Back End Of The Donkey

By: Anna Greening | Posted: 10th March 2011

So that's what they think of me. The back end of the donkey they said. How could that be? I've done my share of the dirty work round here, and I know I'll never play a lead role, but if this is the best they can offer me…then I quit. I'm out of here. I'll do something else. But what?

Amateur dramatics, or 'amdram' as we aficionados call it, isn't for everyone. Lots of hard work. Nerve-wracked nights. Little reward. Why the hell do we do it? Is it the applause? Is it the thrill of performance? It can't be the money - there isn't any. Maybe we all like dressing up, we revert to our collective childhood, grabbing old clothes from the dressing up box, putting on outrageous makeup, and making people laugh. Or cry. Or yawn.

Perhaps it's the frustrated sportsman in all of us. We like to be approved of. None of us is good at sport but we like to compete. Hey look at me…!!! Am I any good? Am I better than the others in this chorus line or the 'rest of cast'? Reverential approval is reserved for the leading man or woman. You simply can't compete with that. It's pre-destined from the first moment they step up to read for the part. But even 'on-stage stragglers' like me still get the sort of approval our local rugby team gets. The audience clap, even after a less-than-perfect performance, and we get none of the abuse or injuries, so on the whole it's a safer bet than sport.

But back end of the donkey? No thanks. Not even for a standing ovation. Anyway I've got a bad back. The prospect of standing bent over for an hour behind 'front of donkey' doesn't bear thinking about. Confidentially, I wouldn't mind if 'front of donkey' was that glossy piece from the next village that keeps popping in to see if we've got a part for her. At least I could take my torch into the costume, and I'd have something tasty to look at, and maybe even hold on to. We haven't seen her round here recently, ever since the stage manager told her he's got a very well-used part she could try for her if she'd care to come back after rehearsals. Coarse fellow, the stagey.

Mind you, if she'd shown up before I got my new online glasses I doubt I'd have recognised her.

For years now, people have told me I need prescription glasses. At readings I spend the whole time screwing my eyes up to focus, and then I have to do the same thing to see my cue from stage right to enter stage left. The producer said I need bifocals, but let's face it, I couldn't wear glasses if I'm cast in some period piece set at a time before spectacles were even worn. Last year I was one of the Scottish play's witches again. I would have looked plain ridiculous in designer glasses and a pointy hat. Pointy hats is never a good look, but with designer specs. I don't think so.

Another thing - like theatrical types everywhere, I do like to look my best in public, you know. I couldn't imagine I'd be able to get designer frames which still look OK with bifocal lenses. The other important consideration for me is that, like most theatrical types, I'm nearly skint, so I decided to see if anyone does online prescription glasses. Hey…!!! They do. One company has been at it since the whole World Wide Web was about a millionth of what it is now. If they've been around that long, I thought to myself, they must be the best for glasses.

Browsing through their store I came across Dolce & Gabanna, Gant, Vivienne Westwood even, and loads of other designers. Glory be…they had Bench, my all-time favourite. I like to look 'street'.

Got the eyes tested, and told the opto what I do for 'fun'. I could swear she smirked, but we'll overlook that. She wrote me out a prescription which I thought was going to look like Egyptian hieroglyphics. I must have an instinct for this kind of thing, because it turns out she is Egyptian. What are the chances, eh? Anyway, it turns out the prescription isn't difficult to copy at all, so I entered it on the website and got some great prescription spectacles back a couple of days later. Bench frames look really cool, and I can see clearly now.

Hot to trot, I showed up in my new designer glasses at the audition for the annual panto, and the totally useless casting guy had me down for back of donkey. Is he having a laugh? No thank you! Enough of that, I'm off to the new speed dating club to see if these glasses improve my chances.


Anna Greening writes about cycling, tea drinking and sometimes, fashion, she bought her latest designer prescription glasses online from
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Tags: bet, nerve, makeup, old clothes, clap, applause, first moment, sportsman, dirty work, donkey, lead role, torch