HOME /// 400 Day LETS Odyssey - CONTENTS

400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

At last ... performing my play on stage in London.

ENGLAND - London (Wk.1 of 2 weeks)
Week 26 of World Tour

1. The Glory Of Athens - London Premier

Four months after giving my first reading of The Glory Of Athens, in Athens, I gave my London Premier performance in a little theatre underneath the arches of Waterloo Station.

I’d got a few encouraging emails from family and friends wishing me luck, although whenever they wrote ‘break a leg’ I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I guess I haven’t been in the trade long enough (at 48, I was a late starter!)

My (almost) daily rehearsals were necessary so I wouldn’t forget my lines (nearly 10,000 words!) And every reading and performance over the last few months was an effort to improve my delivery and make amendments to my script where necessary. And even though I’d already given my World Premier performance in a theatre in Amsterdam, the highlight of my short career as an actor/playwright was always going to be in London.

In the theatre foyer with my director, Nigel (right) and David, the lighting and sound technician, just before giving my UK premier performance of The Glory of Athens.

The Network Theater Company is an amateur theatre group with a small theatre venue seating up to 80 people. Not exactly Her Majesty’s Theatre, but heck, this was London! Nigel Williams directed the play and David attended to the lighting and sound effects. And that’s all the help I needed. This was definitely a low budget production!

The play had been promoted through the theatre group’s monthly newsletter and they’d also printed colour posters as well (one of which I managed to grab as a memento of the occasion).

Then at 7.45pm, on Monday, November 24, 2003, I walked out onto a brightly lit stage in front of a curious London audience and fulfilled my dream of performing my play in a London theatre.

I performed The Glory Of Athens over 2 nights (Mon-Tue, Nov 24-25) to a couple of very different audiences.

Opening night was the smaller audience, but I had more attention on Monday than the following night because I was being photographed throughout the entire play. There were lots of photos taken, so I definitely won’t be short of photos!

But Tuesday night’s audience was larger, about the same size I had in Amsterdam. They were a very responsive audience too, laughing at all the right places. I also felt my performance was much better on that night, probably due to the combination of a larger audience and the absence of photographers.

When I wrote my play, I didn’t realize how time consuming it would be. It took me 4 weeks to write my play, but my commitment to perform it has kept me rehearsing and performing ever since! So yesterday I rewrote The Glory Of Athens to suit a cast of 7 actors, and that’s how I’d like to see it performed in the future. I’ve had my moment of glory, so I’m happy for others to keep my play alive through their performances. And I’m flattered to see an ongoing interest in my play in France and Holland, so it will soon be translated into both their languages.

So will I ever act again? Even though I’m no Tom Cruise, I’m sure I could be tempted to get under the spotlight again. But it’ll always be just for fun.

And considering the first time I’d performed my play without a script was only 3 months ago, whenever I think back to my London Premier performance, I’ll always think, “Gee, I was bloody good!”

An essential stop for any serious Beatles fan.

2. Walking In The Beatles’ Footsteps

In the early 60’s my sister, Sonia, was a huge Beatles fan. At 16, she was so keen on them that she put together a couple of magnificent Beatles scrap books (which unfortunately don’t exist any more). I was only 8 when she bought their first 2 albums and I guess my sister had given me a pretty good sales pitch, because I remember playing those records repeatedly and writing down the lyrics to all of their songs. I was fascinated by their music and fantasized at how wonderful it would be to write and perform songs like they did.

So when I found myself in London recently, much earlier than I’d expected, I thought I’d see if I could find the pedestrian crossing that The Beatles made famous by walking across it and using the photo on their Abbey Road album.

Earlier that day I’d met up with my Aussie mate, Kevin Kuek (we’d also got together in Paris last year) and after a short chat over a cuppa coffee, we began our search for Abbey Road. The search didn’t look too promising until we finally walked into a music store and the shopkeeper, an older guy, was able to give us the directions we needed.

“Take the underground and get off at St. Johns Wood Station,” he said. “The pedestrian crossing is just outside the Abbey Road Studios which is only about a 4 to 5 minute walk from the station.”

Well, as soon as we got off at the station, Kev noticed a Beatles Memorabilia café in the station. We were definitely in Beatles territory now, and a quick look at the locality map on the wall showed us where Abbey Road was and highlighted the Studio location as well.

Soon we were outside the Abbey Road Studios. The white concrete fence had been freshly painted, yet it was still covered in graffiti written by Beatles fans. Lots of ‘Beatles Forever’ and ‘I love John’ messages, along with people trying to immortalize themselves by writing their own names and the date of their visit. These graffiti scribbles were all less than 2 weeks old, because every month the painters come in and give the fence a fresh coat of paint.

I was only one of many fans who continuously stopped traffic in order to re-enact the Beatles' famous Abbey Road photo.

“Take my photo walking across the crossing,” I said to Kev.

Five minutes later we’d taken 3 shots of me crossing ‘like a Beatle’. I’d even managed to persuade Kev to make a crossing as well. Funnily enough, two other couples were also going through the same exercise. So in the space of about 10 minutes, and with each crossing, we’d managed stop the traffic at least a dozen times!

But I guess the motorists are used to stopping at the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing. And seeing that their historic photo was taken 23 years ago, I guess they’ll keep stopping every minute or so for another 23 years ahead.

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

About the book

James Taris web sites