With a school age child and an Assistant Headteacher wife I have found myself at school shows with increasing regularity and find that mostly I love them.
Tonight was a Primary School rendition of Return of the Golden Slipper. Apart from the wonderful collective human endeavor, enthusiasm and energy, what makes the show fascinating is watching the acting. With the oldest performers just 11, with very few of them having been trained and all of them just there because they happen to go to that school not because they passed an audition, you see a great range of performers.
There are the kids who are just great and confident with it, which is heartwarming; those that would be great if they were just more confident, which is heartrending; those who are technically efficient but not great; those who aren’t very good but are very charismatic and know that a bit; those who are compelling but don’t know it; those that are at sea in their own bodies; those who are concentrating so hard you think they will burst; those who aren’t really there at all; those who are so acutely aware they are there that you feel guilty for looking at them and avert your gaze; those who are lost until the bit they know, then they’re great and then they are lost again; those who are as concerned with each others performance as their own; those mouthing the other lines as they wait for theirs and those that have one line they know is great, they nail it, we laugh and you know they want to punch the air.
I love these kind of school plays. Not only are they great fun, they provoke me to think afresh about acting and performance and why it’s so brilliant to be there on either side of the footlights.