I was at the launch of Roger Doyle’s new CD, Cool steel army, in Project last night. Doyle performed rivetingly, but there was also singing by Fionnuala Gill and a spoken segment by Jonathan Ryan. He played Adolf Gebler, a former clarinettist with the Gaiety Theatre and Radió Éireann (more here). I was so absorbed by Ryan’s portrayal of Gebler that I couldn’t understand for a moment when his performance was over – how had Gebler suddenly disappeared, to leave behind an actor?

It reminded me of a ponder I once had on the connection between art-making and acting, particularly perhaps on the night of the opening (or the opening night). I know one artist who used to throw up for days each time one of his shows was about to open. It was an unusual form of stage fright, where the performance itself had been displaced onto the artworks but somehow remained viscerally attached to the artist.

The flip-side is perhaps easier to see. Where an actor ‘authentically’ (whatever that means) inhabits a character, we would not be surprised to learn that it is a highly somatic experience. I’m intrigued, though, by the notion that artists may inhabit their works in similar way, load them with their own convictions, put on an act perhaps, but face a serious dose of the butterflies when it comes to showing others.

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