Pedestrian is that latest show from Tom Wainwright, the Bristol based actor, writer and theatre maker responsible for previous Bristol Old Vic hits Muscle and Jesus Christ Its Christmas. Made in collaboration with Simon Wainwright (imitating the dog), Pedestrian combines Simon’s animation, film and projection work with Tom’s verbal deluge to create an epic story about everything and nothing. It runs from 24 – 27 February and is a Theatre Bristol / Bristol Old Vic co-commission. We thought you’d like to know how he was getting on…
Today I decided to go to for a run. It has occurred to me in rehearsals that I’m going to need to build up stamina. It’s looking like 80 minutes straight though with very few pauses. I’m talking the entire time – in fact maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this is: it’s the sort of information people will cite when deciding not to go and see a show. Anyhow, now that I’m running it top to tail in rehearsal I’m discovering that about 50 minutes in – somewhere up in space – my concentration goes. I start thinking. “I need a piss” or “a sandwich would be nice” or “there’s bloody ages left to go.” At least in a couple of weeks time, that come the fifty minute bum shuffle, I’ll know what my audience is thinking. On the other hand, no great solace in that actually.
Stamina. Yes. I’m going to need it. Admittedly, it’s not the front line or going 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao, rather it is, as an actor friend of mine describes it, “shouting and showing off.” While I shouldn’t sell myself short – I do hope there’s slightly more to it than that – these are two integral elements to the work. Warming to my tangent, I’ve stumbled across that age old tension between taking your work seriously, and being a nob. When a plumber comes round to fix your boiler, he doesn’t tend to make quips like, “well, it’s just a bit of gas and copper piping isn’t? Put the kettle on.” To the same extent, said plumber, when attending some form of social engagement and is asked what his occupation is and in answering, is unlikely receive the reply, “Oh you’re a plum-ber. Sandra, over here, Jeff’s a plum-ber. What sort of plumbing do you prefer, Jeff? Gas or water?” Doesn’t happen.
And we wonder why people in theatre get a reputation for being whingeing self-regarding…nobs. Inevitably with a collective insult thrown around the neck of an entire occupation like that, resistance is futile. “I’m not a whinger. I’m not self-regarding. I’m charming and funny” Doesn’t work, see? However, a director friend is fighting the good fight. He bounded into rehearsals one day saying, “at a party last night I told this guy I was a theatre director and he said, ‘well, that’s just mucking around isn’t it?’ and I said “Yeah. And I get paid for it!” The victory seemed a little… I don’t know…hollow. Citing professional self-respect on being able to get away with being a dick hardly seems the most definitive of arguments. And as for boasting about the money…
And you’re off the tangent. Like it or not, I need to build up some stamina. Now I used to run. But then I didn’t. I did drinking and smoking instead. I thought “I can run – I used to run a lot.” And then I did. I was neck and neck with students walking across the downs. I was in pain. And when I was at exactly the farthest most point from my front door…I got a stitch. It was then that I suffered the most ignominious defeat of all. I got overtaken – quickly – by two girls. Can you imagine?
And so as I see the first night date approaching much faster than I can run up a hill, wondering if it’s too little too late, a dive for the shot you know before you’ve taken off has already beaten you, I’m noticing something on the horizon, that age-old friend, that bastard I can’t shake off. The fear.
Pedestrian runs from 24 – 27 February at Bristol Old Vic Studio