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Six Degrees of Desperation

Back from our hols and still drunk from the intoxicating effects of actual hot, shining, carcinogenic, wonderful sunshine, NOT BAd is reluctant to loosen our grip on the silly season and leave off reading back-to-back issues of Heat magazine. 

Later this month we have lots to attend to – the newfound dynamism of the Duns Players, for instance, or Alnwick Theatre Club’s production of Roald Dahl’s ‘Danny the Champion of the World’, or how about Christopher Brookmyre’s Comedy Showcase?  So, we thought, why not kick back and make the most of the summer lull by doing something frivolous and unspectacular and instantly forgettable?

To this end we referred back to our beloved Heat.  What would Heat magazine do in our position?  What pointless space-filler would Heat masterfully elevate to the status of indispensable life guide, up there with ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’?

We toyed with giving you ‘Inadvisable Sex Position of the Week’, but discounted it on the basis that none of us can draw. 

Instead, however, we’ve devised a test devoid of research or grip on reality.  A completely unscientific piece of holiday fluff to distract all you am-drammers out there from the fact that it’s pishing stair rods in August. 

Are you ready?  Then we’ll begin.  In just six questions *drum roll* find out your am-drammer style!

Finished?  And now, the science bit …


Mostly a’s — The Only Child (aka The Am-Brat)

Young and fresh from failing to get acting work after completing uni, you find yourself a reluctant migrant to the am-dram scene.  Rude, impatient, and completely lacking in self-awareness, you see no point in beating around the bush – you are bloody marvellous and you have a third in Theatre Studies that tells you so.  Your motivation is anger, and you’re bloody furious.  All the time.  Like a wasp trapped in a jar with no jam.   You view the concept of auditioning as another example of political correctness gone mad, believing the role of leading lady/man should be a position granted for life, where life ends at thirty in a blaze of  Logan’s Run euthanasia.   Older and less able cast members are treated with the condescension of a minor royalty visiting a hospital for sick kids, and you tend to engage folk in monologue rather than conversation.  You have to be the centre of attention at all times otherwise you scream until you vomit or dial Childline to report abuse.  You are a complete madzer.

Good points:  On-stage, you can actually act.  Your youth, drive and ambition often comes up with innovative ways of doing things.  Off-stage, your take-no-prisoners attitude makes being a victim of street crime unlikely.    Bad points:  Screeching “I can’t work in these conditions!” whenever a lightbulb blows.  Being a complete madzer.

Mostly b’s — The Dark Assassin

Difficult to spot due to camouflage, you strike dread into the heart of any performer with whom you share a stage.  As a more passive-aggressive relative of the The Only Child, you are usually charming and personable off-stage, yet on-stage these qualities desert you to reveal a craven scene-stealer. During rehearsals you demonstrate a latent ability to act.  Sadly this disappears in the face of a live audience, especially if you only have a minor role.  Under these conditions you succumb to the lure of the Ministry of Funny Walks or to making bunny ears behind the heads of the lead players.  You do anything to get a laugh, often at the expense of your fellow actors, sometimes at the expense of the show.  Wounded if you feel that you haven’t received the lion’s share of applause, you can spiral down into self-destructive behaviour such as watching ‘The Only Way is Essex’ and reading The Daily Mail.  As a child your mother told you off for being a disgusting show-off.

Good points:  On-stage, you can usually restart the heart of a dead audience.  Off-stage you are warm, funny, and the first to get the drinks in.  Bad points:  On-stage, you can reduce a cast of thousands into a one-man Marx Brothers tribute act.  Your mother was right.

Mostly c’s —  The Methodone Actor

Often found shaking and sweating in the wings, the stage is not your natural habitat, but you’ve developed an acting habit that you just can’t kick.  Quiet and intense, you prefer a small role that you can discreetly perfect unnoticed in rehearsals before delivering it equally unnoticed on performance night.  You always slip under the radar.  But then unlike the The Only Child and Dark Assassin being noticed isn’t where it’s at for you.  Your only motivation is to inhabit a role as thoroughly as possible.  The idea of being someone else for a night appeals, if only because it gives you a night off from being you; it’s exhausting holding a sphincter that tight, every day.  Socialising is something that doesn’t come naturally to you on account of your life-force scaring people.

Good points:  On-stage, you are a solid supporting actor.  Your eye for detail would prove invaluable to the Crimewatch reconstruction team.  Off-stage, you’re good at working out everybody’s share of the bar tab and out-staring cats.  Bad points:  On-stage, fear-vomiting in the wings.  Off-stage, you’re somebody about whom a neighbour might say with stunned hindsight, “They kept themselves to themselves, really.”

Mostly d’s — The Grizabella

Easy to spot, you’re an all-year-round inhabitant of the amateur stage, but formerly from the world of professional end-of-the-pier acting.  In your long career you’ve done everything, working your way through the arse-end of a panto cow to Bernie Clifton’s understudy.  You’re old-school and like nothing better than a proscenium arch and a benign name drop.  Warm-hearted and happy to let the main roles go to younger cast members, occasionally you feel the need to reassert your authority and remind people that you’re still a force to be reckoned with.  This manifests by loudly singing over the lead from your place in the wings and delivering the dagger soliloquy at high speed while drinking from the wrong side of a glass of water.  You once sat three seats down from Sir Ian McKellan on Platform 2 at Berwick-Upon-Tweed station, and although you never made eye contact you definitely shared a connection.

Good points:  A consummate professional, on-stage your solid presence boosts the confidence of the less-experienced.  You are only too happy to share tips of the trade.   Bad points:  You can get on people’s tits by knowing all the words to every song from The Sound of Music.

Mostly e’s — The Wysiwyg

Rarer than one might think owing to your supreme self-awareness, a genuine sighting of a What You See Is What You Get is a joy to behold.  People feel comfortable around you; you’re about as threatening as a labrador puppy on a peace march.  Part of this is due to you being crap.  Really.  You couldn’t act your way out of a football foul.  You’re less wood more medium density fibreboard, a poor wood substitute.  While you always try hard, you know you can never aspire to more than a pity clap.  But your USP is that you know this!  In am-dram circles this sort of self-knowledge is as improbable as the Queen celebrating her diamond jubilee with a vajazzle.  Essentially your motivation is the after-show party.  A fun-loving hedonist, you enjoy the social buzz of rehearsals but see performance night as something to be endured before the serious matter of the main event, ie, the open bar tab and all the egg and cress sandwiches you can eat.  Your idea of a successful after-show party is having Hula Hoops surgically cut from you fingers following an Amaretto-soaked rendition of ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyoncé.  

Good points:  On-stage, you can make child actors look good.  Off-stage, your lack of ego makes the world a better place, a bit like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ before Mary went blind.  Bad points:  You can make child actors look good.

Next week’s test:  Do You Have a Power Ballad Problem?  How to spot the signs.


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