A flash fiction story by Brian Robinson.
I had been worried about my husband for ages. There were times when it felt like I was living with a stranger. All I wanted was to be close again to the man I married. Sooner or later, I knew I would have to have it out with him.
“Jeff, I don’t know who you are anymore. I mean, I understand what Method Acting is. I really do get it. To play the part well, you have to become the person, right? But you take it to extremes. What you do goes way beyond the pale.”
“Look, I’m never out of work honey. Not many actors can say that. You may think I have a strange way of doing things, but I can tell you now it goes down extremely well with the studio.”
“I’m not sure if what you do even counts as Method Acting. If you’re playing a career criminal, does that mean you have to go out and rob a bank?”
“What are you trying to say: that I’ve robbed a bank?”
“Six months ago, you came home in the middle of the night with a bag full of silverware, watches and jewellery. You told me it was props for the part you were playing. Can you tell me why you had to hide those props in our roof space?”
“Look, when I take on a role, I have to walk in their shoes. I have to follow in their footsteps. I need to know what it feels like to be in someone else’s house, going through their stuff. I have to feel the excitement; the danger; you have to take the risks in order to understand the risks. Now I know that’s difficult for you to understand. But I’m an actor. First and foremost, I’m an actor.”
“Two years ago, we found you holed up in a crack den. You were injecting yourself with heroin. You had abandoned your family. All in the name of pursuing your craft as you put it. We had to rescue you. You didn’t want to be rescued. It was a total nightmare.”
“Please don’t cry dear. I hate it when you’re like this. I don’t do this to hurt you. And I’m sorry for that episode. I truly am. But with each role I play, I become a different person. I feed from these various experiences. They become my life’s blood. Listen, I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest if you bailed out. But I can’t give up being an actor.”
Jeff is the one and only love of my life. There will never be another. I know that. But I wasn’t going to let him go that easily. And I certainly wasn’t going to push him away. Over the next six months things got calmer. I got calmer.
I had gone to bed early one evening. I left Jeff engrossed in a new script. Some time later, I woke up with a terrible start. Jeff was standing over me. He had a huge kitchen knife in his hand. I could see in his eyes that he was fixed in the moment. I tried to bring him back down to earth. “Is everything all right, with the new script I mean?” I was shaking uncontrollably by that time, and I really don’t know how I managed to get the words out.
“Guess what? I’m playing a celebrity TV chef. How do you fancy a midnight feast?”
We must all do theatre, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.Agusto Boal