Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Are you taping this?

Gordon Brown, the English Prime Minister and current candidate for Labour in the forthcoming election had a really unfortunate microphone mishap - some might say meltdown - today... he forgot he was wearing his microphone and a private conversation was recorded by the media as his car drove away, in which he called a pensioner he had just spoken to "a bigoted woman". He also described his encounter (masterminded by a certain "Sue" - one of his campaign advisors) with the pensioner as "a total disaster" and that was BEFORE the recording was made public.

This is of course a rather hilarious case of Schadenfreude... but also a very publicly mortifying incident for a man who is a not a natural when it comes to social interactions. Unusually for a politician, he's just not very good with people. (He was never elected but took over after Tony Blair his predecessor resigned).His advisors were trying to make him "more human" by showing him interacting with the public. His advisors should have kept on top of the microphone...

The thing is,  most actors can relate to this. When you're on set, you're often miked up for the whole day. And theses little buggers are so light and unintrusive - it's very easy to forget that you're wearing one. The first thing you are taught at Drama School about shoots is REMEMBER YOUR MICROPHONE. As in: make sure it's turned off before you go to the loo... or make sure it's turned off before you bad mouth the director, or the DOP (that's the person in charge of the camera... they can make your performance look fantastic or really crap...) or your fellow cast members. Even then, incidents still happen. Everyone gets to hear your bowel movement or your hilarious impression of the director or your true feelings about the rest of the cast and the production as a whole.

The other thing that actors know but don't always put in practice is to play their action - not their obstacle. In other words, identify your objective and stay positive in your attempts to reach that objective (playing your action) rather than seeing things in a negative light (the obstacle). Gordon should have been playing his action: "that went rather well, I think I'm getting used to this meeting real people, I don't like it very much but I'm really getting better at it" rather than his obstacle "that was a complete disaster." and the ensuing lashing out to make himself feel better "she was a bigoted woman".

The sad irony is that by all accounts, his encounter with Gillian Duffy (the afore mentioned pensioner) had gone swimmingly well and should have been a really positive story for the evening news. Instead, we have been regaled with pictures of Gordon with his head in his hands looking mortified, and with the knowledge that he spent over half an hour back at Mrs Duffy's house apologising to her and the press dubbing this "Bigotgate" ahead of tomorrow's final primeministerial debate on the BBC alongside his Liberal Democrat and Conservative rivals who are counting their blessings.

Let's give Mrs Duffy the last word.... "I won't be voting for Labour".

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Move over Eve, it's all about Me!

I had my very first stage audition for a big play last Thursday, for a role of understudy. I love my agent! It was for a well known play, with an A list cast, in a big theatre in the West End (London's Broadway), for a proper 12 week run. The understudy role was to cover the two smallest female parts in the play and required a General American accent.

I had one and a half days to prepare for the audition...

I worked very hard... on character development, and my British accent still isn't completely back... but unfortunately, (whisper) I don't think that I got the gig.

Now. The Rule - as everyone will tell you - The Rule is that you prepare for the audition as best you can in the time you have, you do the audition as best you can, and then you forget all about it. If you hear back  - great! - it usually means you've got the part or at least a recall. If you don't hear back it usually means that you didn't get the part.

If you didn't get the part, everybody knows that you shouldn't take it to mean that you were bad or totally crap or just not as good as someone else because that is probably not the case. All manner of factors come into play when they make their choice: your size, colouring  and presence relative to the rest of the cast etc...

But the child in me thought:  it's an understudy role for the two smallest parts, and requires an American accent (to be judged by a British director/producer) so how many people could possibly be up for the part? Me and one other? That's a 50% chance of getting it! Me and two others? That's still 33.33% chance!

I don't know how many people they auditioned. Maybe 100. I thought I did ok (even though I started walking out half way through the audition because there was a lull and I thought I heard them say "we'll call you" but actually I'd misheard the assistant director's Welsh (I think) accent...) but the play opens in late May and surely they should be getting back to people soon?

I auditioned with the assistant producer and assistant director, both really nice and very friendly and future heavy hitters (it really is a huge production). They will need to run all their choices past the producer and the director and they were auditioning understudies for all the parts on Thursday, so maybe it's taking them a while to process things. And I've got a hunch that the smallest of the understudy parts was not at the top of their list. Or maybe (and this has just occurred to me) some key decision makers were stuck abroad because of the volcanic ash cloud and so the whole process has been delayed...

The truth is, I don't know. Anything. But with every day that goes by I'm more and more confident that I didn't get the gig.

Also, both parts are described by the playwright as "overweight/biggish women" and if that's what they were looking for, well that's just not me. Not even on a fat day. (Hey, there's always a silver lining!)

But let's not dwell on that (the not getting the part bit, not the part about not being overweight even on a fat day... I'm gonna dwell on that all day and use it as an excuse to have one of those delicious coconut macaroon from Apostrophe - or as I like to call it Apostrophee.)

The good news is that I'm going to be in a play in July at the White Bear in Kennington (South London). It's the UK premiere of Desire, a play by Josep Maria Benet I Jornet (an award winning Catalunian playwright who is about to receive a lifetime achievement award from his country- he's like Lorca, but alive) and it's a good meaty part and you can read all about it on my website:

So onwards and upwards. It's not over until the fat girl sings!!