Saturday, 22 June 2013

Learning Chinese in 90 days - days 7 and 8: L is for Lesbian

I received a slightly apologetic call from my lovely agent yesterday afternoon.

"I know you're busy with work but Mr. D (casting director for feature films) called up and specifically requested you for a project. D'you think you could free yourself up to go to the audition?"


Is the Pope Catholic?

I dutifully freed up my diary for Monday lunchtime.


Right on cue an email arrived from my agent (lovely and efficient), confirming the audition time and place and providing me with some details about the project as supplied by the casting director.

It read: Indie feature film. Profit share. (ie no pay upfront but we'll feed you and if we make any money you'll get a piece of it). Lesbian subject matter.

I'd rather it paid something upfront but other than that, I look forward to meeting up with Mr D. for the first time in 4 years.

I'll now throw in some insight into the inner paranoid workings of an actor's mind - free of charge:

I met Mr D straight out of drama school. I wasn't auditioning for him you understand, it was more of a meet and greet kind of thing. He was very kind and complimented me on my coat. Then I didn't hear from him again and I assumed he'd:

a) decided I was a an appalling actor (they can tell you know, even without an audition to go by)
b) forgotten about me (there's always the proverbial exception to confirm the rule)
c) black listed me (for some obscure, unknown and unspecified reason. I guess just because, you know, he could)
d) all of the above

But no! All this time, he'd had me sitting in the giant doll house of his mind, where (I imagine) he keeps his collection of actors.

I felt a rush of warmth and gratitude towards Mr D and looked forward to our lunch meeting. He'll be well impressed when I mention in passing that I'm learning to speak Mandarin and aiming to be conversational by mid September. I mean, I'll be impressed! I might even get the lesbian part without having to audition.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm not conversational yet, seeing that I have just completed lessons 7 and 8 of Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese part 1. So how is it going?

I'm still getting the 'OMG! I can't remember a thing' feeling at the end of each lesson so I have been making sure to run each session twice, in some cases preceded by a third run of the previous day's lesson for good measure. Only now I break it up: one hour in the morning, half an hour in the afternoon. That way I'm keeping up to speed but my brain doesn't explode.

Something else I've noticed is that I catch myself uttering words and phrases out loud in Mandarin - and sometimes I don't even understand what I'm saying. Sometimes it happens at night.

Do you think that's slightly freaky?  I'm more inclined to think I'm mimicking young children's behaviour when they start talking: Ma! Mah! Mamamamamamamama! Papa! Papa! Chicken! Cow pat poo! Bird pat poo! (These last two shamelessly borrowed from Aardman's Creature Comforts.)

Or in my case: where is the Beijing Restaurant? I want to eat now. I don't want to eat later. I want to eat lunch. And my favourite: I don't want to eat at your place... but I'd like to do some shopping. (That will come in really handy in the Chinese Soap when I get cast as the Western gold digger.)

There's also the faint possibility - it's only a vague impression for now - that this language programme is actually an alien's experiment in human behavioural brainwashing. Here's an example:

I'm being taught to say 'I would like to drink some tea, or some beer.' The thing is I like to drink water not beer. But I'm not being taught how to say 'water', and if they don't teach me how to say it before the end of the course, I may very well feel compelled to switch to drinking beer. D'you follow?

Like I said it's just the faintest outline of a possibility, for now. But let's keep an eye on it.

Until tomorrow...

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