The Performance

Three minutes into the performance, and I stifled a yawn. Crammed in the front row with a clutch of fellow bored hacks, I hoped no one had noticed. However, the acclaimed actor and playwright and recently appointed head of NATS, Barry Lazarus, turned and fixed a beady eye on me from centre stage.

The Performance is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. At the end of the episode, Robert provides an insight into the story, which he wrote for Furious Fiction in February 2021.

The show notes include links to The Performance on Tall And True and the podcast's theme music and sound effects.

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Writer's Insight into The Performance

I wrote The Performance in February 2021 for the Australian Writers' Centre's monthly 500-word short story competition, Furious Fiction. The story had to:

• Take place in a SCHOOL

• Begin with the word THREE

• And include the adjectives: MAGNETIC, UNCOUTH, SUSPICIOUS, and FLOWERY.

The definition of SCHOOL was flexible. It could be an educational institution, a school of thought, or a school of fish.

I toyed with the latter idea for a while, beginning a draft story with “Three fathoms down”. But then I switched to something sci-fi-ish, with “Three parsecs out”.

And by a circuitous route, which I can’t explain, this led me to write the line, “Three minutes into the performance”. I had small parts in amateur plays when I lived in England. And I know there’s nothing worse than being caught yawning by a director during a rehearsal. I've also seen powerful performances on the stage that have shaken me awake.

Suddenly, I had my story set at the National Arts and Theatre School. The school is rehearsing its first performance under the stewardship of the acclaimed actor and playwright Barry Lazarus. A young (caffeine-deprived) journalist draws the short straw to cover the dress rehearsal. And Lazarus spots him yawning in the front row. He invites the journalist to read a part in the play and see beyond its soporific beginning.

As for the adjectives, I trust you didn't yawn and miss them in the story?

I hope you enjoyed The Performance, like the student actors and hacks. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at

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Read The Performance at

Podcast Theme and Podcast Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 'Pastorale' – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from

Footsteps on stage:

Ridicule laughter:



Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads produced using Audacity. Thanks to Josh (VoiceOverMaster) Meyer for Audacity recording tips and tricks.

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