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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dinosaurs Cured my Performance Angst – it’s true!

Inconsequentiality can be strangely uplifting. I put it to you with the greatest respect that a grasp of personal insignificance may be liberating. More than that, it could be the answer to those whose ludicrous self confidence went down the pan with their random youth. Are you someone who finds yourself gripped by the urge to express yourself creatively but discovers you are not fortified with an ego that would make Attila the Hun seem shy?  Appreciating the utter unimportance of your existence, the sheer nothingness of yourself, the absolute no-point-to-you essence of who/what you are may be the answer. No really - hear me out.

I have form when it comes to cringe-worthy scenarios. I am no stranger to please-let-the-ground-swallow-me-up situations. Having made a total arse of myself on more occasions than I care to mention (and I won’t catalogue them all as this is a blog not a thesis) I feel that my theorem deserves a hearing. For the sake of intellectual rigor – and not just to make you smirk – here are a few examples.

Earlier this year I fell on my face at Northern Stage in Newcastle at a high profile event called ‘Meet the Promoters’. Desperate-for-a-gig critters like me were given 3 minutes to impress a setting full of the key holders to most of the decent venues in the N.E. Mounting the stage from the front meant that as I tumbled forwards – not only did I suffer the ignominy of making it clear I couldn’t get on a stage gracefully – I had my rear end to the audience at quite close quarters. I gave national literary treasure, Harold Pinter, a new first name at The Lamplight Arts Centre in front of people who would notice his first name isn’t Allan. I’ve had to excuse myself mid performance when a programme was running late as I was about to miss the last bus home and I didn’t have taxi fare. In 2010 on the Saturday before the elections, I was walking through Alnwick prior to performing on the experimental People’s Plinth. At a BNP stall were three individuals dressed to resemble humans so obviously I said a few words to them as I passed. Standing on the plinth in the cold, wet, almost empty market place I realised that they were in my line of vision – they were in effect – my audience! In a hotel in Morpeth I once took part in a surreal performance in the round with some Folk types (and they are weirder than poets) while small muscle-bound men in tiny lycra knickers and makeup wandered through the performance area. There was a wrestling match taking place in the adjacent room to raucous applause. I’ve fumbled lines, forgotten lines, muddled characters, realised after leaving the stage that something about my person wasn’t where it should have been. It’s really quite an extensive list but I’ll stop there. The thing is IT DOESN’T MATTER and I learnt this from dinosaurs.

The first dinosaurs were around during the Triassic period when the earth was a single land mass, Pangaea – 220 million years ago. Coelophysis was one of those early ones. So let’s just say that there was a coelophysis who got the urge to scamper about in a meaningful way for her own creative elevation and to entertain other Triassic weirdies. We wont call it dancing because this is an analogy not sentimental anthropomorphism… so anyway – the coelophysis – lets call her Annie – is put off her prancing because she worries she’ll fall or make a Triassic twit of herself by drooling at the wrong moment or rushing off suddenly, mid prance, to claim her share of some nearby carrion or she gets cross with some dung beetles then finds out they are her audience. So she decides it’s all too much and doesn’t do her thing any more. But what is the worst that can happen? And if it does happen – so what? Annie is not only dead she is extinct. The dinosaurs who knew her are dead and extinct as are the dinosaurs who knew them. She doesn’t even exist as a genetic memory. Her lot were succeeded by the dinosaurs of the Jurassic and they were replaced by the leathery bods of the Cretaceous. And you know what – they are all dead and extinct and have been for the past 65 million years. So ok – if you want to hijack my analogy you may conclude, what is the point of anything. But you are just being silly and Nihilistic. Dinosaurs were around for unimaginable lengths of time and even they weren’t the first creatures on our planet. They are not around now because a bit of rock bumped into the earth - apparently. We’ve been around for a measly few thousand years and – let’s face it – we are actively and effectively working towards our own destruction. As a species we are unlikely to enjoy dino-longevity. So – I suppose what I am saying is – if you want to do it get on with it and don’t be held back by any sense that it matters.

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