Having just about roused myself from my post-turkey coma, it appears we have stumbled, plastic champagne flute in one hand, To-Do list in the other, into 2012. Happy New Year everybody! I trust you have all recovered from bidding farewell to 2011 and have set yourselves up with some resolutions to break next week?
Personally, I had a splendiferous Christmas with the family, and now have a new Kindle on which to spend lots of imaginary Amazon money, which is almost certainly not the same as real money. With the last show with Chaplins filling the interim between Christmas and New Year, I passed a quietly joyful transition from 2011 to 2012 and things have been generally jubilant since we last spoke.
Excepting that is, having my phone pickpocketed whilst out at the market! Some highly irritating and evil individual with the stealth of a ninja and fingers as swift as Stevie Wonder robbed my lovely, shiny I-phone whilst I was merrily jostling round Camden Lock. To that individual: Merry ruddy Christmas you thieving gits. I am almost a hundred percent sure that this was the week that the RSC looked through their pile of submission letters and decided to give me a tinkle. If this career I have in front of me doesn’t pan out I shall pinpoint this event as the moment when it all went wrong. In an appeal to those of you who are technically inclined; does anyone know if the service provider stores your incoming calls and messages etc. on a secret file that you can reach when you get your new sim? Is that possible? We have a man on the moon- we must be able to retrieve my RSC voicemail!
As every other person is updating their Facebook status bemoaning their return to work this week, I can’t help wishing I was one of them. Oh, to join the legions of begrudging alarm setters and sulky clock-watchers! As indicated in my last blog, 2012 is scarily void of employment: acting or otherwise.
Whilst there’s no pay cheque coming in, I honestly feel like I have never worked harder than when I am ‘resting’. What a horribly misleading term that is. Who came up with it? It’s mean and inaccurate and if I’m resting how come I’m so tired?
In between the hours of trawling casting sites, theatre company sites and firing off carefully crafted emails and letters and feeling like you’ve physically achieved very little, any time you do take to, I don’t know… rest, feels like you’re slacking. I hear the school teacher’s voice in my head: ‘you’re only cheating yourself.’
For all those miserable people that tell you to get a ‘proper’ job- I seriously doubt they imagine us hunched over our laptops torturing ourselves fretting over novel and engaging ways of asking someone for a job. I wonder if they know how much work goes into all the other bits besides acting. The business side of being an actor transforms us into researchers, historians, writers, marketing and PR people, web designers, graphic designers, on occasion we’re sound engineers and lighting designers and to top it off we’re our own receptionists and have to make our own tea.
To ensure I don’t get lazy and sink into a Jeremy Kyle filled abyss, I have spent my Christmas pennies on another couple of events back at The Actors Guild.
Having had a bit of a bard-a-thon this year, the first workshop I took was with casting director Ginny Schiller on ‘Auditioning for Shakespeare’. Ginny is like a walking first folio and the session was incredibly useful on a practical level; with general tips on approaching your audition and one to one coaching on our prepared monologues.
The pleasure of workshops at TAG, is being in a situation where you can comfortably ask all those ‘stupid’ questions. For example, I’ve always been torn whether or not I’m allowed to address the casting director during a monologue etc. I’d feel odd doing an emotional outpouring to the person behind the desk and then in the next breath try to convince them to employ me. The simple answer to my question was: ask. Each casting director has different preferences but they all want you to do your best and if reading in with you helps they may well be happy to do so.
There was a bucket load of other useful nuggets; read the whole play, don’t choose the most obscure monologue for the sake of it and be wary of slipping into your ‘Shakespeare voice.’ The one that really stuck with me was; don’t be afraid of those big, epic monologues- they’re popular because they’re incredibly well written and can probably show off your versatility and emotional range. The proof was in the pudding when one chap stood up and delivered the most gorgeously disturbed Hamlet I’ve ever seen.
More workshops and endeavours at self-improvement to come. No rest for the wicked.