Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life Imitating Schlokk

Many actors I know have the occasional performance nightmare. I mean that literally - a bad dream that revolves around a performance. Typically it's the on-stage variety. My own version has me waking up (or suddenly become aware of being) on-stage, naked, behind a couch. There's no way to sneak off stage without being seen and, while I could just wait for the play to end, I realize that my cue is coming up and I will have to deliver my lines! Fortunately, the dream ends before I have to make a scary decision (no doubt a relief for both actor and audience).

Last night was a double helping of anxiety. I dreamed that the horror movie "Train" I was in, was actually real. This is a first, mind you. Movies hadn't previously crossed over into my sleep world. I found myself tortured and on the run from a bunch of crazies. Not terribly pleasant, as you might imagine. (You'd imagine vividly if you happen to have seen the actual film, in which case you have my apologies)

Cut to: me racing on stage to beat the rapidly unfurling curtains for a performance of Not the Midnight Mass, an a capella group I was once a part of. I don't know which number we're starting with. Graham blows the pitch pipe and I'm desperately trying to guess the song. Somehow I'm able to pick up the number, but there's choreography too - and I haven't got a damn clue where to move. I manage to exit from the front of the stage - actually, I fall off the edge and plop to the floor. It gets a laugh, so I play it off by making a real effort to climb back up, as if it's Mt Everest. Eventually one of the cast lowers a chair next to me, so I relent and, throwing my arms in the air for the benefit of the gag, shuffle over to the chair and climb back up.

After the show, I hear myself telling the others "Well that actually wasn't that bad". But as I'm hearing it, I'm thinking "Are you insane?! It was bloody awful!" Thankfully, that's where it all ends. Or perhaps it became so excrutiatingly embarrassing, I've had to blot it out. Either way, it begs the question: Why did I bleach my hair? And why the crazy dreams? I suppose stress that you're not channeling will manifest in one way or another. Some people break things. I have dreams about being broken. Curious that they were both acting dreams, but after a quiet spell, I think that's just me, keen to return to work.

Tonight I hope to dream of a sandy beach, with the gentle sounds of lapping waves. Mmmm....a beautiful beach. A few gulls chatter overhead. It's warm, but the cool breeze makes it perfect. There's a scent of seaweed mixed with coconut. I'm drifting off to sleep within sleep.

And then I hear the wolves...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If I Should Die...

"...think only this of me; that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England." So opens the classic poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke. Such is how I felt when I lived in South Africa. But returning there for a few weeks over the holidays, I realised that no matter where I am, dead or alive, there will be a part of me that is forever Africa.

I have missed South Africa dearly and really only appreciated how much during my recent trip. She raised me during a politically cruel time, which afforded me great opportunities thanks merely to the colour of my skin. Messed up, absurd and beyond forgiveness, I fortunately managed to grasp some of the complexities of the society in which I was raised as a child. She was beautiful even then and is even more so now, after a decade and a half of democracy.

There are many improvements and the country has grown and flourished. But despite the remarkable transition engineered by an extraordinary man from a prison cell, plans set out and put to test by Nelson Mandela, sadly not all of her people have felt the good fortune that a comparative few have enjoyed in large amounts. It's not a perfect science and while she has been a beacon of hope for the rest of Africa and indeed the world, especially insofar as peaceful transition is concerned, her challenges remain vast and at times, insurmountable. Nevertheless, I believe the vast majority of her people want peace and prosperity for all. With the FIFA World Cup mere months away, she is spotlit once again, as she was during the '95 Rugby World Cup, to show the unifying power of sport.

I miss Africa: the warmth of her people, the big skies, the thunderstorms, the smell of rain on parched earth. When Mandela was elected, there was an incredible anticipation and joy that crossed colour and economic lines. With thousands of people working hard to ensure the 2010 Soccer World Cup goes off without a hitch, I felt that same excitement once more. From corporate SA to the humblest street vendor, there seems a thrill, a spark in the eyes, a new hope for the future.

I wish you well, my friend, my beautiful South Africa. You will always be with me.

Be bold. Be beautiful. Be glorious.