Acting as if Everything is Normal – Marie Cooper

Acting as if Everything is Normal

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The last couple of weeks have felt a bit closer to normal. Well, not 100%, but closer. I had a new script emailed over at the start of the week.

The Maddermarket Theatre are running play readings and are reading Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard this Friday evening. I am looking forward to it. I have been feeling bereft and been pining since the production of Wesker’s ‘Chips with Everything’ I was due to perform in was cancelled

Play Readings

I didn’t want to be involved with play readings initially. I have been missing the theatre. I wanted so much to be back on stage. I felt that it was just going to be a painful reminder that I will be unable to stand safely on a stage any time soon.

I am really happy that my friend Diane managed to gently persuade me to sign up to take part. We read ‘Man of Mode’ by George Etheridge last week. A restoration comedy. Not my cup of tea, to be honest, but it felt so good, just sitting and reading a script again, albeit over Zoom, that I wished that I had done it sooner. It is such a brilliant opportunity to read plays that I have not read before too.


But if I had been immersed in theatre still, I probably would not have invested as much time as I have done, into writing during the lockdown. Thanks to discovering London Writer’s Salon and turning up most mornings for their writing hour sessions each morning, I have almost finished my stage play. Well, I have ‘sort of’ finished. I have finally completed the first draft and am taking a break from it before I proceed on to the next stage, with fresh eyes. Then I will be able to spot all the edits I need to make and fill all of the plot holes.

I also signed up to a local creative writing course, run by Margaret Johnson at Norfolk Adult Education, which was very good. I signed up to, to keep myself out of mischief and keep writing. To be honest, mostly because it was free and all my other ‘free’, in person, classes could no longer go ahead because of Covid-19.

Part of the course involved writing a 10-minute play for either stage or radio. A pleasant surprise was that, at the end of the course, the tutor arranged for a play reading for us and we got to hear our work read by other actors. It felt very much like flying by the seat of my pants to get a 10-minute play done in time, but it’s amazing what an imminent deadline can make you do.

It was so much fun hearing our work read and brought to life. Very strange to be on the writing side of the fence for a change rather than the acting one. The actors did a fantastic job. I wrote that the characters were local to here (Norwich) and they even read in a Norfolk accent. I wouldn’t have been able to do that and I am Norfolk born and bred.

Writer’s Hour

I have been writing consistently over lockdown. I get up every morning at 7am to write. I can not believe I just wrote that sentence. If I travelled back in time and said that to the March version of me, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that she would have laughed in my face. I am most definitely not a morning person.

I would not be doing it if it weren’t for Writer’s Hour, for sure. I guess it is the accountability of having lots of other Writers there too, watching you. And if I don’t turn up, I feel I have missed out. I don’t always write anything awesome. I mostly don’t. but I show up all the same.

If I don’t feel inspired, I write Morning Pages. Or just knock about ideas and plan what I might write/do next. Or do some exercises. At the end of each month now, I feel myself getting a little panic on. thinking what if this is the month that Writer’s Hour stops happening? It would be interesting though, to see if I can keep it up, now that it has become a habit or whether I would revert to my natural sleep-loving self.


Earlier this week, during Writers Hour, I was trying to think of an idea for a monologue. I want to record a couple for my acting portfolio. I have recently written a dramatic one, but I wanted to generate ideas for a comedy one. I could not think of anything at all.

I think I am blocked because I am convinced that I can not write anything funny. So instead I resorted to the good old ‘List Writing Prompt’,

I wrote a list of ‘Places where a person might sit’ and a list of ‘Situations they might find themselves in’. I am going to use these as prompts to just write, with no pressure to be funny. I will just randomly pick a place and situation and see what emerges.

I could have just picked an existing monologue I guess, but I wasted a lot of time searching online, trying to find one I liked. There is also the added concern of getting permission to use someone else’s written work to perform because of copyright.

I thought it would be easier if I just wrote my own. The dramatic monologue I ended up writing started as a writing exercise. It began as dialogue between two characters I created in an online Playwriting for Zoom Workshop by Rosa Torr. But when I was re-reading the dialogue back, I realised that I could easily change it into a monologue.

I have created more written work in the last couple of months than I have done in the preceding two years. I do not want to return to the old normal. I like my new writing habit and I intend on ensuring that it remains of primary importance in my new normal.

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