Nervous? Moi?

Well time’s winged chariot draws near, near that is to Bad Language Manchester‘s next open mic night which I will be attending and, depending on circumstances, may even be able to read something at.

It certainly looks to be a fun evening, I am particularly looking forward to this chap coming along and blowing some literary minds (possibly with a chainsaw). But more than that, following last month there’s the distinct possibility of a certain performance element slipping in.

Last month Fat Roland put together an excellent piece whereby the consecutive correspondences he was reading were secreted about his person (in a sometimes painful fashion) so that he scurried through pockets, shoes and vest looking for the next instalment in what at first appeared to be an attack of borderline stage fright. A performance piece which was arguably only upstaged by the joys of Powerpoint and possibly Dave‘s waistcoat.

I should probably stop gushing about last month’s meeting and get to what I really wanted to talk about, to whit putting on a show.

I went along to a rather different open mic night yesterday at illusions magic bar and owing to a combination of hastily translated but un-memorised lyrics, a harmonica in the wrong key, and a microphone which refused to pick-up the guitar, what was supposed to be an Italian version of the Eagles Doolin Dalton became a rather poor version of Only God Knows Why. Still, the fact that I was the only person who remembered to bring a guitar will probably be enough to stop me being barred for making people’s ears bleed.

All of which brought home to me two things:

1) I cannot play the guitar to an acceptable level, even for a simple blues song with nothing but fairly straightforward chords.

2) Nervousness quickly diminishes my ability to perform to that of a seven-year old being asked to take on the role of Hamlet.

How do people do it, go on stage in front of people and behave naturally? More importantly, why?

Surely the purpose of writing is to express things in the purely written format. So are public readings a mere formality, a chore to be begrudgingly done at the whim of peers or the powers that be? Or is it something more?

With public reading comes tha ability to add intonation, timing, voices to characters that would otherwise be absent. But then if a piece is well written then surely it doesn’t need these?

I don’t have any answers, but if you see me with a harmonica on Wednesday night then assume that I didn’t manage to finish the story about the large hadron collider.

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