Friday, 2 November 2012

Push Me, Pull Me

When training to become an actor, I wish someone had warned me just how much time I would spend wandering unfamiliar streets like an aimless fool. Never did I realise just how concerned I'd be by buildings being correctly labelled with their street number. Nor did I know just how angry I'd become by a street sign not being visible. But, as an actor, these things suddenly become very important. Without them, it can make turning up at auditions into such a ball ache that start Googling symptoms immediately and start wondering who to put into your will. And yesterday's audition was no expection.

It was in a part of town that I knew fairly well so I was pretty confident that I knew where I was going. With my vaguely helpful iPhone in my hand and a smug feeling that I knew exactly where I was headed, I set off. I must admit that despite my recent whinges about not getting enough auditions, this was one that I was particularly excited about. The script was poor and the concept was flimsier than my resolve to never eat crisps again. But, like the absolute professional that I am, I set off with the slightest skip in my step and the faintest twinkle in my eye.

Without wanting to brag, I found the venue pretty easily. It was a huge building on a small road and, with my expert navigational skills, I stumbled across it rather bloody well. However, upon trying the three doors I could see, all were locked and there were no buzzers or doorbells in sight. As I was about as early as the bird who has stupidly gorged on all the worms, I thought I'd have a little wander round the building to find a likely looking entrance rather than calling the director in a door-fuelled panicking frenzy. My wanderings took me through graveyard (probably full of the graves of other actors who had tried and failed to find their way into the building) and, like all great adventurers, I even got myself a sidekick. Of course, because I'm a feckless actress, my cohort was of a similar ilk and I was joined on my search by a Strongbow-swigging drunk who spent most of him time shouting at a particularly gnarly tree who I can only presume reminded him of a past loved one.

Leaving my tipsy companion behind, I finally found a door. A glass door with someone who looked vaguely helpful on the other side of it. In my excitement at finding what looked like a working entrance, I desperately tugged at the door handle. Nothing. A sign next to it had, amongst other words, 'PULL' in large, bold letter and because I was far too overjoyed to read it in full, I pulled again. Still nothing. The woman on the other side gazed at me unhelpfully. I tried pushing instead, still nothing. Still the woman did nothing to help. I waved in the hope that she might offer me assistance. Still she looked on in wonder. Finally, after a good minute of pushing and pulling that would make even The Chuckle Brothers balk, she got up and opened the door easily. "Sorry, I didn't realise you wanted to come in." To stop from myself from screaming at her for the next two hours, I bit my tongue so hard that I was millimetres from needing surgery and politely asked the way to the audition. She lead me up countless stairs while she explained that she was taking me to the waiting room. The phrase 'waiting room' conjours up images of seats in a well-lit room, maybe there are a few toys strewn across the floor and a 1997 copy of Homes and Gardens on a table. What it doesn't say is 'pitch black stairwell' which is where I found myself.

She told me to go through the next door which took you straight into the audition room. Thankfully, in a moment of rare caution, I noticed that there was an audition already going on and managed to stop myself from clumsily bursting in on someone else's casting. So, I was left to stand right outside the audition room in the dark. The stairwell was so small that the furthest away from the door you could stand was about a metre and so I lurked, as casually as possible, in the shadows. At first I stood facing the door, but worried how terrifying that would be for the other actor when they left. I tried facing away but worried about how they might think I was re-enacting that scene from The Blair Witch Project. So, like the vain thesp that I am, I chose my best side (my right if anyone's wondering) and gave them my best profile, hoping to give my waiting stance a mysterious edge.

I was finally called in, after doing an impressive do-si-do with the previous actress, and I have to admit the audition was actually ok. Sure the director gazed out of the window with the kind of expression that I normally reserve for the finance section of the news while I told her about what I'd been up to (she asked, I don't just launch into anecdotes about short films the second a moment's silence descends upon a casting.) And, of course, I was asked to be happy, sad, confused, alarmed, sassy and sensitive all at the same time. But it was a good audition. In fact, really it was only ruined by some fool who was stood far too close to the door outside when I left the room. Stupid actors.

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