As I was saying in my last post . . . What is the reward I get from acting and is it worth the effort I put into it?
At the back of my mind when I first went to drama school two years ago was the question: if I’m any good at this, will I make some money out of it? I knew that most actors spend their time not acting and very few earn a decent living from it. I wouldn't expect a five-figure income, but £5,000 a year would be a respectable amount to declare to the Inland Revenue.
Of course I haven’t made £5,000 in the last 15 months. I haven’t even made £1,000. Adding up all the rehearsals and performances, plus time at home learning lines, I reckon I spent the equivalent of 60 - 75 full-time days and earned about £600. Which works out at £8 - £10 a day. Which means, if future income reflects past performance, that there’s no prospect of my breaking the £5,000 barrier, far less £50,000, in the foreseeable future.
So I'm not making the moulah. Does that matter if the emotional reward from acting is the equivalent of gold? That depends on what the emotional reward is. Yes, it's nice when I get a good review or a member of the audience comes up unsolicited and tells me how good I was. But having reached the point in life where I accept who I am and don't care much what others think of me, I'm not in the acting game because I need a boost to my self-confidence.
How about exhibitionism? I may not want the world’s approval, but I do I want its attention? There’s probably more truth in that line of enquiry. I’m not primarily an exhibitionist and I don't spend my life calling out, metaphorically or literally, Look at me! Look at me! but when I have something to say that I consider important, then yes, I want you and your neighbour and the woman on the Clapham Omnibus and everyone else to pay attention and then to go away thinking “my goodness, he’s right; I never thought of it that way, but that Martin Foreman has certainly impressed me. I must change my viewpoint immediately”. Except I don’t need to appear on stage or screen to fulfil that particular need; I can continue to entertain and inform (or bore and annoy) people through the articles, stories and plays I write.
Which brings me back to the point that the primary emotional reward I get from appearing in front of an audience or on screen is enjoyment mixed with pride. And the conclusion I draw is that it is a fine balance between the days and weeks of tedium and irritation of preparation (line-learning, rehearsing, sitting while others rehearse) on the one hand and, on the other hand, the minutes and hours of enjoyment and pride that acting has given me.
So, will I continue to act? I have one more commitment - Clouds of Grey - in May, which I am very much looking forward to; after that, nothing. But as long as I have that production in my diary and Californian Lives to promote, I'm not even going to consider acting or voiceovers. Whether or not I audition again is a decision I have yet to make - and if Californian Lives at the King's Head makes me a fortune, then the decision may be made for me . . .