Sunday, October 17, 2004

A funny thing happened to me on my way to the theatre

Hung over one morning of Fresher’s week I diverted myself by stumbling around the audition trail from Cambridge student drama – auditioning for four plays in a little over three hours: the Amateur Dramatic Club Christmas panto of “Great Expectations”; a play about Isaac Newton’s rivalry with Liebniz; “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Macbeth”.

My audition for the panto was monstrous: confessing I couldn’t dance, and proving rather ably that I couldn’t sing (my attempt to lightly warble Cole Porter’s “You’re the top” achieving nothing more than a polite smile from the director and the mutilation of a surprisingly simple and innocent melody) probably limited my usefulness for a singing, dancing, comedy.

However, it does appear I have an affinity for being killed on stage. I’ve been cast as Banquo in the production of Mac … *ahem* … that Scottish play.

Still, it should be a pleasant change from being kicked to death each night (and most rehearsals) in “The Golden Ass”.

The prospect of an Australian reading the part of Cambridge’s most famous academic amuses me no end, but I am indeed reading the parts of Sir Isaac Newton and Vanbrugh (the Restoration playwright) in a one-off staged reading of Carl Djerassi’s play, “Calculus” weekend after next. Djerassi, an emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford, is probably better known as the first person to synthesise the oral contraceptive pill than as a playwright. He might apparently be in the audience.

Oh, and I was cast as Agrippa (a generic noble Roman with some rather nice speeches) in “Antony and Cleopatra” – but closer inspection of the production dates revealed I would be in Australia on Christmas holidays during the performance.

A pity, as it looked a promising production.

Interestingly, “Antony and Cleopatra” will be performed in the great hall at Trinity College, where Newtown was a fellow.

And one of my corridor-neighbours from Stanford has been to Djerassi’s house in San Francisco as she was taught by his wife, the English Literature academic Diane W. Middlebrook.

Is the world quite small enough yet?

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