The Pattaya City Expats Club was honored to have Tweed Harris speak at their Sunday, August 13 meeting about his experiences as an author, actor, playwright, stage director and teacher. Tweed, now living in Jomtien, has authored several books, is credited with over 200 stage shows, loves directing and just recently retired as a Drama/English/Math teacher. He has worked in England, Wales, Nigeria and Australia. He continues his many endeavors, including working with local community theater groups, such as Pattaya Players and Ben’s Theater Group.
He explained that his talk would place emphasis on humor and comedy but with some tragedy, much like the real lives of all of us. He performed an emotional skit from the play “Alfie”, concerning abortion; about a man that arranges an abortion for a married woman that he had gotten pregnant. He explained how his acting experiences shaped his views on many aspects of life, including abortion.
He asked the audience how many had acting experience? Since only a few hands were raised he countered by saying, we are all actors. For example, if our “significant-other” asks about how they look in a new outfit, we will demonstrate our acting skills by offering a complement, whether we mean it or not. We are constantly being asked “How are you?” and even if we are in an absolute slump in our lives at the moment, we always say “Fine!” Acting is just the art of performing fictional roles. We all do it, even if it is not a conscience act. Acting is just doing the duties of other persons, even if those other persons are real, or just imaginary.
Acting skills are an important part of most cultures, probably a part of the human condition, and is based on the pretense of attempting to make something that is not true, appear true. We often pretend to be happy, interested, disappointed, scared or annoyed, when we are, in fact, completely disinterested. Some of us are better than others, if you are a good actor, you will give the appearance of being real, if not, you might be labeled a fake, as pretending, or just lying. The easiest way to seem real, is to be real.
Tweed talked about his early life in England, during World War II. He experienced the frequent bombings and having to stay in shelters. He said he was somewhat oblivious of the effects of war, even though the family home was destroyed. He remembers the comradery among those who shared the shelters and how people coped with the traumatic events that surrounded them. He talked about the singing that took place during that time and the actual happiness that people felt or pretended to feel.
He mentioned that he knew he was gay at a very early age, perhaps ten or so. Later, he attended an all-boys school and was confronted by his mother about having a girlfriend. He confided to his mother about his “orientation” and she said that she needed to go see a doctor. He said he was ok, but his mother said, no, that she had to see a doctor, because she didn’t know how to react. His father was also informed and simply asked if he was happy, he said he was. Both parents accepted his “condition” and there were no further issues.
He told how his mother took him to a theater when he was about four where they saw a musical. The lead singer noticed Tweed in the audience, mouthing the words to the song. She pointed at him and told him to meet her back stage. She asked how he knew the words to the song, since it was something new. He said that he had heard it once and was able to memorize the words. She tested him with another song and he repeated the song. She was impressed with his skills and asked him to join the group, starting his acting career.
At the age of sixteen he ran away from home and ended up in Australia. He did not know anyone there but did quickly find employment on a farm, cleaning horse stables and tending the animals. He was instructed to not ride the horses but he disobeyed. The farm owner caught him riding but eventually taught him how to train horses. He took his new skills to his next job as a circus hand.
Tweed has performed in a couple of hundred plays, writing many that he acted in, which are available on “stageplays.com”. He began writing and editing books, including an autobiography titled “D’Gay Mates”, which was published in 2011. He published “A Collection of Short Stories by Tweed Harris” about romance, aliens, the supernatural, love and sex. In 2016, he published “For The First Time – Again: Love Can Happen Twice”, a story of life’s passions, twists of fate and two chances to fall in love. The next book, a change of pace, is, “Talk To Me – I Am A Cat”, a biography of a remarkable cat and his human friend.
He then wrote a book concerning his acting and directing experiences called “Stage Bloopers”. He talked briefly about the book and relayed a few “bloopers” including a story about him playing a shepherd during the time of Jesus. He walked on stage, raised his hand and declared. “Lo, yon star shines brighter than the rest” exposing a silver wristwatch he had forgotten to remove; thus he avoided showing that arm for the rest of the play. Tweed performed a couple of songs and answered questions at the end of his entertaining presentation.
After the presentation, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand.
For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.