Friday 22 March 2013

The show must go on: taking Lashings offstage

kaberettPosted by kaberett

Here's a secret, that probably isn't very: when I get up on stage, I don't know what I'm going to say.

Oh, I know what I'm going to sing, and I know that the introduction is going to be something a little like ladies, gentleman - and everybody else! ... Ancient Greeks... Oscar Wilde... it's time for a history lesson!

And off I (gaily) launch into our Brief And Eurocentric History of Western Queerdom.

But it's not like Shakespeare, and it's definitely not like my Year 9 production of Bugsy Malone: when I roll up in front of you, my words are always all still in potentia.

It wasn't always like this, for me. I used to freeze before going on stage; I used to babble once I was there, stalling abruptly every time I let my mouth run ahead of my brain. I used to come off shaking and nauseous and convinced I'd done everything so wrong that I should never be allowed to perform again.

I'm always astonished by the lengths my brain will go to to convince me I'm not worth taking up people's time.

My orchestra started the job of curing me of this, but it's Lashings that's pushed me the rest of the way: that's helped me internalise the lesson from counselling that well enough is, well, enough.

It's Lashings that's confirmed for me that I can wheel out in front of people and open my mouth and get laughs. It's Lashings that's shown me that a certain amount of arrogance self-confidence can get you an awfully long way.

When I talk about taking Lashings offstage - taking Lashings home with me - I don't mean the work of blogging, and I don't mean the work of learning or writing acts, and I don't mean the work of rehearsing: though, of course, there is always that too.

I mean...

I mean several things, all at once: I mean the obvious hands-on behind-the-scenes work. I mean the introspection that makes me easier to live with. I mean the sense of community and of fairytales and of good magic, of being only a whisper (or a tap of my heels) away from People Like Me. I mean the knowledge that I can educate: that I can make the world a little better by being me, by sharing what I've learned, by saying: I am trans* and queer and mentally ill and disabled, and if there is anything at all I can do to help you with what I have won and saved from my daily trials by fire, please say.

And what I mean is this: that I can arrive at an interview with my chin up, and I can talk about things I love with joy in my voice and a smile on my face. I don't need to know what I'm going to say in advance, any more: I don't need to plot every spinwise step of the dance, lest I stumble and fall.

Thank you: this is because of you, and as such it is for you. I don't think I can pay you back for the gift you have given me.

I only hope that I can pay it forward.

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