Saturday was the first time in weeks that I didn’t have to get up early and head off to Rehearsals for a theatre production. With a few exceptions like Christmas or the odd weekend or a summer break, I have been getting up early each and nearly every Saturday morning for the past couple of years to head off to rehearsals. Nothing wrong in it that, only unlike many who can rise at the crack of dawn, do everything and then head off down to Oxford Street before 10am, I am woefully out of practice in that respect. In truth (and rehearsals and work aside,), I just don’t have any incentive to get up and rush around on a Saturday morning as if I have a life that needs to be lived, as if I am running out of time because I am getting older.
Well even though I have being amongst the ranks of the middle-aged for the past several years, I really am not in the position to buy-into or subscribe to that middle-aged crap. I have become a little too Bohemian for that, not necessarily by choice but due to financial constraints and uncertainty on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-to-to-day, week-by-week, month-to-month basis. This has the effect on a man that now he cannot sleep at night, cannot relax, is incapable of having any sense of certainty as he lives a life of uncertainty (even if he shows the contrary outwardly). Need I go on? Jesus, I am up passed 3am and I am writing this. I just can’t sleep!
Saturdays for the past decade (rehearsals or work aside,) have been days where instead going out and having a life of sorts (can’t afford to,) I tend to sleep in, sleep late, while the rest of the world passes me by. Not good but this is and where I have been for years.
Sure I would like to go out, ‘shop ‘til I drop’, visit friends, meet and hangout in Covent Garden or some other part of London (Hampstead, Highgate, Wembley,) as I used to. There have been many a Saturday in years passed, where I was overly entertained by someone who actually cared to do so but that was the past and this is Now.
The big difference between Then and Now is back Then I was living a different life, a different existence, doing Nine-to-Five or in between jobs as a Supporting Artiste (badly paid and as infrequent as the work was,) I at least had some kind of existence. These days I am a fully-fledged, professional actor, plying (and at times attempting to ply my trade,) in a very and increasingly competitive arena. There are no swords and sandals but I do feel at times as if I have gone a few rounds with Maximus Meridius, Spartacus, a few lions and tigers thrown in for good measure. Not sure what keeps me going. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Period! There are no unemployment payments or anything else coming my way. If I work it is almost as if I don’t get paid. By the time I am paid, I don’t see the money. It is gone. Gone in debts and even worse, swallowed up by excessive bank charges, as my bank account goes overdrawn while I am waiting months to get paid. This I have mentioned in previous entries. It is not as if these jobs are paying thousands. Most of the time it is a couple of hundred or less but my agent(s) seem to have a hard job getting the money from employers. It is almost as if Acting has been relegated to a part-time amateur existence (unless one is firmly established and well-known that is). It is almost as if hard work and plying one’s trade and craft accounts for nothing. It is all about ‘The Look’ and/or what drama school you went to. And if I am told it isn’t, then my response would be: “Well it bloody well feels like it!!!”
Having done a ‘Proper Job’ before and during my time as an actor, I am only too well aware that while you are working Nine-to-Five, you are not acting. You may still attend auditions and castings, which come up but you know they won’t come to anything because you are focussed on your day job, rather than the actual day job which should be acting. Why would it be any other way? But if (as I was up until a couple of years ago,) you are temping and going from job to job, you are still dealing with a level of uncertainty but (double-dip recessions aside,) there is a chance (depending on one’s skill set,) that one may be able to keep their head above water. If you are fortunate enough to land a temping job which is a long-term or a long-term ongoing contract and, it is a good hourly rate, then you are safe for a time. Would you want to give up that level of uncertainty for a greater level of uncertainty? For the five years I was temping, I hardly did any acting between the years 2006 and 2010 – In fact after Easter 2010, when my last long-term temping contract ended, I actually did more acting than I had done in the previous decade combined. That year, I did a major film, an educational interactive video, a commercial and a number of theatre productions. This coincided with a change of agent by the way. This past year I have done plenty of theatre and a few other productions outside of that – In fact since that last temping job, the past couple of years has seen me do a fair amount of work as I have been totally focussed on acting and photographic work. The only problem here is there has been very little or no money in any this. One has to go back to 2010 when I earned £1000 for a day’s work on a commercial. This is probably not a unique situation but I have been paying my dues for so long now, working my ass off, building up a list of credits and networking this fact extensively, that I wonder whether the message is getting through. Which is why I have spent my entire Saturday evening, updating and restructuring my LinkedIn Profiles, as I discovered, there was so much information I had not included in those Profiles. I had focussed much more on My Official Website as the first port of call and one-stop-shop. But how many people are aware of that Website? Despite my promoting it in the past year since I created it. One thing I have learned over the past few years through my time in Theatre, is that no matter how many people you tell via Facebook and other media (and even those you know personally,) that you are appearing in a stage play, very few will turn out to support you, let alone see you. Despite blanket promotion on my part, I have had on average less than five people I know actually turn up to see me over the years. It does tell me what people actually think of me and what I do. It is not nice but there you go. It is what it is. For those who wonder why I don’t bother with them, well, now you know the reason why. But I digress.
I, like many other actors, have had problems with LinkedIn and wondered how as professional actors we can make the most of this less than actor-friendly social media tool. I think I am getting what it is all about as I filled in the gaps on my commercial background and history as a performer. Both profiles are now in far better shape, with far more detailed information and background history than there was before. The Screenwriter William Goldman on the subject of Film once said ‘No One Knows Anything’. Does anyone really know whether their efforts will be eventually pay off? I wonder at times how much I actually know about the ‘Business of Being an Actor’. I really do. And whether it will ever pay off. I seem to be doing everything right – Have been told down the years I am doing everything I can and doing it right. However I still wonder how much I actually know. I seem to be missing a trick somewhere.
The fight goes on as does the sleepless nights and the inability to relax. At least for now. Strange as it sounds, I love what I do, I really do. I know I can be a success and achieve great things by doing good creative work. That is why the fight to succeed against all the odds will continue.