Friday, 28 September 2012

It's Oh So Quiet

"So, are you working on anything at the moment?"

As questions go, this (along with, "So tell me what you know about tax...") must be more terrifying to an actor than a full time office job. However, unless you've been hanging out with Curiosity on Mars, if you're an actor then it's highly likely that you field this question on a weekly basis. As soon as someone has asked what you do for a living and you've apologetically told them that you prat about all day in the hope that someone might hire you to play a giraffe, the dreaded question is on its way.

When you're working it's the greatest question on earth. When you've got something thrillingly exciting coming up, you're practically making them ask the question before you've even met. But it's when you've got nothing on that it's a real problem. When your horizon is emptier than an actress' purse, the question can feel like a particularly powerful punch to the stomach. Your answer is instantly negative and you find yourself desperately trying to explain to someone who really doesn't care that the industry is just a bit quiet at the moment and you never know what's around the corner. You start babbling about how it's all "ups and downs" and it's the same for everyone and it's only when you see their eyes glaze over that you trail off into a mumbling silence. If they're sensitive then they'll say something encouraging or they'll change the conversation. However, more often than not they'll try and help out by asking if you've got anything coming up soon. Non-actors, please note: if the actor hasn't mentioned an upcoming project then there isn't an upcoming project. So, when they ask and you tell that there's nothing coming up either, you're left feeling that you're telling a stranger you're the worst actor in the world. Because that's how it looks to outsiders. You're not working on anything and there's not even a job coming up any time soon. Someone call the police, we've got a first-rate bad actress here.

The problem is that it is quiet at the moment. Of course there are people out there working but even casting websites seem quieter at the moment. Usually it takes me hours to filter through all the castings, whether looking for ones to apply for or ones to mock. However, the last few weeks have had a lot less. This time last year I was going to auditions every week. This time around I've completed my third week without being seen by anyone who can stop me from dreading that bloody question cropping up. But sometimes we need these quiet spells. We need those horrifying moments where we terrify ourselves with the thought that we may never work again. We need those 2am worries that we're doing the wrong thing. We need that niggling doubt in the back of our minds from time to time that keeps telling us that this job is a waste of time. Because without all those things we wouldn't fight back and know that despite however down it can make us, however futile it can seem at times, this is still the best bloody job in the world.

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