Correspondence to The Breakfast Club

Dear Breakfast Club,

I have an admission to make – I don’t like the word “goodbye”. It has a sense of finality to it that irritates me. I also have a habit of my mind and mouth dueling when it comes to expression of anything personal. Usually, the mouth wins – it blockades the stream, and sends the emotive language back to where it came from, resulting in me pretty much staying silent on matters of emotion. This is where the hands, as a diplomatic service, offer to transcribe the unspoken. This letter was started due to a sense of emptiness, and unresolved…something. I cannot really pinpoint what that is, but it was a gnawing vacancy that demanded resolution. Curiosity is now trumping emotive neutrality.

During our break on saturday, I slept, and found myself thinking to the near future. A future that held regular trips on trains, listlessly staring into the distance as I thought of meetings, agendas, planning workshops. A future involving working with a group under bright lights, with some of the best people I’ve had the fortune to work alongside, together creating the best experience we can for our audience. Sadly, this is a slower process in my day job – a single change will take two months to realise, but on stage, the same scenario held true yet fast: under bright light, in the space of a few hours, we moved people, we enriched their lives, if only for an evening. And yet, the resolution for that vacancy remains.

This kind of vagary doesn’t make for an easy resolve – a puzzle lacking detail is not just a puzzle, but a puzzle without it’s very defining feature – a viable solution. I figured it was show-related. Every closing of a theatre production brings with it the melancholy of parting, and the disbanding of what has been.

So I tried to watch the film, and found I couldn’t. Key lines would resonate, and conjure the visual memory of seeing you all bring the Club to life, resulting in a head of one image, and an accompanying audio track courtesy of my TV which, whilst synching expertly, was a very odd sensation. So I stopped that, and turned to my favourite TV show, “Psych”, picking a disc and season at (almost) random. The episode I ended up with? “Murder? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?” Set in a high school reunion, the episode is typical Psych: a mystery solved by a (fake) psychic detective, through a script laden with 80’s references. In this manner, it was Breakfast Club heavy, but in terms of closeness to our show, it was Breakfast Club Lite. It was what I needed.

The references worked as a form of nostalgia, riffs allowing me to think back in what we’d just created ourselves.

Billal, your never-ending thirst for theatre knowledge and technique was refreshing. So many people are content to rest on their (often-well-developed) laurels, but you showed me that there’s always more I could learn, and your vigor in doing so was commendable. Inspiring.

Luise, you had such control over everything you did on stage, Claire became a facade with a facade – so much, so that when you provoked the straining in your character’s voice, the emotional responses you conjured in me were surprising in their realism. Astounding.

Spencer, your comic timing had me enthralled. Whether it was the languid announcement about women and smoke, or the nervous interruption during times of tension, you were perfectly in synch with the proceedings, every time. Envious.

Jess, I have to admit that I found many an occasion where I was referring to you, both out loud and mentally, as Allison. I firmly believe that the best actors epitomize the equation of 1 picture = 1000 words, only the picture is the movement, expression, stance of the performer. You and your portrayal of Allison gave me a lot of evidence to support that. Awestruck.

Jules, for someone I’ve known so long, it surprised me just how much I learnt about you as a performer in this show alone. The Johnny Cash revelation clicked so perfectly, that to watch you tap into that reservoir of frustrated rage that drives Bender, was quite the exeperience.

Felix, for a guy lumbered with a character who cannot think for himself, your ability to leap from idea to idea, voice and character and back to the page-long monologue, was impressive. It’s a juxtaposition, in that you are nothing like Andrew, and yet, like all the others above, you managed to tap that all-important defining vein, and become this disparate individual. Occasionally with a very foreign accent.

Anthony and Dom, we did this show not only with you, but I’m pretty sure for you. The passion and understanding of the story and it’s characters really showed in everything you did, and the fastidious level of detail and insight that you had into the piece is something I can only hope we conveyed, night after night. It was a pleasure to see your beaming faces after each performance, knowing we’d done good by you.

It’s a rare show that I’ve been able to say was put on by a cast of such solid actors. Not just performers, but actors. Many musicals I’ve done have had wonderful people involved, all very good at what they do, but I don’t think I’ve seen a cast comprised of such consummate experts. I’m not blowing smoke, you were all superlative in your craft, molding these very much aspect-based stereotypes into living, breathing humans. Of course they had resemblances in common with the movie versions, but they were also their own, stand-alone people.

I am humbled. To be able to get up there on that stage and do that show with you all, that’s a very special feeling. I know that sounds generic, but i’m struggling for a better word. I want “special” to convey that it was a feeling unique of it’s own, a distilled mixture of pride, confidence, joy, and comradeship. To read through the essay on the final night, I felt like closure was being forced on us, and only being held at bay by the bright lights. I was hoping there was a second page to keep reading from. And then another.

I’m not going to be able to tell any of you this to your faces, but given my personal reservations about my acting, and the particular things I’ve worked through this last six months, I’m quite happy to say I’ve accomplished something new, and it was only by being able to collaborate with you all, that this happened. Thank you all, and I’m going to keep a close eye on your ever-so-bright futures that are only just unfolding.



~ by nick on February 12, 2012.

2 Responses to “Correspondence to The Breakfast Club”

  1. Ah, Nick. I’m glad I share with you the same need to express through writing. I cannot say that I felt the ‘post-show-blues’ so much as you and Luisa have described. On the one hand a blessing, since it’s much easier to move on for me, but on the other hand it also means you were much closer to the others and that you care for them very much. It’s funny, that group dynamic or relationship that a cast forms, and you’re right to call it special.
    That ‘special’ blend beneath the signature lights of a stage and a dressing room. A backstage door. A moth in a web. A screen on a shelf. A cross on a curtain, or a Russian accent.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve found that, once in awhile, making the occasional concession to express in person an emotional word or gesture helps loosen the valve on the emotional pressure pushing within, and the more it relieves the more likely you are to keep rotating that valve inch by inch in the right direction with greater comfort.

    Thank you for your compliments, I’m glad I have singled myself out some way in your eyes, and it is a commendation I couldn’t be more satisfied with at my current state

    • Post show blues are an interesting phenomena. It’s kind of like having to let go after having invested so much time, effort and energy into something. You’re not letting it go for a bad reason, you’re simply bringing it to a conclusive end. And then…you feel like there’s a little gap in your life. You get up Sunday, and you don’t have a rehearsal. You don’t have lines to revise, or people you want to run things by.

      They can bring you down, but they can also be something treasured – in that last respect, I certainly hope you get them some time 😉

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