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Living with actors + a tribute to Matt


May 3, 2015 by Zara

Have you ever lived with an actor? I live with two. And another one in the past. They are, I will attest… a special breed.

You end up doing interesting things when you live with actors (and some other crazy types), I tell you. I’ve enjoyed doing random, and not so random, script readings, in the past. We don’t have a TV, so hey, you gotta make your own entertainment.

And on occasion we would pretend, the entire household, that we were in a musical; talking to each other in sung phrases and breaking into group “choreographed” dancing through the streets and the nearby park, around the trees and fountain. It’s embarrassing to recount, but it was downright fun at the time.

This particular actor, Matt, nearly takes the top off all of them. My life is starting to feel like a weird disjointed movie I walk in and out off. Anyway, let me share, because unless you’ve lived with one, you might never enjoy the… um, novel amusement I’m privy to.

I come down one morning and there’s Matt, sitting on our couch sobbing his poor little heart out. Now, many months back, I would have dropped everything, rushed over highly concerned what the matter was. Now, I’m seasoned. I know it’s Matt practicing. I walk straight through into the kitchen. But no, the sobbing is so real, I have to stop, double back and ask hesitantly, feeling quite bad that I might possibly be ruining his deliberately set-up state of distraught.

“Uh, Matt, just checking… this is acting, right?”

He looks up teary-eyed, half-smiling, “Yeah, yeah, acting, acting.” and launches straight back into some serious, heartwrenching sobbing.

“Dammit, fooled! Despite all these months!” I think, “next time I won’t be taken in.”

Over the months, I have gotten used to the rather alarming screaming and yelling that sometimes reverberates through the house. No, through the house and out onto the streets. When Matt moved in, I eventually learnt that it wasn’t some neighbour’s crazy domestics going on. It was just Matt practicing. Still, I had to emotionally hold staunch. Sometimes it sounded like someone was just about to be murdered. Some of the time, it WAS probably someone — one of Matt’s characters — about to get murdered.

Now, don’t you take that lightly. Because characters are a bit of a thing for actors. They deconstruct them. They play them. They become them. They even make you into them. The times I’ve come home and find I’m Matt’s wife, whom he’s picking a fight with because our daughter is struggling at school. Or I’m one of the last humans left on earth he’s hanging out with, planning our continued existence on another planet.

Matt walks through the house and you never know if he’s about to be a Jewish American somebody who hates his aunt, some guy who’s been betrayed and is just about to get even by staging his betrayer’s chick’s demise, a father who’s learnt his daughter has a terminal illness, or it’s Matt. I sometimes wonder if that’s what living with a schizophrenic is like.

What’s been more interesting, though, is how people respond. I watch the office workers who have come down for a smoke gathered on the footpath outside the building opposite our house. Matt’s tirade begins, clearly audible, and everyone freezes. They look around, uncomfortable, trying to suss out the source of the commotion. The heated barrage continues, peppered now with some heavy pounding and what sounds like violent furniture rearrangement. I would be highly concerned if I hadn’t known it was Matt. I watch to see if anyone would investigate, possibly try and intervene in the violence that was unfolding. No, the smokers return to some concentrated puffing on their cigarettes, and head back upstairs upon completion of their little ritual. Wow. Guess that’s why we hear stories of people getting away with domestic violence.

Matt and I, we’ve gotten close, you know. Living in the same house, you can develop this special camaraderie and closeness. So close I now apparently qualify being featured in his stories. Last week, I came home and Matt announces he’s sorry I’m dead.

“I’m dead?” Ok. I guess we’re role playing again.

“You died this afternoon.”

“Oh no.”

“Yeah, you and Henry (our other actor housemate) died. They killed you both. I was really upset.”

“That’s nice”

Ah, my dear, Matt. You weird schizo, I love you and I’m somehow honoured you have written me into one of your stories. Even though I die. Next time, can I please live?

Here is my tribute back to you. See, you’re in my story too.

xox, Z



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