Readers, I got a job. A paid job. A paid acting job. For a year. Excited doesn’t quite cover it. As of August, I shall be touring theatres across the UK and Ireland with ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Spring Awakening’, thanks to Icarus Theatre Collective.
Everybody has always said I could play a teenager. Pop me in a school uniform and pack me off with my satchel; I’m a shorty with a baby face. I was refused alcohol at Wetherspoons only last Christmas; which I am blaming on the fact I’d forgotten my ID rather than any other reason * Hiccup *
So, having initially auditioned for Juliet and ended up being cast as The Nurse, I’ve had to have a long hard look in the mirror and adjust to the fact that my casting might not be quite as youthful as I thought. Not thirteen anyway. There are clues; the beginning of lines and the increasing amount of salt in my pepper pot which means I’m starting to pay more attention to Davina McColl’s endorsements of ‘grey coverage’. Alas, it appears my Juliet ship has sailed and the role will now be resigned to the list I shall entitle ‘the parts that got away’. Sigh…. Still; no frowns- that ages the face! Besides which, the Nurse is great fun! And I very much look forward to clutching at the nipple of my dug and being horribly inappropriate.
The cherry on the cake, besides enjoying some fantastic Shakespeare and playing to proper houses with dress circles and ice-cream vendors and whatnot: a modicum of financial security. It means I do not have to have ‘that’ conversation with my parents for the next year. Watch as my shoulders creep down by three inches and my neck reappears for the first time since graduation.
My parents — like, I suspect, many of yours — are worried about me and the life I have chosen. As career minded business types, they struggle to understand how much, and more importantly why, we arty types make sacrifices in order to pursue this whimsical notion of being a jobbing actor. And though they support me wholeheartedly, they voice these concerns on a fairly regular basis.
The conversation goes a bit like this; How will you ever buy a house? How will you ever be able to provide for any children? What are you going to do? To which I get very defensive and childish and become a snarling, hostile ball of petulance. I don’t want to answer these questions. I don’t want to think about the long term in any great detail. Because it’s just too daunting. I have no idea how I will ever be able to plan for financial security. None. And it scares me to death. And if I think about it for too long it makes me want to crawl into my duvet and never come out again.
I am yet to come up with a viable ‘Plan B’. My ‘dayjobs’; the temping, the call centres, the perfume spritzing- they have been useful and have paid my bills thus far. But honestly, I don’t think I can do them for the next thirty years. It’s more than my sanity can bear. So what are the options? Find a proper, sustainable Plan B that is flexible, pick up and droppable, but brings in enough money so that at some point I may be able to support a family. Or the acting starts to pay off.
Which, at long last, it might just do. For a year at least. For a year I can stave off that conversation. Because for a year I will be earning a wage doing what I love. And for now, that’s definitely a step in the right direction.