Sunday, 9 September 2012

This and That

As soon as the metaphorical curtain came down on my last performance at the Lord Stanley in July, my enthusiasm for acting began to wane - so much so that I was unperturbed by the idea that I might never appear in front of the camera or on stage again. The fact that nothing was coming through from my agent did not help. Nevertheless, I continued to go through the motions of monitoring Casting Call Pro and Spotlight and applying for parts, and on Friday I had two auditions. One, by telephone, was for a voiceover and the other in person for a short film; both, surprise, surprise, were unpaid. I didn't expect to get either part, but the fact that I enjoyed both experiences, combined with a reunion with several acting friends, was enough to revive my thespian ambition to the extent that it has recovered consciousness, although it is far from lively.

Picture from
To my surprise, I was offered the voiceover. It's an interesting role - 10 pages of script as a man accused of murdering his wife, which will play as part of an artist's installation later this year. The description had called for an Upper Class voice, which I offered first, later modifying it with a slight Central European accent, another specification. In the end, however, the artist, Myles Painter, decided he wanted my natural Scottish undertone, which makes it easier for me. I'm looking forward to the recording, which takes place this Wednesday, because it will stretch me and it is the first real voiceover I can put on my CV.

The second audition on Friday was also Interesting (a word which, my other half reminds me, I use too much). It was for one in a series of short films and before I met the director I had the impression that he was young and hoping to make a name for himself. In fact he was middle-aged and, it appeared, with considerable experience in both the UK and Hollywood. The part had called for a pompous theatre director, but when I acted pompous I was told to stop acting and be myself. In itself, that wasn't a problem. The evidence of this blog notwithstanding, in real life I am friendly, relaxed and very forgiving - and that appeared to come across in the second reading I gave. At that point, the slight frost between us melted and we chatted about this and that for a few minutes until I left. On my way back home, however, I was aware of two emotions: pleased to have got as far as the audition, but also annoyed at being placed on the back foot, when the preparation I had put into what I thought the role demanded was taken as a defect rather than a bonus.

My mood lifted even further today with an email from a director whom I had seen earlier in the year. A very good audition, I thought, for Lilies, as a hardened criminal in prison confronting a priest about a case of child abuse. He had remembered me and wondered if I was interested in a part in the large ensemble piece, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. In the natural course of events, I would have said yes, but the piece requires singing and there is no way, ever, that my voice can be made to sound musical, so regretfully I declined. But I like the man's choice of productions and if he remembers me again it may be third time lucky.

One other piece of (non-)news... The positive reception for my one-man plays at the Lord Stanley inspired me to think about a three-week season in 2013. I would produce, not act in, three plays - Los Feliz (diner talking about the last woman he fell in love with), Ben and Joe's (middle-aged man talking about events at a gay bar) and a new play, Sunset (grandmother talking about her life). Last week I started looking for fringe theatres to hire, specifically asking about cost and availability. The cost, I assumed, would be in the region of £1,000 a week, which would work out as £150 - £200 per performance. That in turn would allow some profit for marketing, props, rehearsal time and - gasp, gasp, even some money to pay the performers, assuming audiences of 50% or more.

Hah! Was I self-deluded? I was indeed. Not all the responses have come in, but with rates so far being quoted as £450 per night or £3,500 per week (and I'm not sure whether VAT is added onto that), the likelihood of covering costs, far less paying players, comes close to zero. I will continue to look for possible venues, but it looks as if that little plan may fall by the wayside. Unless there's an altruistic angel somewhere out there...?

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