I wonder who I will be today? This is the question I ask as I get out of bed every morning. Not as part of some great life affirming exercise, but because I simply do not know.
Since I became, “Mummy”, I lost track of my true self a long time ago. But these days I go by so many names, it’s easy to become discombobulated.
“Hello, I’m Dorothy,” my daughter will declare as I walk into the room. Okay, so I guess we are in Oz today Toto. But does that make me the Scarecrow, a Good Witch or a Wicked Witch? It’s all to play for.
Sometimes I am given an inspirational role that sets me up for the day. Mary Poppins – that’s the sort of part you want to land when you’re performing a day of childcare. But then there can be a lot of effort involved in taking the lead…
A good supporting character part can be comforting. Princess Anna to her Queen Elsa. Cowboy Woody offering a, “Howdy Partner”, to Cowgirl Jessie. The Mad Hatter hosting a tea party for Alice – now that’s a character I can really relate to.
There are few lines or action that come with these bit parts. Nod and smile when appropriate, accept any props on offer and just bask in the shadow of the show’s star.
Of course I know where I stand when I am typecast as The Queen of Hearts or a Wicked Stepmother. I may not be in favour with the principal player, but I am also most likely to banished off stage for much of the production and left to my own devices.
Getting names right can become a challenge. Even soap stars get it wrong now and again. Exchanging heated words with a person they call casually by one name, but who to the rest of the world is known definitely by another – in the height of drama a slip of the tongue is understandable. But my audience fails to see the funny side if I mix up her latest alias.
It can be equally difficult to stay in character in certain situations. Mary Poppins never broke her jolly disposition to insist that all the toys should not be pointlessly thrown across the room, because she knew she could just magic them back into place with a snap of her fingers. It’s alright for these big stars, but us amateurs have to do our own set changes.
But perhaps the most demanding task of all is remembering one’s lines when it comes to the classics. If in the middle of a production of ‘Doctors’ one dares stray from the chosen script when it comes to diagnosis, there can be hell to pay from the tyrannical director, who is a stickler for tradition.
When it comes to role play, my favourite part has to be that of ‘Tiny Baby’.
Tucked up on the sofa under a blanket, one is only required to lie still and let your head be stroked as you pretend to sip milk from a bottle. The stage kisses can sometimes be a little wetter than one would like, but the pinnacle of the performance is to close your eyes and fain sleep.
Improvisation in this role is strictly frowned upon. No misbehaving for Mummy. Her word is final. Children should be seen and not heard.