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Thespian Wedding
Damnit, this hair has removed my anonymity... In the shop just now, I saw Mr Walters, my old drama teacher and the person in charge of the extra-curricular drama society thing I belonged to. I didn't recognise him at first with short hair, and by the time I did, I'd as good as walked past him and it would've been awkward to stop and turn back, but he smiled at me out of recognition. He hasn't taught me in five or six years, and he still knew who I was - that's reassuring.

Ah, I remember the days back when I was an actor (emphasis intended to highlight the pronunciation of the "tor" syllable - it's very important when you're pretentious, as I am)... Looking back on it, I wasn't bad... I used to go to this drama club thing when I was about nine years old, that's where I first met Becca... After that, I joined the local youth theatre, and was in the school productions (both musical and dramatic)... Nothing makes one feel quite as alive as theatre, especially good theatre, just because success in acting hinges on the very vitality of your performance.

And looking back to GCSE, I worry that I only got a B. Then I realise that it's quite possible that we were the victims of some ridiculous moderation by the examiners, because mine was by far the best male grade in the school, and so there must have been something wrong there. And yet, I never won the lead in plays. I don't think I ever specifically auditioned for a lead role - there was something about already being the focus of attention that lacked a challenge. Who wants to be given attention? Far more fun to earn it. Or maybe I was just too scared to audition for the lead role, ever since Dave (mentioned in a previous post) beat me to it in Ali Baba back when we were ten, or the time when I was eight and screwed up my lines in a play where I was a snowman...

Whatever the reason, I never performed to an audience in the lead role of a production - I wrote myself into a few lead roles for performances in front of just my drama class certainly, but never for an audience. But I still feel I did well for myself. I used to do better improvisation than most in our class, just because I could think quicker than many of them. I remember one time, we were paired off and had to improvise a scene in front of the group, and I just randomly improvised a "coming out to my parents" scene, which totally freaked the Hell out of the guy I was working with, because he didn't have a clue how to handle it. And not in the sort of way that makes for plausible characterisation - more in the way that he looked at the teacher despairingly and gave up halfway through.

So difficult to find good supporting actors these days..... And then for some reason, I stopped. I have a feeling that if I were to blame anything, it would be the computer, and specifically the Internet - I had a new way to act out a character, for a much larger audience. The dangerous thing about that is that it can go beyond typecasting, and you can actually become that character, as I did. The notion of "The Unknown James" started off as an invulnerable egocentric characterisation which allowed me to just express myself in the way that I wanted, and gradually the line between the actor and the part just blurred. And deep down, I'm still that shy actor who never wanted a starring role, who just stayed at home and memorised all the lines to every part for the sake of it. And then on the surface, and going a little deeper than I'm comfortable with, there's the part of a confident (though not self-confident), funny (in my opinion), rather overly flirty young man who has only just recently realised that he grew up.

Somebody once made a reference to half their life being a case of acting out a character, and that was something I realised I had in common with her. This entire thing is all a charade, but it runs too deep to stop, and I don't think I'd even want to. All the world's a stage, and right now, I've got the part I always wanted.


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