Inner Worlds

Inner Worlds

“Ten years ago I started to build a theater in my head….”

 That is such a beautiful sentence. It was written by Hilary Mantel the brilliant author of Wolf Hall that is now onstage in New York and also on Masterpiece Theater in a six part television series. I think it’s the best description I have ever read about what it is to be a novelist. One builds theaters in their heads. As Ms. Mantel points out the author does the costuming, the lighting, the whole works and of course the characters. Then she went on to say in regard to the play of her novel, “We don’t need stars[for actors]. Just a company of self- effacing shape-shifters…” This led me to reflect on the difference between being an actor and a writer. In my own head when I am writing I hear every voice clearly, the nuances, the varying intonations, the gestures and the subtle facial expressions. I capture them and put them on paper. But I could not any more act than fly. I hated being in plays at school when I was young. I had terminal stage fright. I was once in a sixth grade play –a greatly reduced version of Les Miserables, long before the musical. I had one line. I had to come on stage and deliver four words. “Jean Valjean is dead.” I froze. I could not remember my line. When I finally did remember it after an agonizing pause I blurted out. “Oh Jeez Jean Valjean is dead.”

 

So when I write I do believe I am a shape-shifter. But the shapes can only step out onto the paper and never the stage.

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