I’m not very good at stopping. Lou has this whole background of Vipassana and meditation and stillness. My brain twitches the whole time. I’d probably enjoy the challenge of sitting still for a few days, but I’m forever thinking about the next thing I need to do or want to do or think I must do. We’ve been having a relaxing day but I keep twitching. I’ll stand up suddenly and walk around a bit or I’ll say something out loud, or part of me will just be jiggling. Right now as I write my right foot is going round in circles. I’ve usually got that nervous energy tweaking out of me somewhere. Lou makes lists and then she chills out in total stillness and then somehow everything on the list ends up done anyway while I’m still twitching and I’ve achieved less than her.
She’s agreed to help out at Buddhafield Festival for six days – in a week or so. I had the opportunity to apply but I don’t feel like I can spare the time. I want to be twitching all my energy towards getting myself a decent acting job, rather than zenning out in a field in Taunton.
This morning I helped my friend with a self tape for a major TV show, and one of the characters I had to read is a part I auditioned for at Elstree over ten years ago. I was in tech week for an experimental Macbeth, and didn’t stop to realise it was a major part I was auditioning for. I took time off on the morning of our showing at a subterranean church in Holborn, with my head full of Shakespeare, and got on the train. I realised on the train that I had only learnt one out of about 8 scenes I had been asked to learn. The director literally gave me one reading of one scene – (not the one I’d learnt) – and sent me home. “Thank you, Al. That’ll be all.” I was half focused on getting back to rehearsal. The casting director looked crestfallen. I kind of just … left. A bit shocked, sure. But…
The enormity of the fact that this part still exists a decade later only really just landed on me this morning. Circumstances. It was clearly not to be. But I should have looked a lot closer at the audition material, and maybe I should’ve apologetically cut out of the barely paid experimental Shakespeare showing I was swamped in, so I could’ve given myself either a decent shot at over a decade of employment at a high level, or at the very least not put myself in a position where I have never been seen by that casting director since. I’ve missed a few shots, but looking back that was a big drop. I know the guy that plays the part – worked with him closely for a short while back in the day. He’s always been a bit starry. Chances are I was just in as a backup option, but nevertheless, an opportunity dropped. Ow. Those big things don’t come round very often and usually I nail them if they do so it’s always hard to contemplate the big drops. Plus the director was, frankly, a bit of a dick about it. One reading of one scene and a “Thank you?” Up yours, mate. Back then I was on the back foot as I knew I was hugely underprepared. Otherwise I would have held my ground.
So yeah. Thinking about it that’s probably why I’ve been twitching and restless all day. To see that character name in the script in 2021 reading for a friend who is taping their audition. Right there was a sliding door. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so broke for ten years if I’d realised I was in for a big part and dropped my friends in the shit with their showing and worked like hell towards the audition.
Still. I didn’t drop my friends in the shit. And I’ve done a whole hell of a lot more like that experimental subterranean Shakespeare in the decade following that fucked meeting. I just got back from doing experimental Welsh things and it was glorious. “It’s not even fringe, what you’ve just done” says my friend who is working at The National, not in a judgmental manner, just trying to work out where to put it. Because yeah. It’s not. I do a lot of very very odd things and have done for ages. I bloody love it too. It keeps me happy.
Sure, I might have dropped everything and crammed that part and then maybe I would’ve got it and been nominated for a few soap awards and what have you and maybe I’d be happy and maybe not. Who the hell knows. What I do know that I still want and need to work. I’ve still got plenty of unfinished business. And the industry seems to be picking up. And I want a slice of the pie. So I’m not gonna go to Buddhafield Festival to relax.
And you can guarantee that the director of the next big thing I’m auditioning for will be at Buddhafield and I won’t meet them now because I’m not going.