A High School Comedy of Errors
Most people who end up as actors started acting in school. I was one of those kids. In Year 4 I would write my own plays and during my lunch break would direct my fellow classmates. We would then perform the plays for the class. I remember my first play was called, “The Lost Boy”, and no, it wasn’t about Peter Pan, it was about a kid who was separated from his family. It was my greatest fear as a child, so I was already writing what I knew. My wonderful teacher, Mr Colin Laundry, was very supportive of my endeavours and even gave me an A++ in Drama and called me, “The Cecil B DeMille of Year 4”. He was such a wonderful support, and still is, he and his lovely wife come to all my plays.
Then I hit high school and I desperately wanted to be in the school play. The first year I was only cast in a small role, but still loved every second. While in Year 8 it was announced that the next play was to be William Shakespeare’s, “The Comedy of Errors”. I wanted to be an actor, I HAD to be a lead role in a Shakespeare. My brother and his friends were auditioning, they had all been lead roles the year before. I wanted it bad, I spent ages on my audition piece and my brother was gracious enough to help. One lunch I auditioned and had no idea how I went, our teacher, Mr Dennis Long, was holding his cards close to his chest. My lovely brother, Gary, knew how bad I wanted this. He said if he got a role and I didn’t, he would drop out. A lovely sentiment, but I would never have let him do it.
Then the roles were announced, not only were Gary and I both cast in lead roles, we were playing twins. We were both playing Dromio, he was Dromio of Ephesus, while I was Dromio of Syracuse. We also found out that not only were we doing a season at our school, Doonside High (proud westie born and bred), but we would be touring the show. We were taking the show to High Schools, nursing homes and the season would begin with a show in the amphitheatre at Darling Harbour. Year 8 me was in heaven, hell, 44 year old Wayne would be in heaven with a great season like this.
Rehearsals were tough but exciting. Shakespeare was a completely foreign language to me in Year 8. So I had to learn the language, but Mr Long was a great director and teacher and painstakingly went through and explained every piece of dialogue. We all worked so hard and had an impressive looking show. The tour was amazing, a few low spots, but mostly people really loved the show. I remember being quite the hit in a Nursing Home in Rooty Hill - think I reminded them of their grandsons.
We were still doing school and would then head off on the bus to wherever we were playing. Gary and his friends were all in Year 11 and were starting to get a lot of work. One of the actors, who was playing the Abbess, was doing her homework backstage one day and completely missed her cue. I remember being on stage and knocking on the door she was supposed to come on from, she was not there. i could see her in the corner doing work. She couldn’t hear us calling for her (in character), she must have been right into that homework. Another actor realised she was meant to be on and grabbed her. Panicked, she ran on. It’s so funny, that all these years later (that was in 1988), I remember it as clear as day.
This tour taught me so much about the craft of acting and made me want it badly. I had a great time, with my friends and sharing a stage with my brother. Seeing that photo above reminds me of one the lines Gary would deliver when our characters met, “I see by you I am a sweet faced youth”, and wow, I look very young there.
A lot of people have bagged out Western Sydney schools in my life. Think I missed out because I went to school at Doonside. I missed nothing. I got to tour a theatre show, I got to be editor of a school newspaper that won a major state prize and I get to be nurtured to be the kick arse, take no prisoners, artist I am today.