Monday, 28 November 2011

The Next Peaks

Yesterday saw the last day of the Introduction to Acting course at the Actors' Centre. A very helpful six hours spent on tv and film, based on Eastenders and Hollyoaks scripts.

(I'm not a soap fan, nor am I fan of constant close-ups, with camera bouncing from face to face in order, supposedly, to capture the intensity of the emotional moment. For me, the technique is superficial, a symptom of the short attention spans of the internet age, briefly showing emotion without truly involving the audience. In contrast, in films from the 1940s and 1950s shots were longer in both distance and time and close-ups were used sparingly; that allowed the emotion of the scene to build up and become much deeper and more intense.)

But I can set these personal prejudices aside and appreciate the skills and talents required both to act in and to film today's stories, and thanks to yesterday I am a little closer to being able to perform competently in front of the lens.

Seeing myself on screen was instructive in many ways. I had not realised exactly how big my ears are or how deep the bags under my eyes. (Why do mirrors flatter us while camera lenses mock us?) Nor had I realised that my open, unmoving mouth, instead of conveying surprise or desire to speak, suggests nothing more than mental subnormality. On the other hand, once my mouth is closed, my face conveys much more subtlety of emotion than I had expected, and overall I came across as a serious actor rather than a talentless wannabe.

So, the course ended and those of us who made it to the final day walked away with a well-deserved sense of achievement. But, as I pointed out to one of my fellow-students (and I think wrote about here earlier in the month), each time we think we have achieved something, all we have done is reached the top of a small peak. If we look forward, not back, we will see how much more there is to learn and do.

My next two peaks are approaching fast. One is another Shakespeare audition, next Monday, which I hope will be more successful than my Twelfth Night disaster. The other peak is the two short films I have committed to this month - which I am sure will be even more challenging than the weeks that have just gone by. And as with all challenges, I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Laughter? A Lullaby? A Lurk?

What's the collective noun for luvvies? Maybe I'll find out tonight when two of us hold a joint birthday party in a bar near King's Cross. I have other questions that I need answered. What is the maximum number of Darling!s allowed before one is officially drunk? What is the exchange rate between Denches and Redgraves? How do I work out which of my fellow thespians has coat-tails I should cling on to before they rise into super-stardom? As a budding player, I have so much to learn!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Horror! The Horror!

What do you do when you apply for an audition, the producer / director tells you they're very keen to see you, you get excited, and then they send you the script. Which is awful. Terrible. Appalling. Naive and childish. With no redeeming factors. Whatsoever. None at all. None. N-O-N-E.

It's a student film, but that's no excuse. I've auditioned for some interesting, intelligent concepts in the last couple of months, including the one I have been given a role in. But this... What was précised as a study of an individual under stress turns out to be a whimsical science fiction piece, totally devoid of internal logic (SF can be as absurd as it likes, as long as the underlying principles hold it together),with unbelievable characters and excrutiatingly simplistic (although meant to be intelligent and witty) dialogue.

I could be wrong and I'm turning my nose up at the next Gone With The Wind or Star Wars. I've invented an excuse, of course. Told them that other commitments have come up, terribly sorry to inconvenience them, wish them luck, etc etc. But I've also learned a lesson. Do not appear to be too enthusiastic at the start, or it can become difficult to extricate yourself once you see what a mess you could be getting into.

Monday, 21 November 2011

We Don't Haf Vays Of Making You Talk

Two frustrating days at the Actors' Centre with the delightful Vicky. (The more time I spend with her, the more I want to hug her, but it ain't going to happen.) The problem? Our foreign students, two of whom have a tenuous grasp of English. They may be delightful people - and I've got to like one in particular more and more as the month has gone by - but their inability to engage with the text, or to respond to Vicky's gentle directions, considerably slowed down our "production" of the first act of The Cherry Orchard. (Of course you know that that's author Anton Chekhov in the pic.) Clomping across the makeshift stage instead of entering by the wings, speaking in a girlish whisper when the part requires a manly arrogance, drawing cartoons in one's notebook when being given notes, are just a few of the issues that would have tested the patience of lesser directors. In short, considerable time was spent coaxing the non-native speakers along, which could have been much better used with the rest of the cast, who had potential that could be developed.

Still, the time wasn't entirely wasted; we have finally begun to bond as a group and some of us have definitely developed as the time has gone by. I wasn't impressed by my script-in-hand performance yesterday, but three or four others showed real talent and I am sure I will see them again on stage or screen. And in compensation, I've just been given my first (short) film part. It's a fun piece, designed to go viral - and I think there's a good chance of that happening. More details towards the end of the year.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hear Me Roar

I leave the Actors Centre for an early lunch to walk up to Grape Street for my next audition, one of the many student films that do not pay but which keep players on their acting toes. Despite the fact the last time I had to prepare a monologue the presentation I gave was abysmal (when I gave a weak Malvolio - and the wrong speech - to a sceptical director), I'm optimistic about this one. Instead of telling myself I have no need to go over my lines because I remember them so well, I walk up Shaftesbury Avenue insistently muttering "I'm not good-looking. I'm not good-looking", presuming that the passers-by will take me for one of the harmless homeless who loiter in the area.

The assertion (whether or not true, is not for me to say) is the opening line to Berenger's final speech in Ionesco's Rhinoceros, when everyone else in the town has turned into the eponymous animal and he's regretting the fact that he has been unable to do the same. He goes on to compare, unfavourably, his smooth brow with the horns that those magnificent animals have and his white, hairy body to their wonderful dull green skin. Then he wishes he could trumpet in the same way they do. But it's too late. He will never become a rhinoceros now.

I came into the audition room where director, scriptwriter and cameraman were smiling and waiting. After the introductory pleasantries, I got up to give my speech. With an imagined mirror on one side of the room and, supposedly, rhinoceroses rampaging through the town on the other side of the opposite wall, I began my lament and built up to an almighty roar as I tried to imitate the pachyderms' sound. In the end, however, I accepted my fate as the world's last human, I swore that I would fight the lot of them to the very end.

It was good. It felt good and I could see from the audience's eyes that I impressed. From there it was three short scenes improvising, wordlessly, on the scenario of a stationmaster at work in a deserted office. The feedback there was good too. I left walking on air, pleased with myself and my abilities. Of course, I may never get a callback - they may see a dozen actors better than me - but it's a still a good feeling, knowing that I stretched myself, knowing that I can give a good audition and will not always perform as disastrously as I once did.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Ask Me The Question Again

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm highly impressed by Vicky, our Scene and Text tutor at the Actors Centre. If I were (a) heterosexual and (b) single, I'd consider marrying her, but since neither of these conditions apply, she's safe from my predatory charms.

After two sessions on modern texts, yesterday she led us into Hamlet and The One And Only To Be Or Not To Be Monologue. I've read it before, but never devoted much time to it; in fact if I've had any opinion about it, it's that it's too long and convoluted. Now, thanks to Ms V, I'm still of the opinion that it's too long, but it's also straightforward.

Unlike previous texts, where she took us through the scene line by line, she skipped through it, pausing only to translate difficult words. The next step was to have a volunteer read-act it. A fan of Shakespeare, my hand shot up and I was sent out of the room for five minutes to prepare. When I came back, I found myself pouring out my Danish soul and the agonising question as to whether or not to top myself to eleven jeering so-called friends who basically informed me that my opinions were rubbish.

Surprised, I ploughed on, knowing that I had to convince them to take me seriously. To do so, I adopted various strategies, including addressing the whole group and going down on one knee to try and persuade at least one person that suicide was a viable option.  The experience was both frustrating and invigorating, both showing me the limits of my acting (I couldn't persuade them) and the strenghs (my speech gained considerably in passion).

Vicky then had each of us take the piece and make it our own; we had decide how our invisible audience was going to react, and present our speech accordingly. Thus the key lesson of the day - in any soliloquy, Shakespearean or otherwise, imagine your audience's response and respond to that response.

The results were impressive. As expected, the twins - as I have mentally christened our Scouser and her new found Kent girl-friend - came up with pure soap, in scenes that were both gripping and amusing. Our Polish model, whose grasp of English is tenuous, started with a series of syllables that I could barely understand, but by the end of the class had moved towards sentences that were still thick with accent, but which clearly reflected the sense, if not yet the emotion, of Hamlet's speech. Of the others, all the native speakers managed to convey some emotion, some point of interest that held our attention, while all the foreigners, if they could not give the words nuance, at least demonstrated that they clearly understood what a poet, 400 years ago, had written.

As for my own encore, I started with an open question, reacted with surprise and pleading to my imaginary, jeering audience, then turned to anger and finally resignation as I realised that I could not convince them. It wasn't a performance to win a Tony; it probably wasn't even a performance to convince a director, but it was a performance that carried on the process of teaching me how to get into a text and how to make it so much bigger and better than I had thought possible.

So what's next? The first act of the Cherry Orchard, to take us over Saturday and Sunday, interrupted only by another audition, for a student film where I would be the only performer....

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Looking down on Jerusalem

To the theatre on Monday night, again with the sultry (and fidgety) Ms N and the suave Mr T. Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, a Royal Court production transferred to Apollo. Over three hours long. Sensational reviews. Packed, four-level house, with N, T and me in the very back row of the highest tier of The Gods. Did we enjoy it? How fresh was the Curate's Egg? (No, I'm not going to explain the origins of that phrase.)

The success of any theatrical experience depends on a variety of circumstances. The theatregoer's physical state (tired? stomach full? seat comfortable?), intellectual capacity (what do you like? what do you know?), others around them (people coughing? checking their phones? shifting in their seats?) all affect how much s/he enjoys the experience, no matter how good the script, actors and director.

The Gods at the Apollo are noisy. Seats creak. Floorboards resonate as men with over-full bladders make for the toilet (directly behind where we were sitting) and let the door slam behind them. People (including the sultry Ms N) drop things. Loudly. The stage is Very Far Away and there is a safety bar directly in your line of sight. You can barely distinguish players' faces, far less their expressions, at this distance. (Only later did I realise one was the very recognisable Mackenzie Crook.)

The dedicated theatregoer should be able to ignore such distractions and focus on the play, so let us turn our attention to the stage. We were offered a simple tale, as summarised by Wikipedia: "On St. George's Day, the morning of the local county fair, Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, local waster and modern day Pied Piper, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his son Marky wants his dad to take him to the fair, Troy Whitworth wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of mates want his ample supply of drugs and alcohol."

These plotlines all offer potential but Jerusalem is less story than portrait. There is some tension - will Johnny defy his evictors? (we assume not); will teenage Lee get to Australia? (again we assume not); will Ginger realise his dream of dj-ing at the local fair? (the omens are not good) - but Butterworth is less concerned with taking us on a journey than with painting a picture of contemporary rural England. And, in Butterworth's view, contemporary rural England consists of two tribes: free spirits who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex and four-letter words, and the bureaucrats and anonymous dwellers of housing estates who would restrain them. 

It's a depressing picture. Of course we don't want to be killjoys, but the alternative offers little more. Yes, there is the exuberance and celebration of youth, as personified in Byron's hangers-on, but youth passes quickly and once it has gone the only options appear to be a lifetime of excess, which can never entirely banish physical and mental pain or the mental rigidity of the petite bourgeoisie. Only one character on stage, the fey, aging Professor, appears to have achieved tolerance and contentment without drugs or alcohol, and only because he is sustained by the illusion of mythical vanished England.

And if its inhabitants have little to look forward to, neither does rural Albion. Its future hangs between row upon endless row of anonymous housing and vast wastelands of broken down caravans surrounded by the detritus of years of party-making. Even that is an illusion, for we know that this generation's pristine houses will become the slums of the next generation.

The strong, if disheartening, picture, is given life by both the direction (by Ian Rickson) and cast. Mark Rylance, at the centre, as Byron, gives a powerful performance and is ably supported by his fellow-players, although only a few have the opportunity to develop their characters. As for the script... Was its length a strength or a failing? (Remember that a full Hamlet would take about five hours to stage.) Did Jerusalem really drag in its final act, I wondered? Does it need coda to follow coda, or would only one suffice? Or did the fault lie with me and the Twit world we live in, where attention spans are limited to 140 characters?

Despite the semi-standing ovation around us, my companions were dismissive of the play. Mr T suggested that any actor can portray excess energy (I'm not so sure). On my way home I wondered whether they were confusing three distinct ideas: the world portrayed; the script that revealed it; and the players who presented it. What was it that N and T disliked? All three?

Forty-eight hours later I am of the opinion that the acting was excellent and that the script was very good. I suspect that if I had had a comfortable seat in the stalls, with a clear view and with no companions clinking ice in their plastic containers or writhing like over-active children, I would have appreciated the whole evening much more. I am getting too old for The Gods and like the Raven I am tempted to say Nevermore, Nevermore.

Whatever my doubts about the play, they would of course disappear if a voice from The Gods declaimed that I was to appear on that stage. Up till now I have only been thinking of fringe theatre and the occasional voiceover, but I hear the very distant call of the West End and wonder if it is beckoning me...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Shame, the Shame, Oh the Shame!

My left leg is sore. I've been busy kicking myself. Hard. Ouch. And Again. Double Ouch.

I turned up at an audition for Twelfth Night yesterday, very pleased with my Malvolio speech that I had been preparing for 10 days and revealed at my acting course.

First problem: I was supposed to give two speeches - both dictated by the producers. Had I not seen that information when preparing for this audition? No, I admitted, my face colouring in embarrassment and shame.

Director and Other-Person-In-The-Room-Whose-Role-I-Have-Forgotten were gracious. Could I give the Malvolio speech I had prepared? Yes, I could. Bring on the Second problem. My speech was terrible. My "Malvolio" voice melted into my normal tones. I stared into mid-air. The subtleties that I had been able to reveal the many times I had rehearsed it disappeared. Instead of bringing Olivia's steward to life, I drained him of all depth and colour.

What about my other speech? Was it another of Malvolio's, as it should have been? No. More embarrassment, more shame. I could give them Shylock's reaction to Antonio's request for money, I said with a faint, hopeful smile. Please do. I went ahead, addressing Other Person. That performance came alive. It wasn't my best, but it was strong and varied and it showed that I did indeed understand The Bard and could give a reasonable rendering of his words.

It didn't matter. There was still the Third problem. I had thought this production was for much later in the year, but its rehearsal times conflicted with my commitment to As You Like It. So, with polite smiles and handshakes I was dismissed, and I kicked myself all the way home...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Speaking prose

Progress at the Actors Centre... Last night was the first session of scene and text with Vicki. The first hour was theory - analysing a script into objectives, units, events etc; the last part was practice - playing around with the opening pages of Mike Bartlett's Cock.

Like Monsieur Jourdain in Moliere's play, who discovers he has been speaking prose all his life, we opened our eyes to what we presumably already knew without naming it: that plays do not exist without a purpose, that actions and lines move the plot forward and the more we analyse a text, the better we are able to understand it.

The final part of the evening was assigning different, and sometimes contradictory, attitudes (Vicki called them actions, but I find that term confusing because it makes me think of physical acts) to the duologue between M and John in Bartlett's play. It was an interesting exercise - saying "don't fucking do that" in a loving tone in the midst of a speech that was definitely written as aggressive. It was also difficult to switch from mood to mood within a few words, particularly when we were still reading the lines. And it would have looked ridiculous on the stage. But it was an exciting and energising process that opened up the potential in both the text and ourselves. I went home once again feeling that I had learnt and progressed.

So much for business. What about pleasure? Once again, when the class ended, the eleven of us (one of the most talented has dropped out) scurried away, unlike my last acting course, when we filled the local boozer each night. I've suggested that we all go for a drink after class on Saturday evening, but I'm not convinced there'll be more than a couple of us. Group bonding does not seem to be our forte...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

She Liked It

Last Saturday's audition is in the process of turning into my first paid (well, profit-share) performance. I apparently redeemed myself after my initial disatrous presentation of Shylock's speech and impressed Ms Marianna Vogt (for 'tis she the producer / director) with my Oliver and Corin. As the result of which I have been offered, and I have accepted, two small parts in Ms V's upcoming production of As You Like It. I initially demurred at the role of Charles the Wrestler, on the grounds that my bones are too old to be thrown to the ground each night, but Ms V assured me that no real wrestling was involved. And if I survive the play's first act, I am resurrected in the final scene to be Jaques de Boys. This Jaques, who is not to be confused with Melancholy Jaques, an important denizen of the Forest of Arden, gets to make one stirring speech. Let's hope I don't make a hash of it...

Francis Hayman, "The Wrestling Scene from 'As You Like It'."
Oil on canvas, 1740-1750. The Tate Gallery, London

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Incited in the letter

Buoyed by my As You Like It audition on Saturday (and by the very enjoyable night out that followed), I strolled into the Actors' Centre on Sunday morning full of confidence that I would render fellow-students and tutor Jonathan Broadbent speechless with admiration for my Malvolio during that day's Shakespeare class.

Jonathan is a pleasing young fellow, with thick glasses and the habit of nervously fingering his shirt buttons (thankfully not undoing them) while talking. He is, of course, knowledgeable about Shakespeare (although I had reservations about the meaning he gave to one or two of the Bard's lines) and an excellent coach. Like all born teachers, he encouraged and was never critical, despite one or performances that would have had lesser men saying "Darling, I know you've put your heart and soul into this piece, but let me say now that you will never master Shakespeare and I doubt you will ever reach the standard of third Essex girl from the left in the Queen Vic, so you should just leave now." No matter how inadequate the performance, each time he responded sympathetically and helped the player make adjustments that moved them up a notch or two or on the acting scale.

One speech impressed me and two had real potential. Sheena, who had already demonstrated real talent the day before, presented a headstrong Phebe who came alive under Jonathan's direction. Peter offered a believable downcast post-battle Richard II, but, despite J's encouragement, seemed unable to move from self-pitying to philosophical mode. And Katerina, our diminutive Brazilian, not only fought through her accent to reveal a believable Cleopatra, but, again thanks to Jonathan, lifted it up from uncertain schoolgirl to imperious queen.

As for my own performance... As Olivia's steward (a role I'd chosen because I have an audition for that character coming up) I'd selected a piece which, according to Jonathan, is either dropped or reduced in most productions. It comes at the point where Olivia has just seen the extent of her servant's supposed madness and has instructed others to take him away. Malvolio responds with self-justification that is reasonable from his perspective, but which provides ample evidence of his unbalanced mind to those who are unaware that Sir Toby and others are playing a trick on him.

Oh, ho! do you come near me now? no worse man than Sir Toby to look to me? This concurs directly with the letter; she sends him on purpose, that I may appear stubborn to him, for she incites me to that in the letter . . .
to . . . Well, Jove, not I, is the doer of this, and he is to be thanked.

I played it, as I thought, in the manner of one sane justifying his actions, but it came across - JB said - as one who is in fact crazy. I should tone it down. I tried to do so. Next point: what does "limed her" mean? Trapping her like a bird. "Jove make me thankful": is that statement really sincere? And so on. Each comment and question from Jonathan both knocked away at my confidence and opened a door into a meaning I had not considered. By the time I gave my fifth and final rendition of the piece I knew that I understood it much better, but I had no idea whether my performance had improved or deteriorated.

This, of course, is acting. Actually no, it's life, or my life. Ever since my schooldays I have underestimated each task ahead of me. Because I am reasonably intelligent, knowledgeable and competent at many things, I assume that I can do anything well, without much study or dedication. In any sphere - business, love, acting, whatever - I have only to turn up, do my best and everything will fall into place. And of course most times in my life I have been wrong.

So here I am, four months through my one-year plan to launch an acting career. Like a hill-walker cresting a peak, I see not one more hill before me, but half a dozen more, and behind them almost certainly even higher mountains that I have to climb. Well, there's no going back, and even if I never reach my goal, the journey is fascinating. As for the next peak... assuming I don't lose myself as I did on Saturday, the audition for Malvolio on Friday may go better than it otherwise would have done.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Did She Like It?

On Saturday afternoon I left the first day of the acting course early to audition for a role in an upcoming production of As You Like It. Prepare a Shakespeare speech, the advance information said, from any play. Afterwards we'll ask you to read some parts with other actors. So I revised my Shylock, the "Signor Antonio, many a time on the Rialto" speech that had wowed fellow-students, the director and myself on my last course and prepared to give it. What happened? Faced with the steely eyes of the casting director, the speech vanished from my memory, as most of the emotion and meaning that went with it.

I suppose I was suffering from Stage Fright or Nerves. My primary emotion was confusion, as in a dream when one wanders into a situation that one is totally unprepared for. Should I apologise? Ask for a break? No, I told myself; The Show Must Go On, so I stumbled through the piece, aware that I was missing lines and that there was more recitation than reality in my performance. The CD made no comment, but handed me some lines and asked me to read Oliver to another candidate's Orlando. I went out, met him and started to rehearse. Then I was given another set of lines: could I read Corin to an actress's Touchstone. I wasn't flattered - I was the only other male around - but I was pleased that I was getting another opportunity to show what I could do.

Back in again to strut the part of the evil elder brother. I felt good about it. Put the scripts away, the CD said, confront each other physically and wordlessly as brothers. I felt awkward; Orlando was a foot smaller than me, but we glared at each other and paced the stage in hostility. Was that enough to satisfy her? It didn't satisfy me. Thanked and sent out again. Called back in again. This time as Corin, the shepherd. Could I do it in a Scottish accent?  Yes, and it seemed to me I read that piece even better than the last. Something in my reading struck the CD. Would I read one of the speeches directly to her? I did. Did she like it? I have no idea.

I don't expect to get the part. But I enjoyed the experience and I learnt two valuable lessons: that my mind can unexpectedly lose its focus and that an audition can require the kind of improvisation that I have only begun to take on board. I came home in a state of tension, but it is the tension I have come to associate with acting and which makes me even more convinced that this is what I want to do.

Soaping Up

Day One of the Introduction to Acting Course at the Actors' Centre. A motley crew of three men and nine women. One of the men appears older than me; the third is in an archetypal musclebound hunk in his late twenties who probably turns on more gay men than straight women. None of the women appear over thirty-five; five are foreign (two Russian; Polish; Mexican; Brazilian); there are several models, including Lloyd the Hunk and the Polish woman who can only be seen sideways if you squint. The foreign accents range from impenetrable to unnoticeable - plus the Liverpudlian whose accent is so thick and quick that even we natives cannot always follow her.

We gather in the basement of the Actors Centre with tutor John Melainey, who teaches us more about acting in a day than I learnt in a week at the Poor School. Alone, in pairs and as a group, we go through a series of clearly-explained exercises that first connect us to Status and Emotion and then enable us to develop short scenes out of nothing at all. We learn what moves a scene forward and what deflates it, how to give information and how to respond to it and generally how to hold and build the audience's attention.

It is soon obvious that two of the women have real talent and two of the foreigners are severely hampered by lack of English; the others and the men, may develop in time. It also soon obvious that - despite the fact that tomorrow's class is to be given over to Shakespeare - this course teaches only one subject in depth: Soap.

It is not just that the scripts we will work from later in the course are from East Enders and Hollyoaks, but in today's class every suggestion for action, plot or character, from tutor John or fellow students, involves a soap cliché. So we have long-lost Dad meeting daughter at bus-stop, two women accusing each other of stealing their boyfriend and so on; there's crime and hysteria and blame in abundance. And of course, we're hooked; with every revelation we want to know more.

Nadine, our Liverpudlian, is perfect for these roles, screeching out accusations left, right and centre with never a pause for breath. Two or three of the others are not bad, and I wonder how much their acting is based on East Enders and how much is a reflection of their own lives. I even find myself getting into it; after being called up short in a scene where no-one recognised my character's repressed anger, I let it all hang out and berated my daughter - whom I accused of living with a young criminal, thief and possibly murderer - in quiet reasonable tones reminiscent of Phil Mitchell. By the next scene, where wife Shona and I were berating each other for losing an important Document (no, we never discovered what the Document was about), we were both in Full On Mode, circling each other in frustration and anger, I was fully enjoying myself and annoyed that I had to leave early for an audition. About which I will write in my next post... 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Too many balls

I got back to London on Wednesday and spent Thursday catching up on 80+ emails and all the other minor activities that are part of returning to normal life. To my surprise, scattered among the spam and updates on my bookselling business were several relating to my infant acting career.

First up was the bumph for the Actors' Centre. I start their monthly course in Covent Garden tomorrow, complete with old Hollyoaks and East Enders scripts. I can see myself in the role of Adam Morgan, but I suspect that my acting skills are not up to persuading others that I am indeed the handsome young lifeguard who is irresistible to women, and I certainly don't look like any of the hunks in the calendar. As for the East Enders excerpt, I am disappointed to see that Dot Cotton is not an option...

In addition to the course, there were three - count 'em, three! - invitations to audition, two for Shakespeare (As You Like It and Twelfth Night) and one for an educational video in what appears to be hip-hop style, encouraging young people to read. And guess what, two of the auditions clash with the acting course. I'm taking time out to attend one of them, but, because filming also conflicts with the course, I've sent in my apologies.

Trying to juggle too many options, I'm bound to drop one. I'm disappointed, because I like the idea of appearing in something cool and modern (assuming I got through the audition), but I'm also chuffed to know that I am considered by some very different people to have potential.