‘Do you have anything lined up after this run is over?’ I ask one of the actors in Chekhov in Hell.
‘Well, I’ve got a couple of weeks off, then I start rehearsals for a show at Hampstead,’ she replies.
I’m amazed to feel a stab of outrage and jealousy. Another
show? How is that possible? You’re MY actor. Does this mean so little
to you? What, you just toss this aside like an old tissue?
It’s the weirdest feeling and completely
unreasonable, obviously. Of course, it’s all about the intense
promiscuity of theatre. We work together for short periods, shutting
everything else out, it’s emotional, physical, sensual, we promise the
world to each other, we meet in the evenings, we go to unusual places,
confidences are exchanges over drinks, and then we move on. It’s like an
affair. But actors are used to it. I don’t imagine they all feel the
deep bluesy heaviness I feel the day after a show closes. It’s one of
the uncanny things about actors. Their ability to access that well of
feeling with sincerity and accuracy and then to leave it behind. I’m
sure writers have an equivalent but damned if I can think what it is
I think the problem is seeing making theatre is falling in love. I need to think of it as just sex.