So you're an actor?
It’s quite a common question people ask me, a look of confusion or delight upon their face. My answer is of course yes. Maybe not the most successful one, but yes I certainly am - I've been paid to do it afterall. This often leads to further conversation, which most of the time is quite delightful. Sometimes though it leads onto another question – “what have you been in then?”. Funny how plumbers never get asked “what pipes have you sorted then”, though this could easily lead to a very odd conversation. I answer with a list of shows I’ve been in, particularly pantomime – I do like a bit of pantomime. The reaction to this is normally one of disappointment, expecting me to say something exciting like I asked for a pint in the background of the Queen Vic, or that my left ear can be seen next to an 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe in Philosopher’s Stone. Worst yet is the other question that sometimes gets asked – “go on do some acting for me.” I don’t suppose plumbers get asked – “go on fix my pipes”, though again this could very quickly go on a very odd detour. I dread to imagine what sort of questions people ask if I say I’m a writer. I'm not sure I could write out a 75,000 word story on the spot - especially without my editors!
I guess the acting side of me emerged from the same place as my writing – my imagination. I liked to create worlds, ones that I could act out and exist within whilst on the playground. Certainly I must have looked a bit odd pretending to fight insect monstrosities or being a robot butler to everyone else in my year who were happy playing football instead. Eventually this all led somewhere. Teachers seemed to be rather impressed with my skills at speaking aloud in class – I had both the diction and the volume, and this ultimately led to my very first show at the age of 9.
And here I am. With a lampshade on my head and a pillow under my costume this is me as Potiphar in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. I look adorable, especially with my thick black moustache. I was quite proud of it all, especially as I was only one of two kids in my year group chosen to play a named character in the show, the other of course being Mrs Potipher.
This lampshade led to slippery slope of acting, theatre, speaking loudly, and silly outfits. I went to Pump House Children’s and Youth Theatre where I had a wonderful time. There I did a variety of interesting things from Thenardier in Les Miserables to Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. I even got chosen to do some filming for an educational show called Knowledge Box. I don’t know where it ended up but I ended up interviewing Michael Rosen. Only now do I realise what an awesome poet and human being he is.
Eventually after completing university and many many fruitless attempts I went to drama school and onto some wonderful acting work. I’m not the busiest of actors but along the way I have met loads of wonderful people and done some rather interesting things. I’ve done A Midsummers Night’s Dream 4 times, ran away from dinosaurs, been a polar bear in a tweed suit, pretended to be asleep in horrific rainfall, had chocolate sauce poured down my face and spent a morning in a tent filming in Tonbridge Wells. It’s an odd career, though not the most reliable and often not the best for my mental health either. People do find it very interesting, and I always have lots of stories to tell. Most recently I have worked for a new company called Starcatcher Productions doing their pantomimes. They’re a wonderful group, and last Christmas we did Sleeping Beauty. An amazingly flattering picture of me can be found below:
This career often leads to other not so cheerful questions too, especially from my worried parents. "Have you considered doing something else?" I guess they worry so much because they are rather fond of me. Not everyone gets that in their life. The problem with acting is that even though it’s great fun when you’re doing a show or a scene, there’s a lot of time where you’re not doing anything at all but doubting yourself. That’s the painful part. Any sane, sensible person would do something else, with reliable income, pension, and job security. However for me it has always been part of who I am. Though I can seem very confident a lot of time I can be a very shy person, often awkward meeting new people or a bit anxious starting new things. When I’m on stage performing it is amazing, but when I come off it I am an over thinker, and I will spend time over analysing not only my performance but general day to day interactions. Feeling the spotlight and feeling the applause is great yes, but so is creating something live and temporal with the people there in attendance. It’s thrilling, brilliant, and also quite sad, its existence is fleeting but so very special. To be able to create, whatever it is, is tremendous. An activity and sensation I delight in, and something that most people don’t normally do that often. And that’s why I have ended up writing too, alongside my acting. It just seems natural. So let’s see what questions I get asked when I say I’m a writer.
With that it’s bye for now. I’ll be back soon.
P.S if you’d like to preorder my book or be the proud owner of an Ebook version of it click the link below.