Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Improvisation. Get it right and there's a high chance they'll put you in line for the throne but get it wrong and you deserve to be sent straight to Hell. Don't bother stopping by 'Go' and collecting your £200, you won't be needing that where you're going.

I've spoken before about improvising for castings but the difficulty there lied in the fact that I really had no idea what I was talking about. Blagging can only get so far and once you add the fact that you're spouting utter nonsense to the awful realisation that you're making up names of haircuts to try and earn a living, you might as well give up the game there and then. But for today's casting I really had no excuse. Today I found myself desperately grappling for the role of an office worker in an advert for a certain tinned goods company. This should've been a breeze - I spent the last two years almost exclusively being an office slave and I bloody love food that has previously been encased in metal. To be honest, I'm pretty upset they felt the need to audition me. My canned food eating skills are second to none. During a Shakespeare festival, I became so poor that my diet for a whole week was almost entirely made up of Sainsburys value tomato soup and Tesco value gin (please note the two different supermarkets - I like to keep a varied diet.)

So the job should've been mine. Or it should've been if the casting just consisted of them feeding me soup. But it didn't. Instead someone with too much time and too little imagination thought it would be fun to make some poor unsuspecting actors enter into a long form improvised scene.

'You're just colleagues at work talking about daily office life. Just make sure you drop in how tasty and nourishing the metallic imprisoned food is too.'

Cue the most unnatural chat that has ever graced an underground casting studio. I should be good at office chat. I spent almost 24 months chatting inanely in an office. But never at work was I chatting to two people who also wanted my job while we a sipped at thin air in front of a camera. Add these into the equation and casual chat becomes stilted mumblings and awkward utterances. Not once while at work did I ever mention the need to get figures together quickly due to a tight deadline set by 'Michael.' Why is one actor, desperate for real-sounding words, telling me I should be so proud of the expert team I've created while another is berating me for pulling the new ginger guy in Accounts at last night's office party? Because we all panicked and realised that it's impossible to not run, head-first, into every stereotype that was ever created. Then, amidst this cacophony of made-up drivel, we then had to crowbar even more cringe-filled lines about how good the oxygen we're currently sipping is.

Sadly the only thing I left with was an incredible craving for the product that was being sold. Have I just been part of the most elaborate and soul-destroying marketing campaign of the modern age? Or maybe I'm just a hungry, starving actress? Cliched answers on a make believe postcard please.

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