There is something so contagious about the stage – it has so many possibilities, so many avenues, that I defy anybody to tell me that they haven’t at some point in their lives been captivated by its magic. In this postmodern society, where pretty much anything goes, this is especially true. If you’ve been to a football match and enjoyed it, well, you’ve enjoyed a performance. Theorists like Rebecca Solnit have even contemplated the notions of walking as being an act (OK, so even I feel that this might be taking it a little too far, but you get the point...). The theatre is a huge and influential part of our society – but what is it that continually makes people come back for more?
For me, there isn’t one answer. At 21, I have now experienced the vast world of performance from a variety of different angles – each of which have given me equal pleasure and excitement over the years. It all started with a bug for performing itself. As an only child, my mum did the typical thing of sending me off to every activity imaginable to mankind. Now, fair enough, swimming really wasn’t my forte – I had much more fun chatting to the kids in the shallow end than I did actually practising my breaststroke – and let’s face it, although I enjoyed the game, I was never going to be a Wimbledon tennis player. But anything remotely theatre related – tap, ballet, modern, theatre-craft, acting, singing, and so forth – I was well and truly hooked. A day just wasn’t a day unless I was practising my jazz hands or singing a musical theatre number in one of my many rehearsals.
But then that dreaded moment came. I had to make a decision – education or the world of performance. I knew exactly what my heart wanted, but I went with my head and was soon waving goodbye to my dance school and giving three years to an English and Drama course at The University of Manchester.
Don’t get me wrong, I was more than excited about the prospect of communal living, of the student life, of the academia. I got myself a job at the Lowry in Salford and I involved myself in University shows – so my love for theatre wasn’t entirely stripped from me. It was hardly a Romeo and Juliet, Cathy and Heathcliff kind of separation, but it was a painful move nonetheless.
As I was coming to the end of my first year, I was casually looking through theatre reviews, finding inspiration for which show to treat myself too next, when I stumbled across the opportunity to write for whatsonstage.com. Having been doing something similar for the student paper, I thought I would give it a go, and within a couple of weeks I was thrilled to become a regional contributor and interviewer for the site. I have never looked back...
The journalistic bug has hit me in full force, and since writing for this website I have been graced with so many wonderful opportunities. Not only has it led me to experiences on daily newspapers and national magazines, but as a true theatre geek, it has meant I have been able to see things and talk to people that as a performer, I could only ever dream of. Since my college days where we had to study theatre practitioners, Matthew Bourne has been my idol in choreography – so when I was offered the chance to interview him, I found myself feeling star-struck and hit with those pre-show butterflies that I used to feel before stepping foot on a stage.
As I come to the end of my degree, I am still hit with the urge to get up and perform to a full auditorium under the spotlights, but more than anything else I now want to share my passions through writing.
Good old Willy really did know what he was talking about. The world is a stage, full of diversity and opportunities, where once you have found the right path, you are guaranteed a life of entertainment.
- Rebecca Cohen