmas past.. the scene around was familiar, the characters came, went, walked amongst us and we were simultaneously both a participant and observer in the events of Adam’s life.
Courage is the second thing I’m pondering after this performance. In order to be authentic you need to have the courage to be yourself and tell your story regardless of whatever outcome might occur. It was courageous. To stand and admit:
I/we/they, are human.
Ultimately despite the inherent loneliness of the story, I felt surprisingly uplifted by the end. It was a story of self-acceptance not self-indulgence. A key thing that struck me was how the piece seemed to draw attention to the intimacy and significance of everyday life. We could consider those moments with families, friends, even fleeting encounters with strangers. Moments which occur simply every day, hold much meaning, yet we perhaps take for granted. Watching this piece made me decide that the best kind of art is that which does just that: draws attention to the significance of everyday life. Here and now.
So that’s what my conclusion will be, when it’s time to tell my own story… and this is something I feel that ‘Only’ has inspired, and given me the confidence to try and do…..
It was a commendable and heartfelt performance…
Art…Theatre…It’s powerful stuff.