This one time at St Martins...
I was working as an actor with a troupe of people on a physical theatre show. The company were resident at St Martins – which used to happen back then – rehearsing and performing in the Irene Mitchell. We arrived at rehearsal this one day and were told we would be experimenting with putting Plaster of Paris on our faces and letting it set – we were going for the effect of it cracking off as we progressed through the play.
Never put Plaster of Paris on your face. It was like we’d super-glued stone to our skin. Getting it off took hours of chipping away, piece by piece, it really hurt and I lost most of my eyebrows. Experimental theatre fail!
Photographer: Ponch Hawkes
A story about a moment, big or small
I got into trouble in high school – Year 9, which is by reputation, the year in which young people go off the rails. Certainly I did. I wagged school a lot, and eventually – long story short – got caught by my Mum, lurking in the empty block next door as I waited for her to go to work. She hauled me up to the Principal, I was dressed down and had to behave for the rest of the year, which I did. However I couldn’t bring myself to go back to cooking class. Why? I don’t know. But I couldn’t. I locked myself in a toilet cubicle and read a book whenever it was on. At the end of the year I had another meeting with the Principal who confronted me with my absences. I insisted that I had attended every class. And eventually she backed down and dismissed me.
In that moment I realised the power of a lie – at least for a middle class white girl. She and I both knew that I was lying. But it is difficult and uncomfortable to call out a lie, and in that moment she did what most people will do when confronted with a bald-faced one. She accepted it and on the surface of things I got away with it. However I had seen in her face her goodwill towards me shut down and I was ashamed. I understood that I had disappointed her in a fundamental way. I had proved myself not worthy of her concern and care. I decided that, henceforward, I would tell the truth. And, mostly, I have.
Maude Davey is an actor, writer and director with her primary focus being the creation of new work. She has worked in a lot of variety and neo-burlesque as well as film and TV. Highlights include her acclaimed solo show, My Life in the Nude (2013) on stage and Summer Heights High (2007) on screen.
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