I was always dreadful at acting. The whole concept of walking out on stage and pretending to be someone else filled me with self-conscious terror.
I think that the reason I ended up playing the drums in various bands (Mary Jane is still going..!) was that I could hide at the back behind a big bass drum and a few toms & octobans.
What I did really enjoy was working backstage. Lights and technical work was fun, but from a creative point of view it was set design and painting that I loved. A school trip to the National Theatre in my youth stayed with me – the mockups of the stage sets (many of which can be seen in the V&A Museum today) were breathtaking in their detail and creativity – but look behind them and you’ll see that often they were no more than chopped up cereal boxes. The illusion was everything.
After many years, I recently got the chance to have another chance. My son’s school production of What a Knight! gave me the opportunity to design and create a new set, complete with castle turrets and giant chess pieces. Andrew Lloyd Webber (and Monty Python) would have been proud.
Using sheets of polystyrene, I marked out the brickwork, ground out the grooves with an electric drill & grinder bit, distressed the stonework with wire wool and finished with a couple of coats of paint. Pretty straightforward and something very different & rewarding to work on. The video and photos below show the progress of the project.