Thursday, 11 April 2013

It's not the Andes

I went to the gym as usual on Wednesday morning. Okay, it's not entirely usual in that some Wednesdays I'm busy doing something else, debilitated by MS fatigue or simply not in the mood. Wednesday morning is Neuro Group at Oxsrad. From 10 til 12, we work out gently and constructively. There is always a physio or physio assistant there. Some people come with their own carer / partner / companion / coach. We all support each other. Noone says "do more, work harder, faster, more weight".

I was quite pleased with myself yesterday. Not just because I went to the gym. I did my full routine - every exercise planned by my physio - no more, no less this time. Whilst taking a little rest between units, I chatted with a (now) friend who attends and often astounds with the level at which he exercises. Fast and high impact. He has slowed down a lot recently and says he is benefitting from taking things a bit steadier. I came up with this analogy -

Each unit of exercise/use of a machine is like climbing a mountain. It's not easy but we do it. And then we go on and tackle another mountain. However, we often need to have a rest in between mountains. This allows our bodies to process what we've just done. We may be in the middle of a major mountain range but we don't have to tackle it all in one go.

Coincidentally, today I googled the Andes and the page I clicked on - Andes - is headed with an advert for Serif's WebPlus. I have just created a brand new website for my professional persona as an actor. I've never done one before. Using a WebPlus package, it didn't take me too long to design the site but the hardest bit seemed to be publishing it. I have succeeded and will have the control to update my website whenever I want. It was a big learning mountain to climb and I am sure there will still be unseen rocky outcrops to navigate. But it's not the Andes and I don't have to tackle it all in one go. Good luck with whatever mountains you encounter and conquer today.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Never mind the weather

Whilst I was still a student (single hons Drama at University of Hull and the department is coming up to a 50th anniversary celebration... more of that another time)... where was I? Oh yes, whilst still a student, I started working with a touring theatre company. The first show I did with them was an outdoor piece. If I remember rightly (and, let's face it, that could be highly dubious) I played Morgana the witch but I can't remember anything about the piece. We might well have been performing in one of the fabulously named Yorkshire towns/villages such as Wetwang or Gilberdyke and we probably sang this in the van on the way to the gig:

"Here we are again, Happy as can be, All good friends and jolly good company.
Strolling 'round the town, Out upon a spree, All good friends and jolly good company.
Never mind the weather, never mind the rain, Now we're all together, whoop she goes again.
Lah-di-di-di-da, Lah-di-da-di-di.
All good 
friends and jolly good company."

It was a company favourite van song. Often launched into by the stage manager as we drove from gig to gig.  At the moment, amongst many deficiencies, the company I'm working for doesn't have a van. We don't even have a stage manager. The show is good - surprisingly funny, accessible and touching - but the woman who started the company and is acting in the play (it's a two-hander, so no prizes for guessing who is the other actor in it) seems to know nothing about touring and possibly less about her own abilities or otherwise as a performer, let alone company creator.

There have been good things for me doing this production. I've had to develop a character different to myself with a strong (posh) New York accent. I've had to be able to learn lines again. It's a two-hander so there are a lot of lines. I've had to sustain my patience in the face of the nightmares created by the other actor (TOA). There have been frequent incidences of "whoop she goes again" and not many of "jolly good company". I titled a recent email reply to the director with the subject line "horror, horror" as I'd been alerted to a terrible YouTube video posted by TOA. 

The best thing has probably been the delight of working with a really good director (RGD). The RGD may be a first timer but is also an actor and really knows her stuff - perceptive, intuitive, creative. And she is going to be directing a production of 'Steaming' in the Autumn. She suggested I should audition. It's for a different company. A single venue. Proper staging. Organised rehearsal schedule and space. Thought-through production. I did audition and the RGD emailed me afterwards to say: 
"You were outstanding...Thank you so much for today, you really were superb."
I know that's me boasting but it was a real lift to my spirits and if I don't get a part after that feedback I will be crushed!

So, no matter what the weather throws at me, I am determined to be positive. I have chosen my new head shots, am building a new website for myself, will soon have a new showreel, I am performing in the tricky two-hander and have the prospect of a really good show in the autumn too. Forget the MonSter - no matter how much it reminds me that it's there (e.g. I keep falling over!), I am being who I am. I am an actor. And I am jolly good company.