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.

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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

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.

Reflection of Fear – Re-blog posting

Today I was asked an interesting question which initially I found rather flattering, then a little difficult, then a downright challenge. “How do you find the confidence to openly write/say what is on your mind without fear of repercussions?” It’s not a particularly unusual question, rather one that is a struggle for many people, as […]

via Without fear is a Fallacy — Reflection of an Atheist

I’m in the play

Yeah. That’s right. I’ve been offered the role I was hoping for. So now I need to start reading the script.

Stay tuned for more updates and season dates. It’ll be a blast. 

Audition Follow up – Finding Range

Well, I am back from the audition, and I feel really good about it. I did the monologue from the play I did last year, with some minor adjustments for contextual reference, and I was able to draw out that deep emotional state I achieved in the show itself. I am convinced that the director and assistant were moved. They showed me what appeared to be genuine appreciation, which is nice.

So I am confident about the audition, but it is not all about me. If I was to be given a role, they have to match me to other possible performers for a good combination, and in this play, there are three key characters whom share a very close relationship. In most cases, it is but two, or an ensemble. The interaction of the three characters are pivotal to the success of the play itself, and it is a hard choice for the director.

So while I may have done a blistering audition, if I can’t be matched with other cast members, I may very well not get a role.

I will find out for certain with the week, as promised by the director.

Treading the risqué boards

auditionI am preping to get back on stage this weekend. Monday night I shall audition for Noël Coward’s Design For Living which is an interesting production. Rather risqué for it’s day, and some might say, even so today, it follows the peculiar life of a three way love affair. The interactions of the three main characters, while utterly deplorable in its day, are still conceptually challenging for modern audiences.

So I find it utterly refreshing that a local theatre company is prepared to put on such a production. This being the same company on that put on another controversial production I was in last year, Closer.

Both of these shows have come at an interesting time in my life where I have been reviewing who I am, and where I want to be. Closer tested my emotional acting to extremes. This play, if I manage to land a role, will test my ideas on relationships and how I perceive them.

I am hopeful, but from past experiences, I have no expectations. I shall update my progress successful or not.

Time for a little Humour

I’m not a big fan of these Facebook based “Copy&Paste” Status things, but a lot of people clearly are. I decided to do something a little different with one, and here is the result. I hope it makes you laugh. 1. Are you named after someone? I’m sure I was. There must have been babies […]

via Now for something different… — Reflection of an Atheist

Reflections 0f 2016

img_20160214_071750.jpgIf one was to look back through the events of 2016, you could be mistaken for thinking that not a lot of good came from the year. World political stupidity, war and conflict, natural disasters, airline disasters, mass killings in the states, religiously motivated murders and atrocities, retrograding equality efforts, and celebrity deaths. It’s been a rather, shall we say, interesting year, but not entirely without its lighter moments, but it definitely has a dark feel to it.

For me, it has been a challenging year. I have taken on some challenging roles including the last play I did, and directing for a festival at the beginning of the year. Juggling fatherly duties, gently preparing for a divorce, maintaining a full-time job which has lost much of its appeal, weekly trivia night hosting, editing various video productions (Short film, wedding video, show reels), and keeping my toes in creative work (films, live-role-play training, etc). Looking at that, it seems a busy and productive year.

I’ve also been learning, and mostly about myself. Learning the difference between those opinions encouraged by society, and those that I personally have. My inner voice has become louder through the years, and now I hear it more than others. I have questioned concepts that I have blindly accepted for years, and researched where I felt knowledge was lacking. This is the year I have made a few personal decisions.

notreligionOne of the biggest realisations is where I stand on religion, which is to say I don’t stand with religion. Anywhere. (If you want to read more about that, I have another dedicated blog page going.) I have also changed my opinions on relationships, marriage, vulgarism, and myself in general. I write more about this on that blog I mentioned above.

If one was a believer in numerology, than 2016 equates to 9, which is a number of endings. The end of a cycle, laying the foundation for a new one, and curiously it does quite feel like that, in both good and bad ways. Personally I feel like I am about to step into my true self and venture into roads previously only dreamed of. Socially, I see that the landscape is about to become more challenging. Why, you may ask…

freedomspeechIt seems to me, at least, that we are entering the age of closed-mindedness. The age where people have decided to claim the right to be ignorant, to be obstinate, to be self-righteous. Where people demand to have their voice heard in the name of freedom of speech, yet deny others that same right to counter their claims. Where what one believes is more important than what the evidence suggests. Where science is a fountain of lies and mythology the keeper of truth.

Just as I am coming to understand myself, and to question the world around me, eager to learn more than I did before, the world (at large) seems as eager to do just the opposite, to ignore the dangers that may be ahead and to relive the days of aggression, paranoia, pre-judgement, intellectual ignorance, and witch hunts. Where opinions are made before facts are considered. Where emotion weighs heavier than reason.

I’m out of sync with the world, and in a good way I think. It might put me in conflict with it… I’ll take that risk.

Taking on a new me?

Back in high school, I had begun to envision myself as a stand-up-comedian. I was watching the likes of Billy Connelly, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, and so many more, and just thought it looked like a lot of fun. Thing is, I was still very much in an awkward phase and the very thought of being evaluated on my humour scared the hair off my skin.

15-naveedEven after I started doing theatre, and gained some confidence in playing characters, the love/fear fantasy of stand-up continued to thwart itself, like the proverbial snake eating its own tail. I still have a few teeth marks around here somewhere. It is different to theatre where you play a character, vs being yourself trying to be funny. Who would get my humour? Am I really that funny? You know, the type of fear that secretes glue from your feet pinning you in place, then reduces the skin around your eyes and mouth leaving you looking like a startled owl saying “who?”

trivia-night-photoQuite by accident, I found a smooth pathway to finding my glue-less footing and feeling a little more like “I can do this.” For nearly two years now, I have been hosting Trivia nights for local pubs, and ended up doing a regular gig at a conveniently local tavern. I started off cautiously, but aware that I was basically a source of entertainment for the players. It was a little rough at first as I inadvertently put a few noses out of joint. Noses that were used to the smell of the previous trout, and weren’t too sure what to make of this new fish. I wasn’t too sure what to make of them either…

It took a little while to work into a groove so to speak, and develop a style that I was comfortable with. Curiously, it was a style that previously I wouldn’t have even considered; sassy, confident, and a little offensive. Having been well known for being well spoken, I found that the more cutting and slang I was, the more people seemed to enjoy it. So I obliged bit by bit over time.

On thing that did throw me off for a while was the hecklers. I really did not have a lot of experience with that. In theatre, you rarely if ever have a heckler, yet I always admired actors who could work with the Audience.

jon-english1John English immediately comes to mind. I went to see a Pirates of Penzance show with him in it, and unfortunately I was late. Having front and centre seats made for an interesting entrance. John stopped the production and from to front of stage, and watched me as I made my way from the back of the auditorium, across the front row, to my seat. Once I was seated, he asked me if they could continue, to which I replied with a quick. “Yes please. Thanks for waiting.” That got a laugh. John did one of his famous ‘double-takes’, gave me a hard look, evoking even more amusement, and I just smiled back up at him. After a second, I waved my hand saying “Carry on.”

He then made sure to cast a few one liners at me for the rest of the night, to which I enthusiastically riposted, much to the glee of those around me. I then had a great chat with the man after the show, and he told me about the numerous other experiences he has had with late comers. I remember him saying with was refreshing to have someone push back instead of getting all embarrassed.

It’s a memory that remains so very strong. I have had a few opportunities to emulate his example, but Trivia nights have been a real experience and experiment. So I started watching comedians again, but not laugh at their jokes, but to see how they handled hecklers. Jimmy Carr became a core role model, who actually makes heckles part of the show.

I admit, that I have pinched and re-written a couple of his to suit my needs, to great effect. It has changed my approach to Trivia nights, to performances, and even to engaging with people on a day-to-day basis. The spread of effect this has had is rather marvellous, and people have even been pointing that I should consider stand-up…

I think 2017 may be the year I brave the solo limelight and unleash the spirited young comedian inside this aging ham.