Saddleworth Players

Feeling terror at your entrance

Hello, I'm James. I could start this by telling you a bit about me and how I got involved in the theatre, but instead I thought I'd start by explaining a word which hasn't really been used for about 200 years or so. Bear with me.

Feague is a term from around the 18th century that means to put a live eel up a horse's bottom. Apparently, this was a horse dealer's trick to make an old horse seem more lively, which I suppose it would. But it does imply that you should never trust an 18th century horse dealer – especially if you're a horse, or an eel. I hope you find no use for this word.

Whilst I can safely say I’ve never experienced this, I imagine the fear and panic of both animals would mirror the way I felt before going on stage in my very first play. It was a university production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and as I waited in the wings to make my entrance, there was at least a 50% chance of me bolting from the theatre because of fear that I wouldn’t remember my lines, that I wouldn’t be any good, or worst of all, that I would let people down. Thankfully I did make it to the stage, and from the moment I spoke, that terror went away. That was eleven years and many plays ago now, but I still have those same worries before I go on stage. What helps me deal with them now isn’t only the joy I get from performing, but from the knowledge that everyone involved, from other actors to prompts, the director, the backstage and costume teams, are all supporting each other.

To me, the best thing about being involved in a production is the sense of pulling together towards a common goal, in this case to make a great show. The theatre is more than a hobby, it’s a community where I meet some fantastic people and have lots of fun. It's become a truly massive part of my life, and one I wouldn't swap for anything. This play has been a great example of that, and I’ve probably laughed more in rehearsals than I have in the last three months. I guess you could say I’ve been “de-feagued.”

If a chap who walked into a hospital in New Zealand in 2012 had been involved in amateur theatre, he could have saved himself a lot of embarrassment. He probably took the idea of "feaguing" a bit too literally though.

If my rambling hasn't put you off, I hope you come to see Spring & Port Wine. It's worth it.

Spring & Port Wine is on at Millgate Arts Centre 1st-8th October. Book now.

James McKean, Sep 27, 2016