Last Thursday, I attended an audition for a short film in Glasgow. As my car is currently off the road, the journey from my rural home was rather; let’s say, dramatic.
Our friendly farmer was visiting the Department of Agriculture in Hamilton, so I jumped in his pick up truck to get half way there and thought I would simply hop on a train in to Glasgow.
I arrived at the station, but was informed that all trains were cancelled due to a fatality. What now? As I learned that the bus would take an hour and a half to complete what would be 25 minutes in the car, I honestly contemplated cancelling. However; it was a lovely sunny day and I was able to message my potential delay to the lead actor, I sat on the bus and took regular deep breaths in order to keep calm as the bus meandered its way through every town and suburb.
I caught a cab reasonably quickly in Glasgow and arrived at the venue with 8 minutes to spare, which meant I could dash in to the loo beforehand #phew
I received a warm greeting and there was a really nice atmosphere in the audition room. The director explained the project and then we went for it. The lead actor was in the room as it was a ‘chemistry audition’ ~ literally to see what our chemistry was on film.
I already knew my lead actor and as he is a strong actor as well as a good all round guy, I have a great bond with him. We laughed and hugged and gave each other kisses because ‘we’re still happily intimate after all these years’.
It was a lovely audition and I left after 15 minutes feeling really happy. The trains were back on too, which shortened my journey and, even better, once I arrived in the village, a friend was just getting in to his car, so gave me a lift saving me from the final mile walk to my cottage.
As an actor, the people I tend to meet say one of two things. Either, ‘I’d like to be an actor’ or ‘How can you remember all those lines?’ Very few know the nitty gritty details of what life is like as an actor ~ and this is what struck me about it this morning.
I received an e-mail from the director, which began:
Thank you very much for attending last Thursday’s audition.
We were incredibly impressed with your performance...’
In my first year of training, I played Goody Putnam in the community cast of the National Theatre of Scotland and TAG Theatre’s co-production of The Crucible at the Universal Hall, Findhorn.
On the second night, professional cast member and all round brilliant actor Sally Reid, who was playing Mary Warren, became ill. The director called me in and announced that Sally was too ill to go on that night and I could either read in for her or they could cancel the show.
‘I would love to read in for her,’ I said and thus a hasty costume change was arranged as I highlighted the lines in my book that remains much prized in my bookcase to this day.
The professional cast and crew were so behind me that I felt wholly supported, which made the transitions from Goody Putnam to Mary Warren a lot easier. At the end of Act 3 once both characters are off, I lay backstage with an aura of energy that was 3-feet high all around me and repeated over and over, ‘Thank you God; thank you God.’ What a feeling!
I was given a fabulous standing ovation from the audience at the end and received several cards of congratulations from well wishers through my door over the coming days. What an honour.
I’m unsure whether it was because of that, but the following year I found myself in a Master class by the Casting Director for NTS. She explained how hard this business was and then stated that she honestly did not know why any of us did it.
‘How could you take so much rejection day after day?’ she asked.
I put my hand up and said, ‘But what if nothing else makes your soul sing?’
She agreed that was the issue and most of us vowed to continue training and auditioning, trusting that we would remain strong and inspired after each rejection and hope there would, at least, be some yeses.
Since graduating in 2009, there have indeed been some yeses and I have had an amazing time performing freelance and with various companies, be it in plays, musicals, film, DVD, Theatre in Education, community theatre or murder mysteries.
And yet, I hear the word ‘No’ a lot: all actors do. Sometimes they don’t even say no ~ you just don’t hear back. In fact, often you don’t hear back.
But here’s the thing: I think you become so used to hearing no that you almost get a shock when you hear a yes.
Considering I battled low self-esteem for years, it really is a ridiculous industry I have entered. Feeling bad about yourself? Have a no. Feeling ugly; plain; old? Have a no. Already feeling useless? Have a no for a job that you felt really perfect for!
So, as I read that e-mail this morning, I was already anticipating a no. I was already seeing ‘We were incredibly impressed with your performance, but...’
I felt my body tense slightly. I let out a light sigh. Only it said, ‘We were incredibly impressed with your performance...
‘...and would therefore be delighted to offer you the role of Frances.’
Yup; it’s definitely a silly industry I have gone into. But here’s the crux of the matter: nothing else makes my soul sing (as much), so when it is a yes; I’m walking on air. In fact, I’m utterly flying and all the no’s have been forgotten and I know inside that I’m amazing and I remind myself that it is all worth it.
It is a reminder for me to continue to believe in myself because I am being true to myself. Performing truly inspires and uplifts me. It is when I feel most alive and with that, I feel energised and enthused and at my happiest.
So, the worst days feel the worst, but for the days that are the best? What a total joy.