Archives for posts with tag: Out of Work Actor

I’ve recently been a major culprit of using every excuse in the book to justify why I didn’t get a job/didn’t hear back from an audition. I’ve also sat and listened to many people doing just the same. We’re awful for it. I think it must be how actors flex their creative imaginations whilst ‘resting’. The things we come up with, I tell ya. It’s laughable. Well, at least, I laugh at myself whilst verbalising these stupid, unnecessary, reasons. So, I’m going to quote a film that I think might have some relevant references…

“Why do we say this stuff to eachother? Is it possible it’s because we’re scared and it’s too hard to say the one obvious truth that’s staring everyone in the face…

“[insert generic creative/casting director’s name here]’s just not that into you!”

It was whilst driving through Cairo (I know, casual. Ridout’s pensive time has gone international) that the famous “he/she hasn’t called me yet but…” scenario came up in conversation. So, being the dramatic person that I am, I declared: “THERE NEEDS TO BE A STAGEY VERSION OF HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU!” because I seemingly can’t keep on topic in a conversation – it has to relate back to theatre.

So…here we are. Ridout’s going to try and equate relationship advice to the theatre industry.

The first scenario (as addressed in the film too) is when you leave an audition/date and instantly get on the phone to your friend to tell them how well it went. You’ll inevitably pump yourself up with enthusiasm and, hopefully, get some validation from your friend meanwhile the casting director/date is calling in the next person/calling someone he’d rather see. Ooosh.

From this scenario you just have to take that it’s not necessarily how you performed (in the audition/on the date) but rather that you might not be quite what they’re looking for and they happen to have someone else in mind that is. It might feel personal, but it really isn’t. You have to remind yourself of that and take each audition/date with a pinch of salt.

What follows is the horrendous wait for a call. Whilst waiting to hear from jobs/prospective dates we become slaves to our phones. I’ve got the T-shirt for putting my life at risk, bolting it out of the shower to answer my phone, for a false alarm (it was Joshua Tonks…we spoke about Ru Pauls Drag Race). We’re constantly checking them and when we find nothing there we start coming up with excuses for a delay.”I think Vodafone is having problems with its signal today”, “My voicemail is full and I don’t think missed calls are showing. Bloody iPhones”, “They’re running off to see the Oklahoma tour in Dublin actually so I don’t think I’ll hear until late tomorrow…” We even find out we haven’t got the job/recall through the stagey grapevine or, worst of all, on Twitter.

Gigi: “You have to just go around checking all these different portals to get rejected by 7 different technologies. It’s exhausting!”

Ain’t that the truth! It’s a lesson I’m only just getting to grips with (the above shower incident was only a month ago). I’m regularly checking my phone as if, by some miracle, in the past 10 seconds someone’s called me and I missed it (despite my phone always being on loud). STOP. Put the phone down. Have a cup of tea. Sing a showtune. Just move away from the phone and if it rings, great. Just don’t sit around driving yourself crazy over it.

It’s admittedly a bastard, what with all this “I don’t know how long I’m supposed to wait before giving up” malarkey. At least with dating you have the option of taking the dive of humility and calling them yourself. But in our industry, this is when you start listening to other peoples “wait time” situations and assuming it’ll be the same for you.

I, for instance, waited 6 weeks to find out whether or not I had a recall for The Sound of Music. SIX. Then on the day of my recall they called me 2 hours later with my offer. TWO. That throws a confusing “wait time” spanner in the works. Plus, it just so happens that this example ended in a positive outcome. More recently, I was on hold for a job for over 4 weeks. I was constantly using the above as a justification and a benchmark for how long I’d be kept waiting. “I waited 6 weeks to hear from Sound of Music and then I got it!” so when these 4 weeks resulted in a no it was a right old smack in the face. A smack in the face I’d set myself up for.

He’s Just Not That Into You Example:

Janine: “Let me tell you, after I went out with Ben for the first time he didn’t call me for 11 days and now he’s like the worlds best husband”

SPOILER ALERT: Ben cheats on Janine with Scarlett Johansson’s character.

Just because something happened once doesn’t mean it will happen again and it certainly won’t always end the way you want it to.

We have to stop listening to stories of “I knew someone whose partner was cheating on them but now they live happily ever after” or “I know someone who was rejected for a show but 6 months later got the part because…”, “I mean, it could happen right?” NO. STOP THIS. If you’re always looking for comparisons to draw on in order to fool yourself then you’re only increasing the height from which you may eventually fall. Save yourself the added distance and don’t listen to hearsay (unverified knowledge, feel free to listen to the band). Take each new experience as just that…new! Don’t let anyone cloud you with opinions on what it “could be like” because you’ll unquestionably be in entirely different circumstances to anything that might have happened to them – or that friend of a friend of a friend.

I’ll refer you now to, perhaps, the most famous part of the film (or book I should say, it was a book first people):

Gigi: “But maybe he did call and I didn’t get the message or maybe he lost my number or is out of town or got hit by a cab or his Grandma died…

Alex: “Maybe he didn’t call because he has no interest in seeing you again…”

Gigi: “But what if I’m the exception?

Alex: “No you’re not, you’re not at all. In fact, you’re the rule”

In this over-saturated, competitive industry of ours it should be obvious that we are the rule. However, there’s something intrinsic in all of us that makes us want to believe otherwise. In dating and theatre alike we thrive on the drama of it all.

Alex: “You take things and twist them into something else and it’s INSANE!”

It is insane. But I’m with Gigi on this one…

Gigi: I may dissect each little thing and put myself out there too much but at least that means I still care”

…and to that I say hell yeah! (Yes that rhymed, what of it?)

It’s true, we do it because we care. We do it because we want it. Badly. If we didn’t then what would be the point of it all?

My favourite scene in the film is when Janine flips out about her lying, cheating, douchebag of a husband and smashes a mirror on the floor. She then instantly leaves the room and promptly returns with a dustpan to start cleaning up. I think that’s the perfect metaphor for how to get by in this industry/the dating game/life in general. If you get hurt by someone or through not getting a job then allow yourself a freakout (although I’d advise a mope and some Ben & Jerrys rather than smashing a mirror) but then quickly start to pick up the pieces and begin moving forward.

It’s important to stay passionate about what we do but I think it’s equally important to be able to stay at a safe distance from the end result so that the clean up remains achievable. If we get in too deep it’ll be harder to bounce back and if you wallow for too long you might be letting an opportunity pass you by.

Don’t let auditions cloud your mind after you’ve left the room, don’t let the possibility of the phone ringing dictate your existence and don’t listen to hearsay. Trust your own journey and remember why you’re on it in the first place. MUSICAL THEATRE, I’M SO INTO YOU.

There are more lessons to be learnt from He’s Just Not That Into You – Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck have a rocky old road to marriage and Drew Barrymore realises that MySpace is not the way to find true love (*cough* Tinder *cough*). However, I think you’ve got the idea (and these ones seemed relevant to my theatrically inclined mind). So I’ll leave you now with the closing, poignant, voice-over of the film – just with a couple of stagey additions:

“Maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over – freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just moving on. Or maybe the happy is ending it this…

Knowing that through all the demoralising dance calls, endless auditions, sirening in public, temping in a call centre and waiting weeks for the phone to ring…

…you never gave up hope.”

Happy auditioning/dating!

Plus,10 points if you know what musical lyric Lottie (my wonderful Gal-entine) used on my punny Valentines card:

Ignore the blinking and see if you recognise the stagey lyric in the Ridout pun...

“NO! I THINK I BLINKED”

“You just never know, in a moment he might walk through that door. And he’d stop my heart from sinking and my head from over-thinking. That’s what we do it for. That’s why we do it, why we put our poor selves through it. That’s what we do it for!”

– Rebecca Ridout

The fortnightly blog post was clearly a lie. I apologise. I do hope you’re okay with it and that we can move forward together despite my apparent lack of timekeeping skills. However, surely it’s better to write more frequently than it is to write less? I guess only time (and my friends who are on quality control) will tell. This week’s post is just a little ‘Food for Thought’. It’s an opportunity for me to let off some theatre themed steam and I’m hoping that in reading it you’ll discover a shared experience. It’s hopefully a pat on the back if you’re a graduate and a forewarning if you’re a student (remembering forewarned is forearmed). Here we go then…

Since graduating I’ve found it very hard to answer even the simplest of questions. “What are you up to at the moment?” “What’s new with you?” “How’s everything going?” There are endless word combinations that all culminate in the same scenario of me stumbling over my words, trying to justify my existence, and resenting the questioner. Now, how I expect to have a conversation with someone and this question not come up I do not know. I do know, however, that I didn’t have this problem two months ago. It is obviously the curse of an out of work actor. We all know there is no shame in not having a job (“That’s showbiz, kid”) but you still want to be able to paint a picture of the glamorous life you are living – even when, as in my case, you only have waitressing, theatre trips and a blog to show for yourself.

As soon as you choose this career path you (or at least I do) constantly justify yourself to those who “don’t get it” – the friends and family who aren’t in the business. It is undeniably easier to say: “I’ve got a part in _______, I start next week” than it is to explain the ups and downs, ins and outs and confusing reality of auditions. This is something I expect to have to explain/justify to family and friends though. I’ve been doing it ever since I first applied for drama school so I don’t get phased when they ask what I am up to – it’s like the answer is on tap. Why though am I struggling to tell people who are in the industry and consequently “get” my situation?

I’ve always instinctively asked graduate friends what they’re up to. It’s not to be nosey, it’s not to find out what they’re being seen for, it’s not to rub salt in any rejection wounds and it’s not to remind them that they still have post show blues (*COUGH*). It’s because all you’re hoping for is for them to turn around and tell you that they have a part in the aforementioned _______, and that you can gleefully hug it out. I had, until I became the out of work actor on the receiving end, always seen it as a caring question filled with hope of a positive response. I’ll admit that I sometimes got the defeated look with the “just auditioning, you know” response but I had never considered that the person could have been worn down by having had that conversation multiple times that day. Now that I am that person I can safely say (having seen many people I needed to catch up with recently at a theatrical event) that it is hard to come up with a multitude of positive replies!

What is the solution then? Not asking that question is near impossible. You want to ask in case the answer is a cause for celebration, you want to ask because you care but you don’t want to ask because you don’t want to be a reminder of their lack of opportunity. I genuinely don’t think there is a solution. Pointless blog post, you ask? I certainly hope not. I hope it provoked some thoughts in you, please let me know (@beccaridout) if you share any of these feelings on the asking or responding end. I know writing this has been like therapy for me! It means that next time I am asked I will know to control my death stare and will no doubt chuckle away to myself before launching into: “Well, it’s funny you should ask that because…”

Additionally, tonight I am off to see half of my year group for a mini reunion and to see ‘When Midnight Strikes’ at the Gatehouse Theatre. That will mean a minimum of 25 times being asked a combination of the above questions. Bring it on. I may not have an acting job currently but I’m spending time with people I love, seeing what I love. ‘When Midnight Strikes’ is written by LSMT’s own Head of Music – the man, the legend, Charles Miller (not forgetting his lyricist partner Kevin Hammonds). I know, even before I get there, that I am going to love this production with LSMT at its heart, actor friends in the cast (who, guess what, still had the same reply as me to the above questions in early August) and a top notch creative team. I cannot wait! Also, as I am typing this, the sun is currently shining in London town after days of miserable weather. It must be my happy thoughts. Remember: when in doubt, Ridout will sort you out. Or, if that fails…ask Mary Poppins (we are practically the same person after all). Happy question and answering!

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My new mantra before answering.

In regards to having a positive spin for every seemingly negative answer:

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way”

– Rebecca Ridout