Drawing the line

I have to say, it’s a very strange thing going to drama school in the fashion capital of the world.

Kate Walder
Kate Walder

We all know the kind of dress sense that the studying of theatre induces, and it seems to be some sort of cruel joke or absurd parody that I have to walk around from Monday to Friday in trackies and a singlet top. It becomes so ingrained in you to wear “comfortable loose clothing” that it’s taken me five years to stop wearing yoga pants to opening nights. And I only really broke the habit because Queenie van de Zant specifically said to me at Twisted Broadway last year, “Kate Walder, you have to stop wearing yoga pants to opening nights.” So then I made a conscious effort to re-enter the adult world and purchased some “I’m a responsible grown-up woman and also feminine and demure and oh look at me flounce about in a skirt ” attire and I have to say I did feel better. But now I’m in Paris and it’s all gone to hell and even Philippe calls me Madame Pyjamas. I think I’m cursed to look like I’m on my way to Pilates forever. I really hope the man I end up with likes Lorna Jane.

Since we’re on the subject of my assimilation into Parisian society, you may also be wondering how my French is coming along. The answer: slowly, with a few steps backwards after two weeks in London, followed by a rude awakening which instigated a renewed effort to learn the language of love.

[pull_left] I think I’m cursed to look like I’m on my way to Pilates forever. I really hope the man I end up with likes Lorna Jane[/pull_left]

Basically there were a series of events which made me realise I needed to take my linguistic education way more seriously. The first was when I narrowly avoided getting a blonde mullet at the hairdresser because I couldn’t sufficiently explain myself. The second was when I decided I was deficient in vitamin D. I had heard you could buy tablets over the counter, so I went into a pharmacy and asked the woman in my very best Franglish. She looked at me like I was retarded so I went to another one down the road, again to no avail. By the time I found the third chemist I was frantic. “Parlez vous Anglais?!” I shouted. “Un petit peu”, the man replied. “Vitamin D”, I said, my voice quivering. He shook his head. “Look!” I screamed and dramatically rolled up my sleeve, pointing to my arm like a junkie. “Je suis Australian! Le soleil!! OU EST LE SOLEIL?!!!” He backed away, I think genuinely concerned for his life and came back with a small vile of liquid. He said usually people needed a prescription but he could see I was desperate. I took it home and had the whole thing and proceeded to stare at the ceiling for an hour, certain these were my final hours. I even called out to my housemate to facebook my Mum and tell her I loved her, except she’s French and didn’t understand what I was saying. Thankfully the vitamin acid trip passed and now I feel like a new woman. So the moral is, when self-medicating in a foreign country always know how to ask for your drug of choice.

That’s the cultural update, now for the theatre report.

We finished Shakespeare and Chekov a couple of weeks ago and have just started Characters, although I’ve stopped calling the workshops by their actual names and now refer to them as whatever emotional response they elicit in me.

For example, Shakespeare and Chekov was The Pain Spiral workshop where Philippe broke me and I cried for ten days. Characters has very quickly become the Find Your Fun workshop because last week Philippe told me he didn’t see my joy. I felt like saying that’s because I’d been in a cave of emotion for a fortnight and had not only lost my fun but also my personality and will to live, but I thought it was best to take the note and sleep on it.

And that’s what this last week has been about, although I’m not sure how successful I’ve been so far. I decided to start with something practical to rectify my inherent lack of joy so I watched Dylan Moran’s stand-up show on youtube one night and ate a tub of Nutella. In a way it had the opposite effect because the next day was less than fun when I slept in for three hours and missed my train, probably due to a hazelnut coma. And when I finally got to the station I realised it was a public holiday and everything was different. I had to take fourteen buses to get to a station in the opposite direction and sail past Sicily to arrive in Etampes before sundown. But it took me ages to figure out because whenever an announcement came over the speakers, I could only understand it as “blah blah blah I’m inconvenient.” When I eventually arrived I had missed school completely, so I went over to my friend’s house and sat in her backyard with a Russian ushanka hat on, speaking to her in a Lancashire accent while she made tea. I was trying it out for performance class the following day but I couldn’t decide whether to be a Lithuanian peasant or a fisherman from the English Midlands, so I dropped it and went with Sheryl the mountaineer from Penrith.

Needless to say I am completely losing my mind. Last night I went out in continued search of my fun and returned home at 7.30 this morning with a singed eyebrow and a flute. This isn’t normal. I know I’m at clown school but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

I guess it’s kind of OK because everyone else is off their heads too and busy discovering their inner child. But what’s going to happen when I come home? I can’t do a show as Sheryl the mountaineer from Penrith with a singed eyebrow and a Russian ushanka hat. It’s not right. I have dignity. I have class! I have a mature and ordered and sensible approach to everything AND IT’S ALL FALLING APART!

Yes, this place is undoing me. But actually, I think it’s exactly what I need.

Kate Walder

Kate is a 2008 graduate of the BA Music Theatre course from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). During her time at the academy she played the role of Linda in Blood Brothers, The Young Wife in Hello Again, Marguerita in West Side Story and featured in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd and Oklahoma!, for which she was Dance Captain. After moving to London in 2009 Kate played the role of Clio in La Dispute at the Soho Theatre and subsequently at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Since returning to Sydney, Kate has written and performed her one-woman show Coffee with Kate: the Cabaret at the 2010 inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival, a show based on a series of weekly columns she wrote for Aussietheatre.com. She is currently co-writing a new show with a fellow WAAPA graduate which will premiere later in the year.

Kate Walder

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *