Imagine it's the mid 1970s. Glam rock is making way for Two Tone and Punk, platform shoes and Oxford Bags are still in and I'm still rocking leg warmers and clogs. College life is good and we're coming to the end of a drama module on European theatre.
One group has studied Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco, a wonderful romp through the Theatre of the Absurd which involved them pretending to be rhinoceros' and knocking scenery over (that was unplanned to be honest but worked in the context of the play). Another group took on Six Characters in Search of an Author by Pirandello, a play which looked at the reality of characters created by writers (spooky given I'm about to start creating some). My group studied The Insect Play by the Capek brothers which looked at life in Czechoslovakia between the wars. A cheery play as you can imagine!
Everyone was given a part and I rather fancied being the butterfly, a vain and flighty character with, in my mind, some great opportunities to dress up flamboyantly. But the drama gods were no kind and I was cast as the chrysalis.
Now things didn't work out quite how I'd imagined. For a costume I was given a green sleeping bag with brown blotched painted on it, this was my 'shell'. I had to lie on the stage, fully zipped until only my face was on show. I had some lovely green face paint on which added to the attractive effect. I can't say I felt glamorous as I sweated in a sleeping bag on the stage as my green face slowly drizzled down onto the edge of the nylon, quilted sleeping bag.
My lines were all about the momentous thing that was about to happen to me - I was to turn into a moth - and what a glorious new day was about to dawn - see where I'm going with this? I didn't feel particularly glorious and any sense of renewal was lost on me at that moment as I melted under the stage lights. I looked on with envy at my fellow students as they enjoyed being beetles and butterflies, stomping or flitting across the stage as I lolled on the floor being the best darn chrysalis the college had ever seen.
Eventually of course I was reborn (unzipped) and I struggled out of my sweaty cocoon to emerge as a moth, the process of renewal complete. I'm no expert but I doubt the first words out of a moth's mouth (do they have mouths?) when they are reborn are 'Bloody hell that was hot!' but it was the only laugh the whole play raised! I forget what we were all supposed to learn from the play, something about the march of the mechanised society I think but I certainly learned a few things.
I learned that it's tough being a chrysalis.
I learned that I'm a rubbish actor and my ad libs are the best part of my performance - ask me about my Oedipus Rex!
And I learned that it's hard work renewing yourself, even if only for one night.
I know that compared to the lovely inspiring things I'll read through this link my post is a bit trivial. However as April begins and I start to write my first full length, properly planned book I feel that I am undergoing a personal renewal as a writer, something I've long wanted to be/do. It's not as sweaty as being a chrysalis but I hope it turns out to be as transformative as the change from chrysalis to moth.