Sunday, 7 May 2017

Spinning Plates

During my day job a while ago, I was asked if this is what I did for a living. I was explaining that no, not technically, although it did take up most of my time.

'Oh, what else do you do?' 

I explained that, really, I was an actor. 

'Oh, so what acting work are you doing at the moment?' 

'Well, nothing at the moment.' 

I starting explaining that I'd recently done a couple of things, a couple of corporates, some role play, a voiceover job. 

'Have you got any acting work coming up.'

'Not right now but you never know.'

I suddenly realised that, to this stranger, I might as well have said that I was an astronaut. No, NASA don't know anything about me but I saw some stars recently and I'm pretty sure that I spotted the ISS flying past although it could have been a plane. 

I think there are two very distinct stages of being an actor, There are the times when you can very proudly declare, 'I am an ACTOR,' as someone luckily asks what you do for a living when you're in a whirl of auditions and acting work and emails asking for your availability. Then there are the times when you mumble, 'Well, technically I'm an actor,' as someone unfortunately asks what you do for a living when you're in a whirl of day jobs and commuting and emails asking if you fancy coming back to your old call centre job. 

When you're in your proud stage, it's glorious. THIS is what you expected at drama school, this flurry of spinning plates, you're doing it so expertly and you realise that this is what you're born to do. Then suddenly you remember that you have to eat off one of those spinning plates, then you see that one has a crack in it that needs mending and, oh, here comes someone else spinning the same plates as you but, hang on, where did they learn that Triple Platter Spin into Double Saucer Dive? It's then that you realise you're all spinning those same bloody plates from Ikea and you realise that you've been trying to keep them spinning for so long that you're not 100% sure what happens if you just stop.

Stopping is terrifying. Everyone thinks you're a plate spinner. You've dedicated your life to being a plate spinner. Your parents gave you money to go to plate spinning school. Everyone you went to school with knows you're a plate spinner. All the other plate spinners compare their plate spinning to yours and you know that if you stop spinning, everyone will assume that you're not very good at plate spinning anymore. 

The thing is, there are many reasons to stop spinning plates. It might be that want to try a new technique, or maybe you fancy a break so you can save up for some better plates or maybe, just maybe, your arms are just fucking tired. 

I made a decision a few years ago to not beat myself up over a lack of work. I worry sometimes that this attitude makes me a terrible actor, that I'm not committed enough to the cause. Social media can make you feel that if you're not living and breathing your acting career as well as making mnemonics to remember every casting director for every show in London right now then you're doing it wrong. The truth is, since I made this little pledge to myself, I've never been happier about my career. Sure, I'm not going up for the biggest acting roles but I also don't make myself feel like a worthless piece of crap every day either. 

I think I've realised that I like doing a little bit of everything. 

*rewind back to the spinning plates*

I'm a big fan of the picky tea. Or the bits plate. Or bits and pieces. Whatever you called it in your house, it's that tea that you'd have on a Sunday evening. A bit of cheese. Some crisps. Maybe a little sausage roll or pork pie. Some carrot batons. You might add some cherry tomatoes if you're not me. A gloriously crispy and tangy pickled onion. Nowadays it will also include some olives or artichoke hearts, some hummus and those bloody quinoa crisps that are too addictive for their own good. It's a beautiful fridge buffet that although looks like a mish-mash of leftovers, is actually a stunningly thought-out thing of all the things you enjoy. It's comforting and lovely and satisfying and, best of all, 

That's the plate that I want to keep spinning. Some acting work. Some writing work. My day job. Trawling casting call sites. Role play. Dedicated time to watch Drag Race. Thinking up excuses so I can blame a lack of acting work on National Sandwich Week or International Leaf Day. It's taken me eleven years to realise that this is how I like to do things. It might not make the most successful actor and it might not always give me the most exciting answers when someone asks if I've got any acting work coming up but, for me, there's less stress, I enjoy it and sometimes, just sometimes, there might be a pickled onion. 


I've recently set up a Ko-fi page where the idea is that, if you like what someone does, you treat them to a virtual cup of coffee by donating them the money of what a coffee would be in a reasonably pricey cafe. I'm not a fan of coffee, I'm more of a tea person myself, and, to be honest, just people reading, sharing and commenting on what I do is payment enough but sometimes going through these casting calls requires much tea-based comfort so, you know, it's there if you fancy it... 

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