In theatre, the greenroom is the place backstage where the actors get ready. The audience comes to see the show, and they are not privy to the chaotic madness transpiring in the greenroom. If life is the Show, then the Greenroom is the private space which you inhabit – the room in which you prepare for life. The Show and the Greenroom are different for everybody, and the script and characters change as you move through life.
At Five years old, my Greenroom was not green – it was a sunny yellow. My parents built it for me. They filled it with fluffy clouds and beautiful textured blankets. It offered warmth and security. The Show was performed by three. It was filled with long dirt tracks, camping grounds and secluded lagoons, all brimming with adventure and laughter. The scene took us on a plane to Saudi Arabia, where the landscape changed to vast deserts of gold, though the warmth and security remained constant.
At Eight we lost a character. My dad was removed as a protagonist, and agreed to only appear in small cameo roles. The Show shifted to a duo, but it was still a comedy. The Greenroom was lined with paper of candy pink. It was a delightful space, but I could see the fraying edges of the blackets, and sensed the shifting of the tides as I watched the wallpaper begin to peel.
At Eleven a new character was added to the Show. The Greenroom became a mess of conflicting people, all sporting different props and running in alternate directions. The walls started to become covered with my academic achievements. The script was sourced from hot anger and black confusion. I tried to undermine the other players. I made the Show into an act of rebellion.
At 15 I fired the cast and crew. I made my own show, and for the first time selected only the characters I wanted. The Greenroom undertook dramatic transformation. Lit only by candlelight, I filled it with esoteric and spiritual treasures. I changed my costume. To the haunting sounds of the Smashing Pumpkins, I stripped off the clothes my parents gave me, and donned a pair of blue cords and green doc martins. I dyed my hair black. I painted on black eyeliner, and coated my eyes in glitter. I changed the script. I darkened the space, widened the theatre, and invited strange and glorious people onto the stage with me. We collided, and engaged in episodes of interpretive dance, and fought in heated dialogue, all to the score of Rage Against the Machine. I was the protagonist. The cast grew and interwoven storylines appeared. The script turned emotional. A sadness and depth of despair was brought in, and countered with the first of many love scenes that were going to feature in each susequent Show. This Show introduced some feature performers – my best friend, my first love, and the man who was to become my husband over a decade later.
At 18 I performed a black comedy. This Show was a collaboration between me and my newfound friend for life – Saran. Other characters came and went, making exciting and hysterical appearances, but in reality it was a two man act. And it was one of the best of my life. Yet the Greenroom painted a slightly different picture. It was indeed a jovial space of bubbling laughter, throngs of humorous people, endless cigarettes, and margaritas spilling over. But there was a dark corner reserved only for me. In the blackness of that space I would float into despair. I would meet depression there and let him suck freshly on my growth. I would cut my arms to try to eradicate him, and then bandage them up before re-joining the frivolous cast.
At 21 I scripted a romantic comedy. Ross and I were at the forefront of the Show. I loved this show. I wanted it to carry on forever. I made the Greenroom into a nest – a space that was pale blue, where we could lay together in peace. I chose a soundtrack by Lamb, for the backing music, and filled the theatre with white rose petals.
But at 24 that Show came to an abrupt end. Ross took everything with him when he left. I had no show. And my Greenroom was an empty shell. I could hear nothing but the eerie melody of Nathan Gaunt filtering through the desolate theatre.
At 25 I rewrote the show, and filled it with flickering love scenes. I made it into a mixture of a game show and a comedy of errors. I added multiple sets and had the audience traverse the globe with me. I found many exquisite characters, and played out divine scenes of deep yet fleeting love. My Greenroom was an ever-changing vessel of adventure, littered with trinkets from travels, broken compasses, and notes from love found and then lost. The playlist alternated from hip-hop, to Deftones, to ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ by Damien Rice.
At 27 I started the best Show of my life. I rediscovered the love of my life, and rewrote Ross back into the script as a permanent protagonist. It was time to add another character too … a baby. I adored building this production. It was the happiest and most content I have ever been in both the Show, and the Greenroom, which was being altered into a nursery. But I was not allowed to complete my vision for this Show. The producer made sudden and dramatic decision. He took a character out by death. He killed my mother off. She was erased from the script, with no possible chance of making another appearance – even as a cameo. I gave up on the Show. I quit. For six weeks I died. The Greenroom was crafted into a hellish realm of grief, cloaked in darkness, and pungent with the aroma of pain. I stayed curled up in this space for six weeks, before Ross slowly drew me out into the light of the theatre.
At 27 Ross and I were forced to devise a new show, or else we would lose our baby from the script forever. We changed the setting and moved the theatre. We constructed a new one built from the foundations of the past. We set the Show in a little blue house, and made a commitment to reside in that place for all our remaining days on earth. Our baby came into that space, and it magically transformed into a bubble of unconditional love and devotion. I slowly withdrew from my black petticoat and put on the white tracksuit of motherhood. I pulled layers of clothing for Ross and he donned the attire of the strong and dependable provider. We played these roles well.
But our roles from the past could not be shed so easily. They accumulated residue under the surface. The Show was forced to change too quickly. We had to make executive decisions in the face of grief and death. There was no time to construct a well-planned script. We were thrown into this new play, and we had to make the best of what we had. It was a damn good show, considering the pressure it was performed under. We even managed to make a beautiful little daughter in the middle act. But it could have been so much better. It could have been perfect … if we were only allowed the time to develop the vision properly. We were robbed of that chance.
At 33 the pressure of this Show became too much. I faltered and crumbled. I could no longer deliver the lines. I could no longer dress in the costume of the superhuman mother and deny all the pain I covered up in the Greenroom. I didn’t like the Show I had created anymore. I needed to radically change it. So I stripped my Greenroom bare. It is now an empty shell again. And, for the first time in my life, I have no idea what I want it to look like. I know I want to keep the main characters. But I want a different course of action. I want a different storyline. So where do I begin?
This post was inspired by the prompt word GREEN at The Daily Post.