When Actors Approach You

audition.jpgOn occasion, I have been approached by people I have never had anything to do with, who seem to think I may have a higher level of involvement then perhaps I actually do, or are possibly a little inexperienced in the way things actually work. The most common request I get from complete strangers who have an interest in acting is that I let them know of anything that might be appropriate for them to do.

“Please keep me in mind if anything comes you think I might be suited for.”

Ummm…. Right. I’m not sure exactly what one is meant to do with that, so if anyone asks me this question, I usually try to explain to them why this won’t really help them at all, such as I’m not involved in the casting of every show, nor am able to comment on their behalf when I don’t know who they are, etc… What usually happens is that they either completely miss my point and persist with their request, or they get a little trollish and become insulting.

Seriously?

To anyone reading this who may have done this, and possibly still not understand why this is odd, let me try to explain in detail.

  • I’m an Actor and must audition just like anyone else. I am not a casting consultant, or a casting agent. I do not have the representatives or directors of various theatrical productions/companies on speed dial. If I want to do a show, I must audition like everyone else, which means that I’m not in a position to recommend anyone for anything.
    “Hi. While I’m here auditioning for your show, I just wanted to let you know about this person who approached me out of the blue and said they are interested in doing theatre. Waddya think?”
  • If I’m directing, you will apply just like anyone else. I am someone who believes very strongly in fairness and transparency. This means that if I’m asking for people to audition, then that means everyone auditions. I appreciate it when other directors hold similar values, so why would I recommend someone else for a role in a show I may have nothing to do with?
    “Hey, I see you’re auditioning for a musical. There’s person I don’t really know too well asking me to put them up for show. Waddya think?”
  • I Don’t Know You. There have been occasions, after having been cast into a show, that the audition process was not able to fill all the roles. In those instances, sometimes that actors are asked to recommend anyone they know, who are then interviewed also. Now before I am going to recommend you to anyone, I can promise you one question that the director will be asking me; “Are they any good?” How am I to answer that question when I don’t know you? Answer: I can’t, so I won’t be recommending someone I don’t know.

I think point 3 is the most important. Even if I was in a position to make recommendations to casting directors, why would I suggest someone I can’t even comment on? I mean this is a reality check here. It’s simply not going to happen, and it’s not being nasty or self-righteous, it’s simple logic. If I am going to recommend anyone, I’m going to suggest someone I think can do the role, and it is not about looks in the slightest. It’s about talent.

And don’t take that as permission for you to submit show reels, or CVs, etc. Please refer to the first two points before you even contemplate this idea.

If you are interested in doing acting, at any level, then just like me you will need to put in the hard work to find the auditions on your own. I’ll happily point you in the direction of places in the internet where local auditions are posted, and I’ll even advise you on local theatre companies that may be most convenient to you, but it is your job to find the shows you want to do, you think you can do, and then apply, audition, and cross your fingers, just like me.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, if any actor was to try this approach with a professional casting consultant, and I mean in the manner I have outlined above, a simple query to keep an eye out for roles, I can promise you that you won’t even get the reply that I would give you. Most likely your request will end up in the electronic trashcan. Worst case, your name will be added to a watch list which may then be distributed to other consultancy services, which would then make it very difficult for you. Trust me this happens.

Becoming an actor is not a case of finding the right connections. That helps certainly, but no-one is going to work harder for you initially than you. Until you have a reason for others to be interested in you, no-one will be keeping an eye out for you.

The Coward Hole

Photo by Linda Hewell

This is probably not what you are expected based upon the title. I am talking about the hole left behind after playing Otto in Noel Coward’s Design for Living earlier this month. The hole left by Coward and his play.

It was an amazing experience. Possibly my most favourite production to have worked on to date, and for many various reasons, so let’s get the vain ones out of the way first…

It was one of, if not the best performance I have given on-stage so far. It wasn’t flawless, but there were many moments where I was able to save myself, and others, and keep the show moving. It was the joy of playing a character who pushed my personal boundaries further than they have been pushed before, and I enjoyed it immensely.

I also think I looked pretty damn good with my shorter than usual hair, and it has made me admit something that many others have been telling me for a long time; I look younger and better with shorter hair… bring on the hair-dresser.

Photo by Linda Hewell

Aside from the person satisfaction and ego boost, there was the sense of professionalism and talent with my co-stars. What an awesome bunch. Everyone took their roles seriously, even the smaller one-scene-only appearances, making for some wonderful moments of dialogue.

Then there was the extra effort required of the lead who basically was the back-bone of the whole show with her massive performance, including dramatic highs and lows, amorous moments with three different men, including me (that would have been a unique challenge I’m sure) and she made it so easy for me at least. What a delight to work with someone so incredibly talented and professional.

Photo by Linda Hewell

And then there was my co-star, playing the other male interest in the triangular love affair at the centre of the play. That he was willing to perform opposite me, a heterosexual male, feigning a loving affection, culminating in a crowd pleasing snog at the end is testament to his open mindedness and skill as an actor.

This production has left a lasting impression on me, stronger than I have ever felt before. I am extremely fortunate that the director spoke to me after a night of Closer, asking me to audition for this fine show. I admired Noel Coward before, but now, there is an artistic love affair brewing with the writings of this legend.

I am mentally preparing for the next role I hope to play…

Photo by Linda Hewell

Lost

article-2321088-19ac04bb000005dc-710_634x417Life, it goes in circles as I try to catch it. Its face is happy yet violently angry too. It temps me with a coyish beckoning and as I come close, it bites and screams pushing me away and the chase starts again.

Why do I chase such a two faced thing you ask. It is mystifying and unusual that I must know more, besides there’s a tendril that joins us. We are one and two.

Life is confusing, playing games with my mind. Just when I feel I have

control, it yanks the cord and lets me know exactly where I stand, which
I don’t, for I have fallen and then struggle to rise but life is off and rounding another corner.

Yet I wonder. Each time I have come that close, it’s been closer and closer. The aggression has been less and less. The pain has been softer.

Some may say that I am a sucker for punishment, but if I did not try, would I ever succeed? And if I fail once, does that mean I’m wrong?

So I’m a stubborn fool, but then I wouldn’t get anywhere if I wasn’t. I’ll
keep being tempted by life, and keep being thrown back ’cause one day she’ll give in.

Won’t she?

Written by Jeffrey Watkins 1995

List Me Four

I was clearly in a very strange place when writing this piece.

Walking down the steps to the ground floor, of my single level caravan, I folded my arms to greet the old day. I hurriedly pulled off my shoes that I had worn all my life and yanked the cat’s tail that tickled my nose. Once I placed my cap upon my shoulder, I then felt ready to venture out into the house.

The first thing that I found, was an old CD from an unreleased band. I placed it on the player (that also played vinyl by the way) and let it roll. It didn’t go all that far of course, due to the fact that anything that rolled gathered no stone, and anyone should know that no Stone means no ‘Start.me.up’.

I felt something hitting my leg and bent in an attempt to remove the Jones who had laid camp there over night as their present place of worship was being converted into a multi-single drive-way that basically led up the garden path. This movement made me quite dizzy so I stood up to gain my composition. While the world slowly steadied itself, I heard the distant sound of yelling near my ear. Overcome with a sudden desire to feel another’s face under my hand, I turned and saw a reflection of myself that smiled before running away.

I felt quite lonely as I watched myself disappear into the distance of the glass. All of a centimetre away and it was still to far. Too far a barrier for me to cross.

Ignoring the transparent image of the mirror, I decided to switch on the box which as usual did nothing. You see I have this box. I keep it in the comer of the room. It never really does anything, but I wanted one when I heard everyone else had them. Every now and then, I switch it on so as I too can ‘watch-the-box’. Yet I can’t see the great attraction.

As things always go, I quickly bore of ‘watching-the-box’ and ventured inside to see the world.

The sun shone brightly and my shadow flickered back and forth. This was because two very large African Bears were playing volley-ball with the sun. It was a very noisy game marked by loud bellows of pain each time one bear hit the sun.

Hmmmmm…… I think I went out the wrong door. I should really avoid the children’s fantasy during the funny season. It’s not really a very safe place. Yet I see the day drawing to a close. The coloured crayons themselves are near used, which can only mean that the colour is about to f de. Soon th d y w ll b n th ng b t bl ck.  n  by  n  th  c l rs f d , ‘t ll th  nly th ng l ft s ……………………………….

Written by Jeffrey Watkins 1995

Mine(d)

the_screamMultitudes of malingering mountain maggots!

My mind is in the fogs of haze, the pits of confusion striding bravely though walls of solid snow not knowing but caring where it goes. Wearing naked cloth upon his clothed brow to soak the beads of pearl that pour from around his eyes. I see the fires of resistance and yet he does not. He strides further on oblivious to them all.

And still I am here doing God knows what.

These feelings I have inside my chest are too powerful to ignore,
yet that is what I have done, I have thrown to the core,
And now they rush at me with all the speed and fury imaginable,
This time they will not be all that easy to handle.

My mind it rebels, puts its foot in the door.
The conflict puts pressure on my heart and more.
My mind, it fights within itself, two states.
They are no longer the closest of mates.

Oh my God the pain!
My head … it pounds. Throbs.
Words .. Hard to write … errors.
I can’t think!>>……

WHO WILL WIN

Written by Jeffrey Watkins 1995

I wrote some weird shit back in the nineties, and I didn’t need drugs?

Passing

Sim Warren | Men & Owls In The Forest

Sim Warren | Men & Owls In The Forest

Passing friends march together on different planes at different times. Their footsteps echo through murky fog that muffles and drags sound screaming through its own pomposity. They know each other well yet have not met and no matter how far they walk, they never will.

Passing friends march together to different beats on different drums. That one there, on the left-hand side. See the regimented stride and solid chin. The other prances boldly with a smile that infects, yet each footstep in time with the other.

Passing friends march together on different paths with different thoughts. They shout across the chasm that binds them together, and both agree that the other is mad and continue in their own way.

Passing friends march together, always in a mind of their own.

Written by Jeffrey Watkins 1995

Time

Lady Time by Brandon Dorman

Lady Time by Brandon Dorman

With time on my hands, I discover the uncovered country that had never been there all along. It drags me through sights that I had always forgotten and blew me back the breath I sighed. I have asked it to stop, but time it seems, is too short for rest. “I’ve never been able to reach that high.” It said and took off in a new direction.

Time, to me, is constantly changing into similar colours of life. I gaze into it as I am dragged unwilling through it’s never static worlds. It teases me and knows my desire for freedom and yet, at times, it sympathises knowing it can do nothing.

If I could, I would stop the chase of eternal tag and pause to hold the strange beauty of the still moment usually hidden in ugly movement. I may treasure these flashed seconds and for that, I thank time. It keeps me moving against my will and never lets me lose myself in instances.

If I stop, I would reappear gone. Found missing in the shallow depths of infinite times. Time is then my best and only friend. Concerned for my life, it keeps me moving, facing every new life-second till there be nothing left to drag.

This leaves me with only one question; What sex is time, and is it free tonight?

Written by Jeffrey Watkins 1995

Designed for Life

It has been a week already into the show. Three shows, with two more weeks left, and I my having the time of my life. I have loosened up as a person, and a performer, and it has affected me in such an incredible way.

Last year, Closer put me into some very confrontational situations such as domestic violence, physically intimate relationships, and somewhat exposed in-front of a live audience. Design has me playing a man with different sexual preferences than myself, yet with a similar outlook to relationships that has been slowly fermenting in my real-life mind, and the experience has been incredible.

Couple to that that the feedback I have been getting, both for myself and the play in general, has been some of the best I have heard, and the experience is simply unique and mind blowing.

When your agent tells you that “you made it look like the role was written for you”, well, that has to mean something right?

Sea of Hope

Cast adrift in a deep wide yonder
I bide my time with sing-song.
With too much time to wonder
‘Where has all my life gone?’

My futile paddling gains me little
But helps to occupy my hopeless sole.
The rain it falls like windswept spittle
While water currents take full control.

My boat,
Leaky.
With work,
I’ll stay
Afloat.

The sun
Has ne-
-ver set.

It stays
Up there
The whole
Day through.

I see no land and none sees me.
What could my destination be?

What I need is a bigger paddle.

Jeff Watkins 14/03/1999

Design for Living Rehearsals continue – Changes

We are into our rehearsals for Design for Living, and I am working like a dog to get my lines down as early as possible. So far I’m doing well, I think.

Sadly, as does often occur, one of our cast members has pulled out of the show. I’m not aware of the circumstances other than they are personal, so we were breaking in a new cast member on Monday night just gone. It’ll be interesting as I think we are both hetero (I at least know I am 🙂 ) playing bi men.

Oh! Did I mention that before? Well yeah, if you are not familiar with Noel Coward’s comedy about sexuality and relationships, then I’ll let you know it focuses around two bi-sexual men and their relationship with a certain lady. So now you know.

Oh, don’t worry. There’s nothing overt or gratuitous about the whole deal. In typical Noel Coward style, it is all very refined, restrained, and hilarious.

I’ve not before played a role that challenged my sexuality preferences, but I am intrigued to see how it pans out. So far, I am personally amazed at how easily I have taken it all.

This Thursday should be (hopefully) when we have all our cast together for the final act run through. Maybe I’ll take some pictures…

Tickets are on sale via the Old Mill website.

EDIT UPDATE: We are back to looking for a new Leo. Our replacement has also withdrawn… Putting out the call.