September at Chapter in Cardiff is full of treasures, pleasures and Well Thumbed wonderments.
- This is not my first one man show so I kind of know what I am letting myself in for. But the last solo outing was a long time ago. (Sorry, I am writing this in the first person, so if you have just arrived I am Terry Victor.) Last time out it was a UK national tour of Memoirs of a Lunatic – a particularly dark and angsty bit of Tolstoy. Very heavy. In particular, I remember playing the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, and the King’s Head in Islington among loads of other venues. I was touring in The Sound of Music at the time – yes, playing the Nazi. It was a very long run in Rogers and Hammerstein-land and doing a dramatic (not to say arty) bit of lunchtime theatre, which actually included nutting the stage at one point, kept me kinda sane. It was at the King’s Head where one audience member, putting two and two together, explained to his companion, “Notional [which he pronounced ‘nosh n all’]. That’s how yer Welsh say National”. Memoirs of a Lunatic was the play around which Notional Theatre was first formed.
- Anyhow, Well Thumbed is an altogether more cheerful and mischievous piece of work – even though Tolstoy does succeed in getting a few words in there.
So, here I am. (No, that’s not me in the picture although I can see the confusion. That’s Leo Tolstoy, the Well Thumbed Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy himself. The genius author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina.) I’m the one in the book at the top of this blog. The one with a solo show to do. Basically, I do all the reading and rehearsing so you don’t have to. Tolstoy just wrote a little Well Thumbed bit of it.
- In Well Thumbed, for the first time on a stage, I get to play a tuned musical instrument. Honestly, as a failed ukulele player that is truly, truly challenging. Scary if I think about it and I may never recover but, so long as I don’t play with my fingers crossed, I think it might just be OK. Other than that, basically, I do all the reading and rehearsing so you don’t have to.
Q: Why do this?
A: Good question. As the first performances get closer I ask this of myself, a lot…
… Well, it will have been a long and sometimes thrilling journey from the original notion to get-ins and get-outs, yet the inexorable advance of time has felt somehow threatening. Honestly, what started out as an optimistic project is now a quietly terrifying prospect (and, I hope, an irresistible piece of theatre).
The first publicly staged appearance of Well Thumbed will be at Chapter on the 28th of September. http://www.chapter.org/well-thumbed