A short monologue written for Huddersfield’s ‘WRITE NOW’ festival and performed on stage at the Lawrence Batley theatre in 2010.
I think this was the first time I saw my words coming out of someone else’s mouth. The actor did a far better job of it than I ever have when I’ve had to do public readings.
A MAN IN HIS MID-TWENTIES STANDS CENTRE STAGE. HE’S WEARING A GLITTERY JACKET AND LOOKS SLIGHTLY NERVOUS.
OFF STAGE: Next!
A GIRL STRUTS ACROSS THE STAGE VERY CONFIDENTLY FROM RIGHT TO LEFT IN FRONT OF THE MAN. WHEN SHE’S GONE, HE NODS IN HER DIRECTION.
It’s me after her.
HE LOOKS AFTER HER THOUGHTFULLY.
I wonder how she’ll do. They don’t let you audition in front of the cameras unless you’re either very good or very bad. I think she’ll probably be bad – she’s too full of herself. Mind you, her gran’s at death’s door so she stands a decent chance.
HE STARTS PACING UP AND DOWN.
I haven’t got a gran at death’s door. Nor am I from a broken home. Both my parent’s are alive and well, my brother isn’t in a war, my dog hasn’t been run over and nobody I know has any sort of terminal illness. They won’t be able to dub Coldplay over my back-story.
I can’t help feeling slightly cheated. I’ve never had any trauma or character building ordeal to go through. I’m completely normal in every conceivable way. Average looking, average intelligence, average qualifications, average job…
I’ve always had this terrible fear of failure, you see. I’ve always done what was expected of me, never taken any risks. The trouble is, without any risks – without the possibility of failure – there’s no chance for salvation, no chance for real joy or passion or excitement. By shielding myself from the worst of life, I’ve denied myself the best of it as well. I end up in the middle ground – a safe, ordered, consistent and very mediocre existence. Before I know it, I’ll be piddling away my time worrying about things like guttering and wind farms and bin collections before fading away and being instantly forgotten.
HE STOPS CENTRE STAGE.
That’s why I’m here, to stop that happening.
I suppose everyone else is too. Nobody wants to be a nobody. I don’t want to win though, my singing is… well, it’s average, and I think we’ve established that I haven’t got the X Factor. No, I’m going to do my best to be awful, the worst they’ve ever seen, hopefully.
This morning I spent an hour screaming into a pillow to damage my voice. The water I gargled with in the toilets earlier had a teaspoon of sand in it. When I go in there I’ll be singing a song I barely know and dancing a routine that’s far beyond my physical capability. Just in case that isn’t enough, I’m going to strip as well – all the way, if I’m allowed. I’ve written ‘SAY YES SIMON’ on my chest with a blue marker pen. They’ll have to show it on the telly then.
BECOMING MORE AGITATED.
I want to completely shred my old life; humiliate myself so badly that there’s no hope of salvaging anything. I need to fail and fail BIG because then, after I’ve endured that, I’ll never have to worry about failing again. I’ll be free. Free to be dynamic, spontaneous, happy. I’ll be able to take all the risks I want because nothing else I do will ever compare with the horror that’s going to unfold in that room and be televised to the nation.
VOICE DROPS AGAIN TO NORMAL TONE.
Now, you try explaining that to Ant and Dec in a handy 10 second soundbite.
THE GIRL FROM BEFORE RUNS ACROSS IN FRONT OF THE MAN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. SHE’S CRYING.
OFF STAGE: Next!
THE MAN STRAIGHTENS THE LAPELS OF HIS JACKET, LOOKS DOWN AND TAKES A DEEP, SLOW BREATH. THEN HE LOOKS UP TO FACE THE AUDIENCE.
Wish me luck.
NO LONGER NERVOUS, THE MAN WALKS OFF TO THE LEFT.