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  • We were doing monologues that day, and Colin was reciting Edmund from King Lear.

    “Thou, Nature, art my goddess..”

    He was having considerable trouble getting past this opening line as Jenny kept interrupting him, disgruntled at the delivery.

    Colin was her favourite for getting disgruntled with. A formidable teacher, who we loved and feared with equal passion, she ruthlessly broke Uta Hagen’s teachings into us, determined we should know our craft even if she must torture us in the process. And she was ruthless in that pursuit. Our classmate was no better or worse than the rest of us, but handsome looks and a rather cheeky Welsh disposition had, somehow made him riper for her squeezing.

    “No, no, no, no, no, no, no!” Jenny exclaimed for the umpteenth time, “I still don’t believe you!”

    Then would come instruction, and poor Colin would excruciatingly attempt to follow as he began again:

    “Thou, Nature, art my goddess..”

    “Oh for heaven’s sake! Will you please, Colin, listen to the words you are saying. He’s invoking the power of Nature. Imagine her as a beautiful woman, she is your goddess, you worship her.”

    “Thou, Nature, art my goddess..”

    “Goddess, Colin, goddess! Sprawled in front of you. You want to kiss her pussy!”

    As one we leaned back in our chairs to make eye contact. The impact was delicious. Except to Colin who was now beet red and had lost his tongue to apoplexy.

    That was the most powerful delivery of words I ever witnessed. In those seconds I understood that all words were just tools of my craft, to be wielded or heard without fear or restraint. I was from that moment unflinching and liberal in my use of them. Swears and vulgarities were mine to command without shame, brandished Jenny-like in my best RP accent. There could be no awkwardness about language if I was to go to the difficult places of human nature that actors regularly inhabit.

    Colin too, by now had gotten it. He took a shaky breath, and nailed his speech.
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