Back in the days, before Timeline on Facebook, people worshipped gods. They were divine creatures we couldn’t touch. This is how we see actors today: god-figures, creatures from another world. I used to look at Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman and think “These people must have supernatural DNA, they can’t possibly be human”. Now I know they are just as normal as me.
Getting into the theatre industry is hard work. It’s like a constant Olympics, but the race never ends. You are always running. The pit-stops are short and if you take a break or slow down you know that someone else is going to overtake you. I’m only at the start line and already out of breath.
When we go to the theatre we get absorbed by the actors, the story, the set. It looks so organic. Like children playing around for a couple of hours. When Mark Rylance runs around the stage and creates two hours of pure magic in Jerusalem, it seems so easy. But what we don’t see is the weeks of solid, hard work that is so intense that you sometimes want to cry and eat your own arm out of frustration.
I am currently rehearsing a play and it’s hard to see the magic for the sweat, the headache and sore thighs. When a director goes over a scene a billion times just to change the sound of one line you don’t want anything but a bucket full of ice for your face. Or when a fellow actor hasn’t done his work and slows down a whole scene – or sometimes the whole play – another job suddenly doesn’t sound too bad. And then there’s the auditions which seem like spam emails – never-ending and always with bad timing. But then you get the part and you are reminded why you love it so much and are willing to live off ryvita and pasta till you are 40.
When you are just starting out it is hard to grasp how it really is. You don’t know about the weeks of 10-hour rehearsals, the movement workshops that would send any sports instructor in a muscular coma, and the endless nos you get – you are not right for the part, your hair is wrong, wrong accent, wrong, wrong, wrong.
But not knowing where you are going to be when you wake up, what your next project is, on which stage you are going to step onto next is also the beauty of it. It is a love-hate relationship, and I wouldn’t stop even if the finish line is miles away.
Before I went into acting I had a poster of Orlando Bloom on my teenage door. I would go to bed and blow him a kiss and think that this man was an Adonis. Not human. Now I know he was just another working guy who would sit and cry about taxes, attending more auditions than there are people on earth and have morning breath, just like me.
Camilla is a budding actress and writer from Denmark trying to make sense of the British theatre world.
Image credit: Andy Roberts.