I woke up this morning and spent ages trying on different combinations of clothes in front of the mirror. I wanted to look like Fagin, but a Fagin that could be modern. A sort of post-retro-punk-arthouse Fagin. Malcolm Maclaren plays Fagin through Al Barclay. The usual stuff. Last night I dreamt I was Fagin. It’s seeped into my imagination. Auditions have always been thin on the ground so I try to think things through when one comes in, which keeps my hit rate high. And then I fall into ideaholes. This isn’t the first time I’ve auditioned for Fagin. Last time it came close but apparently I was too young. Sad. I still remember the song they taught us in the recall. Now I’m older.
Dressed sufficiently absurdly, yet still looking like I might just be a hipster, I wandered to The Royal Court. I DID NOT AUDITION FOR OLIVER TWIST AT THE ROYAL COURT. That was somewhere else. I went there to see my friend Dan and help with a film he is making. He has installed his equipment in the upstairs bar. Last time I was there I stood on the balcony and listened to two people in twinsets and pearls talking loudly about the show I was watching, having gobsmackingly missed what I thought to be the point. But Dan was there, right in the heart of Chelsea, trying to film young sexy people saying direct to camera why they have registered to vote. I feel honourbound to help him avoid getting nothing but slightly mawkish pompous gangly kids who only stopped calling their father “daddy” a year ago. So if you know anyone who is good to come and spend a short time saying something to camera, doesn’t have a trust fund, and can get to Chelsea, send them today (16th May 2017). He’ll be there from 10 to 5. It’s one sentence. I said “If you’ve ever used the NHS, register to vote.”
Then I went off to Warren Street and auditioned for Fagin. The audition was improv with context. Last time I had an improv audition there was no context, which makes for an impossible situation. This dude framed it very well. And with a frame you are free to range. It’s probably unwise to blog about an audition, because then if you don’t get it, you don’t get it publicly. But I am old enough and ugly enough, and have sat on the other side enough, to know that my ability is not in question. Just my suitABILITY. See what I did there…? Not getting the part once you’ve been around this long is about nothing more than being the wrong age, height, face shape, skin tone – whatever – things you can’t affect. I’ve been involved in casting discussions where we’ve said “He was great, but he’s so short next to the girl we’ve already cast… will it look weird?” There are so many things that come into play. Nonetheless, I consider it a win to have got the director and the producer, who were pretending to be children, to sing the “Fuck you coppers” song that I made up on the spot. The frame was modern Fagin getting busted and different choices he might make to let his ship go down.
Fagin is an interesting archetype – he is so familiar to us. A charismatic man who creates a bubble around him, which he maintains with a mixture of psychopathy and strange empathy. He somehow makes people feel happy to take risks for him, and get little by way of reward. He joyfully does unthinkable things, and makes them into songs and fun (if we are fans of the Lionel Bart’s musical.) The world that he came out of with Dickens must have been such a dark place, where the children of poor families would have ended up alone on the streets because their parents were dead of curable diseases. It’s hard to imagine a world like that where the poor were expendable, and the trappings of democracy essentially an inconvenience to be bypassed. Where even the right to vote was restricted to half of the population. How fortunate we are to be in a place where all of us can vote, and where we have recently witnessed that the process of voting can lead to results that are surprising, and divisive and unwelcome to those “in power” who we can start to think of as strong, stable and inevitable. Make sure you’ve all registered in the UK. Wouldn’t it be great to get a good turnout this year.