A Week in the Life of a Thespian

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The above words have been resonating through my mind as I reflect and dare I say it, procrastinate over the events of the past week and the near total effort and energy I expended in the preparation of two auditions for jobs I eventually was never cast in.

I would not say that I am an overly laidback kind of person but I somehow manage to maintain a calm, easygoing stance and frame of mind when things begin to get difficult (especially of the financial kind,) and somehow I manage not to panic.  However, that old program of desperation was beginning to reassert itself and one could hardly be blamed for allowing such a program to kick in.  After all this is the Summer of One’s Discontent.  This is where everything, work, money, peace of mind and one’s equilibrium is thrown about in an avalanche of chaos.  At this time of the year when others are planning to go on holiday and enjoy themselves, I am dealing with all of the above each and every summer.  It is almost like one’s very own personal Twilight of the Gods, one’s very own Ragnarok.  Each and every summer for the past several years, everything goes to hell.  Autumn, Winter and Spring used to be hellish periods but for the past couple of years this has not been the case.  Only Summer never fails to bring an air of destitution, a sense of poverty, strife and all of the other things one has mentioned above.

Oddly enough the past month had indicated that this Summer was going to be so different.  This year I will have finally managed to break the endless cycle of no work, no money, and no prospect of any kind throughout the summer period.  I have a new agent, one who is constantly working on my behalf.  Since they have been representing me, I have managed to be cast in three projects, two I have already worked on, one I have been paid for, the other I am awaiting payment for, and the third job a film role where filming has been put back until late August.

So, on the basis of the above, things look rosy.  There seems to be more interest in me as an actor, as I am getting asked to attend more auditions and castings than I have over the past couple of years – In fact one has to go back as far as 2007 which when I was forever attending auditions.  It should be noted that I never landed any of those jobs I auditioned for.  I tell a lie!  There was a family commercial and a theatre project, jobs I had pretty much in the bag (damn sure of it,) only for the casting director (for the commercial,) to cancel everything.  As for the theatre project, I was more or less told I was what they were looking for but never heard another word!  Doing better in 2010 than I was in 2007. At least I am landing the jobs – Well some of them anyway!

I guess last Monday was an indication that the forthcoming week did not fare well for me.  I had spent the weekend working on audition pieces as well as preparing for the forthcoming auditions on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.  My regular Monday morning gym session didn’t go so well.  I was so lacking in energy, drive and enthusiasm, that it was short-lived affair.  I left early and didn’t go back for the rest of the week.  Nothing else in my life was achieved, no writing, no research, nothing!  All I had on my mind was these two auditions. Not to mention losing out on a Yahoo commercial which would have paid thirty grand in US Dollars into my sparse bank account.  Unfortunately some luck bastard instead of my good self got an all expenses paid trip to Prague as well as a handsome fee to mime to some crap Motley Crue song.  Hell, for thirty grand and trip to Prague, I would rap let alone mime to the Sex Pistols’ version of ‘God Save The Queen’!!!

Despite all the effort, energy expended, on reflection it was a total act of folly on my part.  I wanted these jobs and I probably wanted them too much!  Wednesday I had a pleasant meeting with the producer and director for a Christmas project.  My role would be as the Father in a family Christmas scene.  A non-speaking part, three days of filming, two-hundred quid per day (not to be sniffed at,) I was raring to go.  Filming would be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.  By Friday evening last, I was informed they would not be casting me.  One could say I should be grateful to even be informed at all that I had not landed the job and how true!

Thursday afternoon after a great deal of preparation, I endured (a surprisingly pleasant,) two-bus journey down to Brockley Jack Theatre in South-East London to audition for a Play.  The subject matter was Gay and involved three gay men.  Hey, I am Actor, I don’t choose my work (at least not yet anyway,) and didn’t have a problem with the subject matter.  The only problem was I was reading for a role where the character was younger than I was.  Could I play the character?  Of course I could and would have but for some reason saw myself playing the more aggressive character of the three.  More because he was within my age range.  Anyway, I went and did my reading and performance and left feeling I had probably wasted my time.  The bus journey back didn’t help, especially when you get on bus that takes you on a long and less that scenic route through Peckham (aka Little Lagos,) and every other pit of iniquity in South-East London.  Not the best of journeys back but it did give me time to really ask myself more than a few searching questions as to why things are or seem to be going wrong at this stage. Should I even be worried?  The production at Brockley Jack Theatre was a Profit-Share one so the chances are I probably would have ended up working for nothing. Guess there is no need to worry.  Being desperate and needy again when I have no need to be.

I would be lying to myself and my readers if I said I wasn’t worried.  Since getting past a particular stressful and hurtful situation over a few months ago, I had been moving forward and making headway on a personal and professional level and now it seems as if in the course of a couple of weeks (last week in particular,) I am backsliding and everything is coming apart at the seams and heading back into that depressing, mental and emotional ‘Skid Row’ of an existence that seems to manifest itself each summer.  I ask myself: ‘Are things really that desperate?” The answer is no.  While things may be difficult, they are certainly not desperate.  And yet, I think and feel the reason, the main reason I did not get cast in either of those projects despite my obvious experience was I probably came across as desperate and needy.  Of course I am desperate for work, I need to be doing something, and yes, I am desperate and needy to be making a living, making money – more so as an Actor, doing something I like and love.  I am however wondering if in being desperate and in need of the above, am I doing myself a disservice and an injustice in unwittingly appearing to show the above and letting prospective employers know I am free and available and have nothing to do, when in fact I have writing projects to pursue, research to begin, plots to flesh out an develop, not to mention keeping body, mind, soul and health in check. Yes, I am busy but available if the project and the price is right.

I remember a few American expressions I have heard in recent years:-

‘It’s the Economy Stupid’

‘Everyone needs Money, that’s why they call it money’ (David Mamet) and…

’Greed is good’ (Gordon Gecko).

Speaking of Mr. Gecko, get this immortal piece of commentary from the movie, ‘Wall Street’ (1987):-

“The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it. You’ve got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I’ve still got a lot to teach you.”

And when I am reminded of those immortal words, I realise in the scheme of things, the bigger game that we call ‘Life’, I have nothing to worry about compared to others.  I know where I want to be and what road I wish to be on.  So when I open my eyes each morning, I get up and continue working towards those goals.