Last night I went to the captioned performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chickenshed. I’ve seen it twice before as they’ve done it a few times. This one was brilliant – beautiful costumes, very dreamlike and also hilarious – particularly Bottom and his company! The audience last night was a bit odd because I was trying very hard not to laugh too loudly because I was very aware that other people were not laughing and I thought that perhaps I was a madwoman, gasping away and giggling! 😀
What I feel when I walk into Chickenshed is kind of confusing. I was a performing member there when I was younger – from 7 years old to 18 years old. So it was a long time and I have some wonderful memories. What feels strange to me is that the past collides with the present and future when I walk into Chickenshed and say hi to all these people that I used to know, but don’t know very well anymore. They are all wonderful and very talented people.
Maybe this is why it’s hard to define what I personally feel when I’m there – it’s a kind of longing to be involved but at the same time a reluctance because I haven’t performed for a long time and in some ways would rather remember the past without there being a present. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t feel like I’m a performer and would rather be involved with writing or sign language, something like that. When I try to explain myself to other people, it just makes it even more confusing.
So many of the people I grew up with are gone – my friends have moved on to other things. I met some of my best friends there, but some of them are not in my life any longer. Perhaps the problem is one of regret – that I have lost touch with a lot of people and that I feel guilty about it. In fact, this is the case with a lot of people I was once close to – it’s not that I don’t have some lovely friends but the pace of modern life means that you just lose touch, and can’t seem to find the time to connect.
It can be applied to lots of things – I like community atmospheres but at the same time have been part of some which just sort of implode or drift away into the ether. I used to think that friends would continue to make the effort to keep in touch when really so many of them are increasingly busy and when you do catch up, it feels a bit awkward, like you haven’t seen each other for years. I might be very shy, at least to start with and it takes me a while to get to know people, both because of my deafness and because it depends on how open the other person is. But I still find it really important to communicate and connect with different people. I often worry (irrationally) that I come across as cold or prickly with people on first meeting, or a bit stilted.
What got me thinking about this, partially, is that someone I used to be very good friends with at the Shed when I was a kid, at least, has been blanking me a bit even though I’ve been trying to be friendly. At the same time, I feel like I’m reading too much into it, that maybe I’m imagining it or something. Then I think, why does it matter so much to me? It’s unlikely that we will meet very often and we’re both very different people anyway. It just makes me think that time changes a lot and it sort of changes your perspective.
At the moment, I’m reading Selected Diaries by Virginia Woolf. She has a brilliant way of making little character portraits and commenting on the most mundane of details. It makes you look at the world slightly differently. She also has some rather uppity views about various things which seem a bit stuffy now, yet there is something very modern about her attitude towards things. She has a no nonsense approach and a keen eye for detail – she reads people, the surface and depth of them. Sometimes I wonder if I dare to record what I see when I look at different people, even when I like them, or care very much about them. I think knowing about character and human nature is very important when you’re a writer.
Like I say, I’m too much of a hippy and strive to see the best in everyone, even people I dislike. Maybe one day love and peace can heal the world?