I should have been excited to meet everyone properly, but I had taken on too many articles and writing projects that week. Until the actual day of the rehearsal (today!)… I’d just being trying to empty my itinerary, like Mary Poppins’ itinerary bag. (She has a bag that can fit everything in… it’s quite magical… my experience was not magical)
I speed walked to the Artista Café, on Waterloo Street, in Hove. My material still warm from the printer!!! – I was going to read it through on the way – And it wasn’t until I was walking there that I became acutely aware it would soon be judged. I had only met the Stealth Apsie’s once in passing. After hearing my stuff they might think it was a mistake to let me join?… maybe I’d just have to sit on the side-lines.
My legs battled forwards, sweat pouring from my forehead (not because I was nervous, but because Brighton was in the middle of a heatwave!) I arrived… I’d only been able to read through half a page of my wad of script.
Alan English, a dark haired Scottish man, sat on a leather sofa. Behind it the window brimmed with bric-a-brac: a map of Antarctica, a metallic whale with a sapphire eye, and a gold-framed song. Looking at my ‘Wad’, Alan asked whether I’d brought some of my own material. I replied that I had, nervously leaning on the side of the sofa like a short yet gangly orange flamingo. (Utterly out of sorts and out of place!)
Sarah arrived!!! We’d met up the previous week for coffee at my favourite pub (The Yellow Book Café, because of its steam punk décor, choice of mead… and lack of customers – peaceful!) I felt slightly more secure now. She apologised for being late… though it was only by around three minutes. Soon after the last of the Stealth Aspies arrived, Paul Wady walked through the door, full of bluster to begin. He handed everyone ‘Stealth Aspie’ badges.
They all knew each other… and they all knew the show. Light chatter zapped around me… I’d stayed up until 2.00 am the previous night finishing an article. I felt like I was listening to the news when there is a log on speech on live recordings.
“What do you think?…Would you like to perform here?”
I said ‘yes’ to most suggestions; partly… because I’ve never really minded where I go in shows, but also.. because I wasn’t quite sure what was being said! I needed to acclimatise. They asked me which monologues I’d chosen to perform. It was then that Alan piped…
“She’s brought some of her own stuff!!!”
They all seemed lovely. They all seemed pleasant. We were all in this together… But I still worried they were going to rip me apart.
“Urm… Yer…” I sunk further into the sofa I had eventually sat on, caressing my script with my large club thumb.
“Why don’t you run it past us?”
I knew this was coming… actually, I’d thought that maybe I might just sneak away and not mention my stuff…. I chose the short piece first. At least they might be unimpressed… but not bored?
They all laughed…. They all laughed because it was a comedy piece on ‘neurotypical’ people’s views towards medical diagnoses, and though I stumbled over my words I began to feel less self-conscious as they emerged out my mouth.
“You’ve got some good stuff!” Alan reclined further into his chair. “We can definitely work that in.” (Everything sounds more reassuring in a Scottish accent… unless it’s shouted.)
They asked me about my work and somehow it lead on to a discussion about how most of my BFs had been dyslexic, and how It was hard for them to read through my work… and then I dated one with ADHD… who was great with punctuation and grammar… but never managed to make it through a whole paper! – Sarah suggested I work on a one woman show on ‘Dating with Neurodivergence’. (I now am!)
They didn’t just like me… they liked my material!!! – They even asked to keep one of my pieces for their show personally! – I put my phone in my bag and lessened my clutch on my script. We all
headed downstairs (as the Artista Café has a small stage area), to give the performance a run through. Each piece timed meticulously by Paul.