New creative outlet…

29 May

I suppose I should probably just be honest. For all my issues surrounding my own chronic shyness and insecurity, I get an immense kick out of performance – especially live ones.

For the last few years I’ve been giving lectures and talks, mostly about films, to various groups around the UK and Ireland. Its something I enjoy doing, not least because there’s something rather flattering about being invited to talk on a given subject and have an audience seemingly willing to have you there.

At its heart is me, and some sort of platform or stage, and a live audience. Its a very different feel to those occasions where I’ve given a live broadcast on the radio – where the only audience you can usually see is the presenter and/or the engineer/producer.

When I went off to university it was with the intention of studying drama and becoming an actor. I ended up getting better grades in other subjects and switched subjects – fully expecting to continue performance work. It didn’t work out that way. The desire to perform however has never left me, and alongside a couple of very minor acting roles in short films and a little extra work, until we started putting together short audio pieces this year for my journalism course, I’d not had much of a chance to experiment. I’ve found substitutes were I can – mostly in calling my services in as a film historian/critic.

A few months ago I heard about Tenx9 in Belfast – a monthly gathering of live true-life storytelling. After some hesitation I volunteered for the April night, put together a script for my ten minute monologue, braved the stage and gave my reading. A very personal piece which I may well never repeat. It was a liberating experience, and the warm reception offered by the audience and the comments post-show encouraged me to give it another go.

And so last night, I braved the stage once more. This time telling a lighter narrative about my body-image issues with a healthy dose of penis envy. One of only two men talking last night in the group of nine storytellers. The stories were eclectic, and at times electrifying.

One woman stopped me in the street outside post-show and told me that she couldn’t do what we do – isn’t it nervewracking? Honestly, the worst bit is the pre-performance build. Tweaking the script while you wait in the wings, worried that either your narrative will hit the wrong notes or that you’ll miss something important. Once at the podium the clock starts ticking and there’s only the shadows of the audience in front of you, and the noise they make to guide you.

It is of course what I love about this sort of performance work. With a live audience you can judge the response – adjust your volume, intonations, inflections and tempo. You live off their breathing. You get an immediate feedback which informs your next phrase.

I get a buzz from this I haven’t experienced in years. And there’s the added knowledge of knowing that every word I speak has been chosen by me from my own life. It is terribly fulfilling, and as long as audiences want to hear more and I still have stories to tell, I’ll keep doing these things.

For now, it has offered me a fresh set of challenges, an outlet for some new works, and a very different audience from my usual one. Its just a shame I can’t get the buzz to last longer… I’m already itching to get up and give another performance as soon as possible.

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4 Responses to “New creative outlet…”

  1. tenderlytina May 30, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Wow, and you’re shy? That’s really impressive. If you ever go youtub-ing you should post it here. I don’t have a shy bone in my body but public speeches and acting scare me to death. I have to do a lot of speeches to groups for work and I always get shaky and sick to my stomach even after years of doing it. Good public speakers are very impressive.

    • avalard June 1, 2014 at 12:46 am #

      Shy yet vocal – the eternal paradox of the performer.
      I have a Youtube, Soundcloud and all sorts of other accounts. Slowly adding material to them.
      I suffer stagefright regularly but have learned how to ride the adrenoline and stress mostly successfully.

      • tenderlytina June 1, 2014 at 1:22 am #

        I still think it’s impressive and I’m glad to hear you’re getting out there on you tube. You write well I’d imagine the speaking is even better.

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  1. The Sherlock Holmes English-speaking Vernacular - January 13, 2015

    […] May I found a new outlet for my creativity (and to be fair, a little bit of self-therapising too) via the Tenx9 event run […]

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