Day 30. I’m thinking about my old college. It’s remarkable how that one weekend recall audition in the last millennium set the course for the friendships I have now. I went to Guildhall, which is a vast college training musicians, opera singers, stage managers, and a few actors… It usually features on those meaningless lists that tell you which drama schools are the best. I didn’t know that at the time. I just scattergunned and that was the one I liked most. I often flashback to myself in the final meeting of the auditions process answering the question “Why do you want to go to Guildhall” with “I don’t particularly. No more than any of the other places. I mean the prospectus is shit. But I like you guys now I’ve met you.” As ever too honest for my own good. But they got me. And it really is an excellent training. I had no idea how lucky I was.
They accept and hone diverse actors that have sensitivity, heart and kindness. People that are generous and community minded. But outside of that, from all walks of life. And they’ll move mountains to pay for you if you get accepted and you can’t, which really broadens the cultural identity, and is the main reason why I was so lucky to be there. I was one of the rare poshies. Nowadays with funding like it is, insitiutions like that are more and more important.
I had no idea how central to my nexus of friendships that place would become. My best friend trained there at the same time as me, in a different year. I lived for years in the early days with one of the guys from my year and we did our best to nurture one another through challenging times. Nurture is a huge value in the training there. It’s a genuinely wonderful school, and considering it takes so few actors – (there were 23 in my year out of thousands) – it takes lovely ones. Myself excepted. I’m a dick.
Originally from LA, one of the surviving actors from around the same time as me was introduced to me a week ago. She’s great, energetic, full of life and heart as I’d expect from that place. And she instantly plopped me into her community. And invited me to a screening party.
A screening party. This is essentially loads of friends coming to celebrate the fact that she was on the tellybox. She was in a delightful show called Scorpions. It’s about two brainy people who are spies in the Cold War era which is now. She played a chess player from a country that is not Russia but people want to defect to the USA from there because it’s better in the USA. But they are likely to get chased by guns and cars and shouting people. This show ain’t Mike Leigh. But it’s lovely.
What was even more lovely is that there were forty people there. The barman from Soho House was there. “Ahhh yeah I just work at Soho House so I see her pretty often. I thought I’d come.” It was a load of people coming to support one of their friends doing a turn. Almost like it was a one night only show. Everyone cheered when she came on screen. It was described to me in the frame of “We all like to see when someone we like does well.” And of course she delivered a fab performance, speaking authoritatively in a pretend language from some place called Scoparushachek or somesuch, and working sparely and truthfully.
When I get back to town and hit the industry as hard as I intend to now I’ve shed the dead skin, I would love to invite any of the few of you who persist in reading these daily updates to celebrate my first part as a professor who turns out to be an alien in Doctor Who or whatever in this way. Better than watching it at home and getting a bunch of texts.