Sorry if it’s raining today guys. I think that was me. Last night was the last performance of the show I’ve been in for the past ten weeks, and I’m all bereft. My fellow cast members have all said that while they enjoyed our run they’re looking forward to going on to something new. I, however, am feeling a bit like that last girl left at a party, still dancing about and minesweeping half-drunk glasses of red wine with bits of Dorito floating in them at 6am, trying not to notice that everyone else has gone home. The kind of girl who ignores the fact that the host has passive-aggressively put on her pyjamas and keeps talking about her busy day tomorrow, while surreptitiously doing all she can to make the place as inhospitable as possible. Like that sad, drunk girl, I have had such a brilliant time doing the show that I just don’t want it to end.
However, the real reason why I don’t want to down that last metaphorical backwashy mouthful of someone else’s vodka and orange and stumble home is not just that I’ve been having such a blast at this rhetorical party. It’s actually because all I have to go back home to is an empty house with no TV, computer, books or furniture, and a strange, grim-looking man in one corner who glares contemptuously at me as I drag myself in with things drawn on my forehead and someone else’s coat on.
This house is my state of mind. The strange man in the corner who judges me is my own sense of self-worth. I’m right back at Square One, What-Are-You-Doing-With-Your-Life Street, Little Hope, Bargain Huntshire. I’ve known that this day was coming since I began the whole process weeks ago, but had convinced myself that I’d find work to go on to in the meantime. Despite several auditions, I haven’t.
One of the toughest things about being an actor (the actor’s favourite subject) is that your career depends entirely upon what you can come up with, and if you stop, it stops. Most nine-to-fivers turn up to work and are told what to do. Unlike a lot of people, I LOVE being told what to do because it means I don’t have to create everything myself, which is an unfortunate flaw in my otherwise enchanting character. So some actors thrive on this and embrace the imagination it requires – “Ooh, I could write to this director because we have this connection”; “Maybe I should put on a one-man show about Joseph Goebbels”; “What if I painted myself pink and posted myself in a giant cake to the agent’s office? I know she likes meringue…” – but it can often feel like an uphill struggle with no handy footholds.
So what I need is a nice big to-do list that marks out a path up the hill. I like making lists because things on a list sort of look like steps and I have heard that steps are things that make walking uphill easier. Obvious things like checking for new casting breakdowns every day go on the list, but also things like doing a really good vocal warm-up every morning and getting singing lessons. Anything that makes me feel like I’m working towards being better in the next audition. Once I have this, I find it difficult not to get going on it. I have spent most (OK, all) of today on the sofa, eating prawn crackers out of a bag and cackling at the TV, which is an important stage of post-show recovery, but I’m already getting a bit itchy and am actually looking forward to getting back into the swing tomorrow. Acting is sort of addictive because you never know when a phonecall or an email will take you from cackling sofa gremlin to gainfully employed ‘real actor’. I just hope I can get rid of this red wine and vodka hangover first.
This is the first in a new series of blogs which Briony will write about her life as a young actor – both in and out of work.