Relief

Once again I’m here in King Willy. The King William pub in Hampstead. Just a hop skip and jump to the West Heath. And as fabulous as you’d expect.

We’ve got a live act entertaining us. We’ve just been a live act entertaining other people.

It was my first Factory Lady Macduff tonight. Plus Banquo and Menteith. It’s beginning to make sense now, this strange beautiful difficult thing we are trying to simultaneously make and destroy. We learn by doing. Tonight it felt bullshit free, and we told it clearly.

This feels like the kick off, five shows in with this tight instinctive company of strange brave purists. I’m extremely proud to have been part of some of the work tonight. The irreverence but deep understanding running in tandem alongside the work ethic and our manifesto. I don’t like writing about The Factory. We make stuff that is deliberately unrepeatable. Sometimes it flies. Sometimes it doesn’t. So be it. Tonight I never felt disconnected from the work and I’m happy about how we played as a group. It was joyful, connected and artistic.

But this morning is where I made the money. My flat was rehearsal venue for a celebrity birthday party coming up at The Globe. It’ll be a lovely evening, and also joyful, in much the same way as the show tonight. There is a little company of actors who are all working together to make this corporate work interesting and fulfilling. There’s concrete money on the table too. Even if it’s not at all well thought of in the industry. It’s a means to an end. And these guys work with integrity, and I feel valued in the work.

I do a lot of corporate work. Money isn’t endless. I can sell my skills and my time. I also turn in adverts from time to time too, selling my face. If you can do that and keep integrity, then it’s legitimate, surely, I keep telling myself. There’s a level you can reach at which you become too recognisable to do commercials. Despite 15 years I’m not quite there yet. I remember on my first job I witnessed a household name being actively attacked by another household name for doing a series of adverts. “You don’t need that you idiot. Leave those jobs for the people that can’t pay their bills.” I think the animosity ran much deeper. The response was “They straight offered me over 500 thousand. What would you do?” I heard both points and my sympathy was with the (rich) man attacked – but partly because an early film of his made him my hero and then he was hanging out with me on set by choice.

I went to the wire for two 16k adverts in one year last year and having watched both of them heavy pencil and then go to *the other dude*, I’m sanguine that that dude needed it as much as I did, even if it hurts. 16k is the perfect figure, repeated, dangled in front of me and then withdrawn. I really want a reset button to kill the old debt. My kneecaps are not under direct threat though. Just my comfort.

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A dude in the pub drew this of me. He’s got the shape of my face completely off, but the eyes are good. He proudly showed it to me as I was leaving and I thought it looked like my mate Jacob. I said “I wouldn’t like to get in a fight with that fucker.” I didn’t buy it.

I can’t imagine a world where I wouldn’t play a Factory show though. It’s my expression. My community. My friends. My challenge. When I get recognisable, what a joy to vanish into ensemble.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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