Monday, March 23, 2009

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing."

I'm sure you knew that the words above are taken from Macbeth... Act V Scene 5 to be precise. It's my favourite speech from my favourite play. I mean... seriously... can you believe that someone was able to write words of such depth and clarity over four hundred years ago. Genius doesn't begin to describe the talent.

But why am I rabbiting on about Billy Shakes and 'The Scottish Play'? Well, I'll come to that in a roundabout way.

I've had a wonderful week. Not as much training as I'd like but I've needed a quiet week and, as I've been mainly away on business, this has been it. Tuesday evening saw Erin and I go to The Milton Keynes Theatre to see a production of Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Simon Callow.

Okay... I'm going to go off on one a bit here. But bear with me.

I studied for my degree at the esteemed Victoria University of Manchester where I took and emerged with an honours degree in Drama. All my school life prior to this I'd acted. I loved the immediacy of the theatre, the challenge of pitting your nerves against a live audience, the skill of performing under pressure and the art of forming different characters beneath your own skin. I continued to 'hone my craft' through the university years (amongst other things, of course) but somewhere between leaving Manchester and the beginning of the nineties my love of theatre waned and remained at the back of my consciousness on a kind of artistic life-support machine.

Why? Well, I think I obviously became more involved in film with my career. I also moved to London where I began to see vasty overpriced, pompous productions that played out to an audience somehow removed from the action. (I admit here that this was by my choice - there were and are plenty of more intimate productions for consumption in the capital). But I think this was part of the shaping of my experiences. For, until this week, I never really realised what it was in theatre that I loved so much.

So, back to this week. 'Godot' was perfectly fine. Standard theatrical fayre. Famous play, movie star thesps. Tickets £ 38 each. And it was... okay. Not great, not poor. Just okay. But 'Godot' shouldn't be just okay... it's a ground breaking piece that can startle and storm an audience's barricades, even at fifty years old it should still have the power to do this. But it didn't.

So I drove up to Manchester the next day for a few days work and checked into my city centre hotel (linked here as a recommendation). Wednesday afternoon after my meetings I wrote until about nine o'clock and then took in a movie at The Printworks... Bronson. It was decent enough.

Thursday I worked on my commercials and, during a nip out at lunch time to buy some Mother's Day presents, I passed The Royal Exchange Theatre. For those of you who don't know it, it's a fantastic space... ultra modern, designed like a giant space ship that simply sits inside an elderly, almost gothic, building. Inside the theatre is in the round... no stage, just a small circle in which the actors work.

And guess what was playing.


So I figured I'd risk £ 8.50 on one of the banquette seats at the front, within touching distance of the actors. And it was... I think... the best £ 8.50 I've ever spent. What a performance. Everything I loved about the theatre was brought back to me. The energy, the rawness, the power of an amazing work rendered modern and relevant by intelligent direction, a sparsity of propping and design, ingenious sound and lighting. It was as if a long lost love had returned to me and, single handedly, it has re-kindled my passion for the theatre. I will now seek out more and more work like this and, you will be pleased to know, will almost certainly never be moved to write so much about a single theatrical experience again.

Macbeth plays at The Royal Exchange in Manchester until April 11th. I'm taking Erin on a four hundred mile round trip to see it in a couple of weeks. See it if you can but know that it's bloody, dark and disturbing (as today's pic from the production demonstrates). Not for the faint of heart.

Billy Shakes would have approved.

So, it seems strange to move on to matters of training but move on I must. I was feeling tired at the beginning of the week so Coach K. and I agreed on a quiet recovery week. Hence:

Monday 30 miles recovery bike, spinning in the little ring. 18.3 mph average and 70% HR. 10 minute run off the bike
Tuesday 25 mile bike (5 mile warm up, 15 miles at above 85% HR, 5 miles warm down). Short run off the bike
Wednesday 75 mins 3km swim set
Thursday 50 minutes run, 6.5 miles, 30 minutes swimming
Friday 55 minutes run 7.5 miles
Saturday 25 mile bike ride then off to Twickenham for England vs Scotland and too many ales
Sunday Rest day

Total training this week 9 hours.

Swim 4km
Bike 80 miles
Run 17 miles

I was amazed nobody got last week's film quote. It was spoken by GENE HACKMAN as LEX LUTHOR in SUPERMAN. The link with DELIVERANCE was that Ned Beatty appeared in both movies.

Here's this week's:

"Hey Ray, wouldn't it be funny if I went to Harvard, you went to Jail and we both ended up surrounded by crooks. "

Who needs congratulating this week?

Well, The Mighty Reds, for sure... for keeping their winning streak going and heaping more pressure on Manchester United. I still think United are in the box seat but at least we're fighting for it.

Tom and Helen, for two great performances at The Ballbuster Duathlon. Well done guys.

Oh yes and to me again. For not being an idiot and taking my first day off training this year. Frankly it was becoming silly!

And, of course, you, fair reader, for once again sitting through a blog that is increasingly becoming less about triathlon and more about life. Still, that can change, eh...

But it's getting late and...

"I must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain."



H said...

Great blog Jevonelly. And as I've discovered through my many blog spewings, training is ALL about life because it's so much more than physical exertion, it's your attitude to life, it's your mental health, it's your happiness, it's your escape, it just is life :) and what a great one. Keep them coming and happy training, hope your recovery week has refreshed you. x

Anonymous said...

Hi Jevon,

Karen went to see waiting for Godot at MK as well. She loved it. If you want to get back on the boards Karen's G&S society is always looking for men! How's your singing :-)


Andy (what's that leaking sound) J.

Jevon said...

I have many weaknesses in life. Singing is but one. Operetta is, I'm afraid, not for me.