So I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned my crippling stage fright/nerves/anxiousness….. but yes i do suffer from a nervous disposition. I get stomach cramps watching somebody i know perform in front of people. I worry for them and all the things that could go wrong.
During the summer Darren was involved in an amazing play called The Devil’s Ceili- written by Philip Doherty and Kevin McGahern. In true Phil Doherty style it’s hilarious, strange and highly entertaining.
The play is set in a Ceili House in Ireland in the 1960s, it centers around three characters, a cocky arrogant footballer( Darren), a womanizer and a power mad priest who are central respectable figures in the local community until a stranger (American hippie ) turns up, spikes their drinks with LSD and we see the characters true nature. The Devil himself also makes an appearance. The addition of a live band, multimedia projections and clever lighting made this play a talking point of the summer. It ran during the Fleadh and was a huge success- sold out every night!
Here is a link to the original promo video….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQvNnAYGgBc
Yes it turned out almost as crazy.
I was helping out during the Fleadh, doing tickets, cleaning, general bits and bobs….meaning that I was there every night. I watched all of the rehearsals, saw people struggling and then shining. I knew the play inside out, I could have been a prompter if anyone had forgotten their lines……that thankfully didn’t happen. As I watched nervously from backstage every night, laughed with the audience and paced the floor when i sensed things weren’t going as planned I wished that I could be a part of it. I saw how elated everyone was after each performance, how the audience loved the show and I cursed my nerves and stage fright from holding me back.
Due to it’s success the play was to be held again over the Christmas break……….Eight nights!
And this time I was to be a part of it……reluctantly.
When Phil said he had a small part for me I said…..”Really? Ah cool” no excitement, I didn’t think much of it I thought he’d forget. Then lovely Paula messaged me to see if i’d be at rehearsals….
Rehearsals? Sure that must mean i have an actual part….which i needed to rehearse.
Panic struck….. I immediately leapt to my own defence…
“No, no, I simply cannot do this.
Yes sure you’re in college until the 13th December, you have two presentations to prepare and essays to do… there will be no time to rehearse.
Exactly….if you miss the rehearsals then you won’t feel at ease you won’t be able to do the show without rehearsing.
Great I’ll just explain that I won’t be around and it would be better off to get someone more dependable.”
So i told Phil I couldn’t do it….. but he answered me with
“It’s a small part you already know it and you will be able to make the dress rehearsal and we’ll go through it then. You’ll be brilliant.”
So that’s how I was roped in.
I turned up to rehearsals the day before the dress rehearsal. Here I was told that I would be playing the part of the “sexy nun”.
This involves donning a “sexy outfit” consisting of black shorts, suspender tights, a tight t-shirt, stilettos and of course a nuns habit.
Panic reared it’s ugly head.
I am not sexy….I can’t wear shorts, I can’t walk in high heels never mind stilettos- I don’t wear tight clothes. I actually felt physically sick at the thought of it. Noelle Slacke who is an absolute angel helped me by telling me to wear what I felt comfortable in…..alas boots tights and a dress are not the style of a sexy nun. So we compromised with a black skirt-faux suspender tights , high-ish heels…and a black t shirt.
I knew what I had to do- walk across the stage carrying a sign….help the Virgin Mary castrate someone. Easy peasy compared to what everyone else had to do. I had no lines, why should I be worried?
Well a major, major factor in my worry is that I felt like i looked stupid. I am not sexy, I am overweight and I hated having to act sexy and slinky- i felt as though people were looking at me wondering “why the hell is she playing the sexy nun-surely they could have got someone sexier?”
Another factor was during the castration scene, which involved me bringing several items onstage to aid the Virgin Mary in cutting the womanizers balls off… timing had to be perfect, and I was hyperventilating trying to make sure I came on at the right times. The castration itself involved me slicing into a huge bag of fake blood and bursting it into a bucket.This had to be performed in sync with the Virgin Mary’s moves. Now…. I wasn’t allowed to look at the bucket, I had to stare straight ahead…and let me tell you….it is scary slicing a sharp knife through the air into a bag of blood which bursts EVERYWHERE.
Following the blood bursting everywhere I then had to clean the floor to ensure that the dancers wouldn’t slip and kill themselves…..I had about a minute and a half to clean this blood as best I could….(impossible to dry the lino floor) pick up the bucket, a table, a crucifix, a bottle and Holy Mary’s robes and exit the stage…..in high heels….whilst an audience stared….
So that was pretty stressful.
I always felt bad for worrying about my part…because it’s so small compared to the other cast members. Some nights I didn’t burst the bag right….it didn’t gush properly, or I left the crucifix onstage or the floor was slippery. I felt like I let everyone down. There was one day I left the bottle on stage and it had to be kicked out of the way… that night I went home and bawled my eyes out. I was so annoyed and disgusted with myself. I hated how I looked, I hated that I couldn’t get this simple part right, I hated the fact that people probably thought that I thought I was sexy enough to be the sexy nun. I was convinced people thought I was awful and only got the part because I’m Darren’s girlfriend… It was a bad night…lots of tears, but Darren comforted me and I think it really helped because the show became more enjoyable after that, i suppose i just got over myself…. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t under any illusion that I was a good actress, or sexy or confident… but i suppose i acted as though i was and perhaps that was my best achievement in this play.
For the past three years or so I’ve watched my friends in the Gonzo from the audience and more recently from the sidelines, I’ve watched and wanted to be a part of the community not just a supporter. Being in The Devil’s Ceili allowed me to become an insider, with every day spent in a freezing cold warehouse rehearsing, sipping mulled wine and every night drinking at gigs with the cast and crew you couldn’t help but feel warm and fuzzy.
I had to take two Xanax’s on opening night to stop myself from bolting out the door and by the time the final curtain came down on December 30th I was smiling and clapping with the other cast.
Darren said to me before the play began
“I know you’re nervous now, but you will be so proud of yourself when it’s over. You can do this and we’re going to have great fun.”
He was right. With each reassuring pat on the back from Kevin,a “good job jenny” from Phil and a squeeze from Darren at the end of every show I began to feel like I deserved to be there and that is something that I will treasure and remember every time I start to feel like I’m not able to do something. What a great way to end 2012.