Actors… I know most of you out there might have never met one “in flesh”. In fact most people go through life convinced actors are only the people they see on TV, at the cinema and occasionally on stage. Actors populate the parallel world of fiction and you don’t expect to find them on the underground, at the supermarket, or on the bus…
But you’re wrong…
Especially in MY world, it feels like Earth is populated mainly and sometimes solely by actors. Ok, perhaps not Earth, but for sure London feels that way.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t go out when people with normal jobs leave home, I tend to travel on public transport at times when office people, teachers, nurses and such industrious human beings are at work. Result, I bump into people who are outside those categories. And actors are the first in the list.
Take today, for instance.
Joan, my teacher, is Sophie Okonedo’s mother and she starts talking about her daughter latest movie shot in L.A. Lucky her. One of the guys in the class makes a comment about who her agent is, from which I imply he’s also an actor. Two women join in the conversation, actresses too. Ok ok, it’s a Pilates class at 9.30, I’m not going to get bank managers in the class at this time, but there potentially lots of people in leafy Crouch End who don’t work full time: stay home mothers, part time teachers, students, free lance people of different sorts… But no, the class is populated mainly by actors.
Supermarket. I buy a few things and place myself in the queue to pay. The phone of the guy in front of me goes off: “yes, at what time is the casting?” he asks. “what do I need to wear?”
In the afternoon I have a job in town so I get the bus to Archway, I have a script in my hands that I’m trying to practice for an audition next week. A middle aged man sits next to me and after 20 seconds says:
“What’s your audition for?” I look at him suspiciously – Londoners don’t talk to strangers, they could notoriously be thieves, robbers, psychopath or Al Quaida terrorist.
“Short film,” I reply, my eyes fixed on the piece of paper.
“I recognized the layout,” the guy goes on. “Only scripts are formatted that way. I’m a playwright and actor myself.”
I reach Archway and leave the bus.
Northern Line. I sit opposite a young girl with black hair and a big red bag. After 3 seconds she extracts from the bag something that untrained eyes could just consider a normal pocket diary, but I immediately recognize it as an Equity pocket diary.
Every actor in the UK receives a pocket diary from Equity at the start of the year and we all carry it with us like the bible.
I go for my recording, finish, then decide to walk into a cafe to get a quick espresso. Two men sit at a table. They’re discussing a play, a script in their hands. Ok, it’s the West End, theatreland, so it’s not too strange.
I go for the second job of the day, which takes place, ha ha, at the Actors Centre, where I teach.
The Actors Centre is a place where 100% of the population is actors. Bizarre! You sit in the green room and next to you two people will be discussing in perfect RP Mister Rochester’s horses, whilst at the table on the corner another two will be shouting at each other pretending to have a street fight, not to mention the man at the back of the room practicing a tap routine. All perfectly normal for us, but for non actors the place would look like that mental hospital in “One flew over the cokoo nest”.
I take the tube back home. At Warren street a woman gets on and sits near me. She’s scribbling something on a piece of paper. I’m bored, I don’t have a book, so I end up peeking. Her note says: print CV and headshots for Spotlight.
I’m beginning to think I live in a parallel world where actors have taken over the Universe…
Imagine that… Nobody who would have a clue what the stock exchange is or what Excel is for. Humanity would be extinct in no time…
But maybe not… After all, actors are the most resourceful people I know. I know actors who in order to survive have learned to do the most diverse jobs, from builder/decorator, to nurse, to plumber, to driver, to cooks, to IT expert. Nothing puts them off. After all, you can always use it for a role….
Give an actor an address, no matter how remote, and they will reach it without a GPS, just with an old fashioned map, finding also the cheapest way to get there to.
Actors can live on a budget like no others, share accomodations, travel, clothes… Actors can usually cook because it’s cheaper than eating out, they can fix clothes, saw, build…
In fact perhaps everyone should be compulsory forced to be an actor for a while. So people would stop thinking we’re these useless bunch of good for nothing who go to the gym in the morning and realize we’re more hard working than most office workers who spend a third of their day on Facebook…
But maybe it’s a bad idea… Let the world think that we’re all celebrities doing nothing all day and jetting across the world on a private plane to shoot the next Hollywood blockbuster… Why ruining illusions?
We’ll go on scribbling down appointments on the Tube, practising script on the 134 to Archway and doing Pilates in the gym, in incognito and anonymous, like sleeping cells ready to jump into action…
BEWARE! WE’RE ALL AROUND YOU…..