I’ve come to the end of our run, looked around, and realised that of the roughly eleventy-billion industry professionals I invited to see me in Macbeth, precisely none actually came. True, they might have watched the first half and made a run for it in the interval, like escaping an unattractive blind date before they spot you (no of course I haven’t). However, much more likely is the possibility that every agency I wrote to already has a freckly, slightly ginger, middle class girl with drama school training and a slightly off-centre nose on their books, and that every casting director I wrote to could source one of these girls from the agencies with the ease of having a small burp after lunch, and that every director I wrote to was too busy sending out their own emails inviting people to come and see their own play to think about attending mine.
So the question occurred to me, why did I bother? Sure, lots of friends came, and lots of friends of friends came, and that mother and son came all the way from Devon to see the show because the son was doing Macbeth at school (now THAT’S parenting), but what does it matter if none of these people can get me an audition for Peter Capaldi’s assistant on Dr. Who? Don’t worry, this incredibly self-important notion only lingered in my mind for around a millisecond before all the reasons why I bothered rushed into my head gave it a good smack in the ear. Ow.
I had spent six weeks memorising and speaking Shakespearean verse and being challenged with making it mean something to me and to an audience, reinforcing a very specific and important skillset. As the project was collaborative I had had the chance to direct other actors, which I had never done before and which I may never do again, as I feel the same way about directing my own play as I would about singlehandedly organising an international cake-eating competition at which I must referee and not eat cake. Also, this particular project really tickled my Shakesbone because it wasn’t just another rehashing in Elizabethan dress but a truly inventive interpretation that forced us and audiences to look at the text in a new way (see my previous blog post for more banging on about that). I worked with lovely, funny, interesting people who reminded me that I wasn’t alone in this stupid, scary industry. I now know 14 more people who might think of me when someone they know is looking for a freckly, ginger actress with a slightly skew-whiff nose. I have a solid credit on my CV and some great quotations from reviews to add smugly to the end of professional emails. And finally, many of my clothes now smell of golden syrup. This probably won’t help my career but it’s just another bonus.
All of this aside, several of my fellow cast members did manage to persuade people to come along, so one or two industry professionals may in fact have been around to see me falling in the forest. Unless they shut their eyes whenever they saw me, which, I have found, is another excellent solution for a bad blind date.