Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Moors Murderer

I got the part of Steve. Thank you, Seth (and James and Rochelle and Jas). Which means that you can see me at the Moors Theatre in sunny Crouch End, from 27th January to 5th February. Prepare for . . . dramatic pause and drum roll . . . "Murder, suicide, Kidnap, domestics, gambling, sour deals and more.When two bodies are found contorted on the streets it is a job for Inspector French and Sergeant Branford. It seems a cold cut case with the arrival of an old villain coming out of prison. But none on the streets know what walks beneath them. Each character holding secrets, each character involved. An action packed drama with many questions to be answered. A dark, dramatic and epic murder mystery."

Sunday, 25 November 2012

What a difference a stage makes...

Yesterday I wrote that I was losing my acting muscle. I was about to go to an audition and felt totally unprepared. I wasn't drowning in the depths of despair but I was shuffling through the shallows of .... fill in whatever synonym comes to mind of boredom, lack of interest, lack of confidence .... unshertainty. Then I took the 271 to Holloway Road and the 91 to Crouch End Broadway, walked up Park Road, into the bar / theatre and everything changed.

I had told myself to go in in character, so on with the mockney accent, the wide-eyed expression and the broad shoulders. A friendly conversation with writer / producers / directors / actohs Seth, James and Rochelle about the play-that-they-don't-want-to-tell-us-too-much-about-but-there's-a-strong-Tarantino-influence and then I was on stage giving my spiel to a dying woman. And I was in character. And there was laughter from the writer / director, followed immediately by the statement "I'm loving this characterisation" and all was well. I came to my final line "what's not to love?", bounced off the stage and down to adulation. Would I try another part? The mysterious Creator. Would I? Of course I would. Five minutes later...  that was great, now can you do it differently. Of course I can. Not perfect, but it's a sight reading and producer James loves it, he loves it.

So, forty minutes after I drag my feet in to the audition, I leave walking on air. I'm aware that S, J and R are going to see other actors who may be better than me or give a characterisation that is even closer to what they are looking for, but no matter. Even if I don't get the one of the parts - and I really hope I do because this play looks fun - I know my acting career is not in a coma; it's just dozing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Not using it, losing it

A while back I wrote that I was only occasionally updating this blog because I was so busy acting. Now I am writing that I am only occasionally updating this blog because I am so busy not acting...

Since the beginning of November I have had one (repeat one) audition. Eight days ago, as previously reported, at the Royal Festival Hall. I didn't get the part. Later today I have another audition (as a killer - what else? - in a profit share in a theatre in Crouch End). I don't think I'll get the part. After that, nothing.

Because I'm not using my acting muscle, I can feel it beginning to wither. I've been rehearsing my audition piece for the last week (the one that starts with the "Stupid Bitch", through the immortal "And then I shot her stone fucking cold dead. BANG." to end with the thoughtful, but sparsely, punctuated "And believe me this line of work pays well. So what's not to love?") and it's not working. I don't feel it. I'm acting, not being. The lines vanish from my mind no matter how often I repeat them. I'll go in there this afternoon and give it my best, but my best isn't nearly as good as it should be.

At the back of my mind I tell myself that if by some miracle I get the part - if all the others up for audition contract sudden and repeated attacks of vomiting that keeps them out of the running until I appear on that stage - it'll work out all right. Rehearsals will bring back my confidence and ability and on opening night I'll be a Star (at least whatever passes for a Star in Crouch End). So I'm not ruling myself out entirely. But I'm not expecting much.

Meanwhile, Agent Stephen has called to tell me my Equity membership application is on track and he has been putting me up for various roles. But on track is not arrival and putting up has not led to casting calls, so no progress there. As for the plans to produce the one-(wo)man plays, one theatre has turned us down; two others have placed us on hold and the rest aren't replying. Motionless there too

The good news is the rest of my life is busy. Late this afternoon an old friend from Rio de Janeiro is coming to stay for a few days, then he and I and the Other Half head up to Scotland for my birthday celebrations. I won't be back in London until early December, so don't be surprised if I don't post another entry until then...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Film Fam

So there I am at the Royal Festival Hall looking over the script of a short film. I'm auditioning for Gary, the drug baron. Run-of-the-mill, but I'm not really into it. It's another Londoner and I'm not going to shout out "you dozy cunt" in a Peckham accent while surrounded by the cultured crowd of the South Bank. I'll do what I can and meanwhile read the whole script so I can put my character in perspective. Simple story, young-men-on-council-estate-up-to-no-good. There's just one thing I don't understand; what's this word "fam" that crops up from time to time? It seems to serve the same function as "mate", "my man", "mucker", "pal", "bruv", but it ain't no word used down my manor.

I head home, have lunch, out to the Rosemary Branch Theatre to meet Cecilia Darker to discuss putting on the one-(wo)man plays I've written. The conversation goes well, once we get rid of the title Loss, which I've never been happy about, although I can't think of a better one. Back home again, working on the bookselling. Evening comes and the Other Half and I settle down to Attack the Block, which I recorded a couple of nights ago. It's run for barely a couple of minutes when there's that word again. Fam. What is this?

A minute's research on the internet tells me the word has been around for at least four years. And yes it means "friend", and yes it's derived from "family". I don't like it. It sounds stupid, reminding me too much of the French word "femme" and its connotations (at least from the 1960s) of effeminacy and lesbianism. But what annoys me most is the fact that the word has existed for some time and I am not aware of it. I call myself a writer, I graduated in Linguistics, I pride myself on the use of slang in my writing, but this very basic and apparently common in some social strata word has escaped. More confirmation that I'm getting old and out of touch. Depression time.

At least I appreciated Attack the Block. A nice little film with well-placed touches of humour, believable characterisation and realistic dialogue that will seriously challenge anyone that lives outside the M25. In-jokes, such as the reference to Wyndham Towers and its neighbours. Excellent acting by young non-actors, particularly the youngest, Sammy Williams and Michael Ajao. I'm a fam, sorry, fan. The flipside is that it is depressing to think that the violence and drugs in the film are reality for too many young people. Then I remember that life is depressing anyway and there's no point in losing sleep over it. Time for bed and a good book.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Stupid Bitch

Two auditions coming up. One for a short, unpaid (of course...) film, as a drug baron. Tomorrow at the Royal Festival Hall, which is not necessarily a good sign. It's the second time I've been called in there. The first was two or three months ago for a similar role. It's difficult to give a good performance when sitting at a café table with noise and bustle around you. I think I did quite well, but I didn't get the part. You can detect my lack of enthusiasm, but there's a reason why I'm going. I may now have several films under my belt, including three that are in post-production, but in only two of them do I have any lines, and my total word-count for both films is an amazing twelve words or fewer (including the memorable "Gawd lives in the sewers!" which remains one of the best lines I have ever spoken).

Audition two is in just over a week, for a profit-share theatre production. Gang leader (what else?). I've been sent the audition script - written by someone who is either dyslexic or an appalling speller and who either has no access to spellcheck facilities (computer? literate friend?) or who doesn't care about what s/he has written. The first two words - "Stupid bitch" - are spelt correctly, but when spelling and punctuation are so bad that they frequently distort or destroy meaning (such as using "there" for "they're" and failing to use commas and full stops to indicate ideas), you have to wonder at the playwright's overall ability. A play is about communication and you not only have to able to communicate your ideas to an audience (which this script may do - I've only seen one speech) but you have to communicate your words to your actors. If your script is so badly put together that the actors are not sure what you have written, then you're off to a bad start. If you have pride in your work and you know that your spelling is abysmal, or you're uncertain about it (and if you don't know the difference between "your" and "you're" then you know that you're in trouble, or you know what your trouble is...), then get someone to proofread what you've written before you send it out. Otherwise, you're giving the impression that you're not very good at your job.

Having redrafted the script so that it now makes sense, I'm learning my lines, starting with the "Stupid Bitch", through the immortal "And then I shot her stone fucking cold dead. BANG." to end with the thoughtful, but sparsely, punctuated "And believe me this line of work pays well. So what's not to love?" Let's hope they love me...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Finding Faith

Months ago I spent a l-o-o-o-n-g day in Clapham as an extra on a Paloma Faith music video - 30 Minute Love Affair. I got paid and then forgot about it until three days ago when an article on the singer in the New Yorker reminded me I had once said hello to her. So I went online, looked up YouTube and found this:

It's a pleasant number nostalgically shot in a nightclub where singer Paloma and the pianist eye each other across the gulf of late-night punters and high-kicking burlesque dancers. If you don't blink around the 1 minute 9 second mark, you can see yours truly with a wispy beard quaffing some drink. And if you're paying attention around the 2.14 and 2.22 marks you can see the rear of my round head punctuated by my sticking out ears.

My only quibble (apart from why doesn't the video feature more of me?! me?! me?!) is why does the video start and finish with Ms Faith entering and leaving a gay porn shop? (If you're a gay Londoner, you probably know exactly where in Soho the shop stands.) A minor point; the music draws you in, the images transport you into a dream world appropriate to the song. Watch and enjoy

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Those Who Can't Act...

The old adage goes: "those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, teach teachers..." How about those who can't act? "Can't" might mean without any talent or it might mean talented but prevented by circumstances from displaying that talent. Whatever . . .  My situation at present is that I can't act - either because I'm a hopeless actor and all potential casting directors are aware of that fact, or because the roles are not available and / or directors are unaware of my existence and my incredible ability to move audiences to tears, to laughter or to the exit.

But if I can't act, I can get involved in other ways. I'm currently trying to put on a production of Loss, an updated evening of the one-man plays (this time including one woman) at a fringe theatre somewhere in London next year. There are two major and several minor hurdles to overcome before this becomes reality - most importantly, raising funding of about £7,500 and finding a theatre to host the three-week run. Naively, I thought that several theatres would be happy to host such an event, until reality kicked in that they have not just an income but a reputation to maintain - and letting just anyone come in and put on a show isn't necessarily the best way of building and keeping a regular audience.

So, after several weeks of contacting theatre managers and the like, I am no further forward in my goal. It's true that one prime venue hasn't turned us down and another, slightly off the beaten track, is willing to talk, but  the hard reality is that an evening of one-(wo)man shows - especially under the title Loss isn't the most exciting of draws.

My job is to convince them - and not only them, but the general public, to support this event. We're planning to crowd-fund it - £10 will guarantee you a seat; £15 will guarantee you a seat and a glass of champagne; £20+ will guarantee you seat, champagne and a share of any profits. Not a bad bargain, we think, but you might need persuading. So, maybe we'll change the title, talk up the stories and the cast, promise you an evening of laughter and tears, to bring you, the curious punter, in. You never know, you might enjoy yourselves... More details anon.  

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Free Yoghurt

My commercials agent sent me an email and text message on Friday evening with an appointment for a Tesco commercial casting on Saturday lunchtime - place and time specified. The part? A grandfather. Well, I'm not the grandfatherly type, but the fact that someone had seen my mugshot and specifically asked for me was surely a good start. And when I turned up in Soho and discovered the casting was in the Giles Foreman studios, I told my rational self that this was fate not coincidence.

Well, not really. I found myself in another cattle call - a corridor full of people of various ages. The young woman handing out forms told me that we were being seen first come first served, which meant that it was an hour after my "appointment" that I finally walked in to the makeshift studio. (I wasn't the only potential actor / model / whatever duped in this way - around me were several other Victor Meldrews unimpressed by the system. I just sat and read the Aldous Huxley, Those Barren Leaves, that I had brought with me.) 

There were two youngsters. One had started shaving. The other - the director - looked as if he was still excited by the fact that his parents had let him come into town on his own. First impressions aside, they were friendly and helpful and if the fates are kind, they should, on those grounds alone, go far.

My task was simple - to come into shot, scoot an imaginary dog off an armchair, sit down, sprawl and eat a Christmas pudding while watching television. As an old man? I asked, prepared to dodder. No, said the Boy Director, they were casting for all kinds of family members. Fine. I prepared to play the role of dodgy uncle and looked forward to finding a silver threepenny piece in my piece of pud. But since this was a rehearsal and the pudding had better things to do, a yoghurt played the role of understudy. Similarly, in place of Her Madge on the screen was some kill-em game set in the usual anonymous urban wasteland, lit up every second or so by an exploding gunshot, bomb or pulverised body. I imagined myself watching an old Morecambe and Wise and reacted to the screen and pudding as I was told for about 90 seconds or more and that was that. 

Hands shaken, exit made. As I walked out, I told myself that the fact they had wanted me to stay for so long was a Good Sign, but who(m) was I kidding? By the time I hit the street again I was so hungry for my real lunch that I almost forgot where I had been. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Grim Faced

Opening my email two days ago I came across a couple of pictures taken by Nurhak Karayol on the set of O Sole Mio, a film I made in September, in which I played bodyguard Mike. I'm not sure how I come across in the film - it is still in post-production - but I was pleasantly surprised to see that through Nurhak's lens I look serious rather than my customary villainous. (Or what do you think from this portrait here?)

I put the pics up on my website and as I was doing so, I realised that almost every picture in the gallery shows me with the same grim expression, the only difference being the clothes I wear for each character. I'm not sure this is good news - it suggests that I have only one basic mode of acting - and honey chile, that just ain't the truth!

So, for variety, I've added one more picture to the gallery, which shows me with eyes and mouth gawping like a credulous frog. You never know, that might be the image that gets me the part in the West End play that gets me noticed by the casting director who recommends me to the Hollywood Giant who calls me in the middle of the night to offer me the role of Judi Dench in Shakespeare on Ice, the 3D Spectacular. But don't hold your breath; it won't happen soon.