Here are two examples of Michael's humorous writings. Others available upon request. Please e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Bard to Verse
The Cat's Meow
First published; Beat Magazine, 10 September, 2008, page 33.
Recently traipsed around the country playing Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Kept a diary. Here are some extracts.
Day 1. Mobile rings. Offered the part. Consider hiring the film version to aid preparations. Decide against it. Years ago, got out the video of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum when cast in same. Realised, rather too late, that I hadn't so much played Marcus Lycus, as I'd played Phil Silvers playing Marcus Lycus.
Day 15. First read through with full cast. I mispronounce quite a bit of the Old English. Hope director didn't notice. Wonder if I should have hired the film version.
Day 17. Several of us now travel to work on the same train. To pass time, we rehearse in transit. Each time we do, a fellow traveler stands, walks in front of us; pretends to stretch legs, but, in reality, wants to check who we are. Once he realises we haven't been on Neighbours, passenger returns to seat.
Day 19. The railways are giving away free showbags. Make sure I get one with every trip. Not certain how play's going, but I'm makin' out like a bandit with the free pens.
Day 22. Everyone is allowed to leave early, except me. Stay behind, with the director, working on my "big scene" - the gulling of Malvolio. Feel a bit like I've got detention.
Day 24. Costume fitting. Try on the yellow tights and kilt. We debate hem line. Decide on just above the knee.
Day 40. Opening. Seems to go well. Director pops into my dressing room afterwards. Tells me he had a wonderful night, and lots to drink. Convince myself these two comments aren't related.
Day 56. During one of the serious scenes, two pigeons descend, and proceed to make furious, vocal love. Gets big laughs. Wonder if birds know we've got another show tomorrow at four.
Day 65. Post show, spend the longest 42 minutes of my life discussing Monster Trucks with a patron. Wonder how long new chum would have lasted if positions had been reversed and I'd blathered on about show tunes.
Day 82. Interesting retort from audience member. To the Lady Oliva's question, "What is a drunk man like?", Homer Simpson look-a-like in front row calls out; "Like me!"
Day 109. Lots of glowing comments about my legs, some of them from women.
Day 121. On the plane, hear there's a review out. Wonder why every cast member knows about this before me. Have visions of being slammed -
All the players are wonderful, save for Michael Jeffery. His lack of experience as a Shakespearean actor is glaringly obvious.
Touch down, dash to computer. Review's positive, particularly encouraging about my "gulling" scene. Feel enormously relieved.
Day 142. Family come to see show. Tell me later they didn't really understand it, but liked the paella.
Day. 171. Feel sense of accomplishment when watch the film and am able to pick which scenes from the stage version have been altered.
Day 179. With the tour almost at an end, prepare for my big scene. One of the producers approaches. Convinced she's about to tell me how far I've come. Instead, she pauses, bends down and whispers into my ear - Michael; you're kilt's tucked up in your undies.
Michael Jeffery is a Melbourne based actor and writer.
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First published; Beat Magazine, 26 January, 2004, page 27.
For quite some time I had thought about it. Indeed, I'd gone close more than once. Then, a short time ago, I finally took the plunge. Just recently I did it - I attended my first cat show.
The reasons for my attendance were varied. Yes, I was looking for some material for this column, but I also wanted to know if my own cat; the creatively named "Kitty" might be a contender at future shows. The idea of her winning prize after prize and my retiring to a life of palatial homes, polo and Porsches did, I'll admit, hold some appeal.
The venue for the feline extravaganza, according to the public notices section of the Herald Sun, was to be a secondary school east of Melbourne. I sourced the appropriate bus timetable, started my journey.
Alighting the bus, I spotted a hall and signs of life - cars, kids playing out the front - rare things in the grounds of a school on a Sunday. I peered in, only to be greeted with much hand waving, singing, and excited shouts of "Jesus be praised!" Now, I'd seen that film Best In Show, and couldn't remember any similar displays, so decided to seek clarification.
Just then I spotted a groundsman; a balding fellow in his 50s who, by the looks of him, had spent many a year out in the noon day sun. I attracted this chap's attention and then, in the butchest voice I could summon bellowed - "G-day mate, could you tell me which way to the cat show please?"
Following the gentleman's suggestions, I trotted down a path, took a few turns, and there was another hall. More cars. One had a bumper sticker - "Dogs have owners, cats servants." This seemed the place. The second hall was quite a deal larger than the first. Evidently, in this suburb at least, purrs were preferred to prayers.
I assumed entry would be by gold coin donation, so already had one dollar ready. Before I could part with the dough, overheard a conversation. The exchange went something like this -
First person: Oh, Dot, Beryl wanted to charge me for a piece of cake. I'd have thought, being a judge, that I'd have been entitled to free cake.
Second Person: Well Mavis, we didn't charge you for your first piece of cake, but any pieces after that you do need to pay for.
I made my way further inside. There were about ten areas sectioned off, with what seemed to be different breeds in each location. The cats were all in metal enclosures. I deliberately avoid referring to such cubicles as "cages" because, really, they were anything but. Satin, and if I'm not mistaken, silk drapes adorned each enclosure. There was plenty of room to stretch and scratch, and more than one cat had his or her own hand embroidered pillow.
A judging was about to begin, so I positioned myself down the front, and awaited the formalities.
The adjudicator, a kindly looking 60 something, began to address those assembled. Apparently his lady had "lived in the cat world" for 30 years. She certainly knew her stuff. I did notice, however, that in most categories I saw judged only two cats competed. I imagined a post event conversation -
John: And how did Puss fare at the show?
Jan: Wonderfully, she came second, five times.
One cat was particularly impressive. Her whole demeanour spelt "star". Indeed she even got a lusty purr going during the judging. This was truly the Miss Australia of cats.
Another, though, was far less cooperative. He hissed, scratched, and even attempted to bite one of the handlers. I could just image, if this cat had been able to speak, his complaints -
I don't want all these people gawking at me, you dragged me away from the good spot on the couch, etc...
There was a break in the judging. As the bus I needed only ran every hour, I made my exit. Heading home, I weighed up the experience. Overall, there were very few, if any attendees I could describe as "eccentrics". Rather, they were seemingly good-natured animal lovers enjoying each other's company, and that of their feline companions.
One thing was for sure though; I would not be entering "Kitty" in a future comp. On reflection, she hates to be handled, even by me, and would in all likelihood cause a major incident. Besides, one spotlight chaser in the family is probably more than enough...
Michael Jeffery is a Melbourne based actor and writer.