Monthly Archives: October 2014

2b or not 2b, that is the pencil.


Well, with suntan lines fully faded now from a balmy few days in Cornwall over the summer, and flimsy dresses about to go into hibernation in a suitcase under the bed, it was only a matter of time before I started going for ‘Christmas castings’.
These are always a bit strange because no one in the casting looks like they’re quite yet engaged, ready, or able to cope with winter, or Christmas for that matter. Actors rush in, sweating, in a whole array of thick wooley jumpers, red lipstick and any amount of sparkle that was rummaged for earlier that morning. No one has yet washed their jumpers from last year either (does anyone, ready for next year? ) or bought new ones yet and so we all sit, uncomfortably, pulling at musty bits of a loose diamante or a stray bit of thread.

And so Christmas Mum is born, ‘Bauble Mum’, ‘Turkey Mum’, ‘ Cranberry sauce Mum’, ‘Fairy at the top of a tree Mum’, ‘Sprout mum'(the unpopular one) etc etc. I’m exaggerating a little but you get the idea. Still, whatever Mum, if it puts the real Christmas dinner on the table, who am I to turn my nose up at pretending to sing the joyous festivities of the season?
I got one of them, but ironically not as a Mum, so hey, I’m branching out it seems. I probably can’t say much about it but I do get to carry some veg, which is what I do with my day job; art imitating life? or is it the other way round? Anyway, veg is involved…not in a weird way, oh, I’ll be quiet now. Great to get the work and I even got to get a brief cab trip through Liverpool near where my Nan lived as a child which was a bonus.

Grateful as I am for an ad though, I’ve been aware recently of being ‘pencilled’ for a lot of things. It sounds great and positive and like you’re in the top proportion of actors being considered, but it seems that however ‘special’ you thought you were or this mark on the paper was, there’s loads more of you, a long list of ‘pencils’ all initially feeling ‘special’. It got me feeling nostalgic for the old ‘heavy pencil’ days. Do they still exist? You imagined a group of marketing people all pressing really heavily on their pencil next to your name until they almost went through the page. You did a casting, got a recall, got a pencil, then got a heavy pencil and then, and only then was it between a few of you. ‘May the best man win’ you’d think staring across at another red haired, blue eyed actress, wearing identical clothes. This was in the days when I used to go up for young slips of things and I never used to get any. But now, it seems, no-one quite knows what it means to be pencilled. I reckon, a new system should be put in place where they say,’ O.K, you’re a 2H, so don’t get your hopes up, or you’re a 6b which is pretty promising, or even, ‘you’re a marker pen – not quite permanent (maybe a wipe board one), but still, you’ve moved onto ink which is a huge leap. God help you though if they give you a ‘rubber’, this is a, forget it, no chance, you’re almost off the page, but at least you can book that holiday that you haven’t dared book, just in case the pencil is a definite. So 2b or not 2b, that is very often the question, whether it be a H, HB or charcoal,

And so moving on from commercial land and onto my writing, some great news is that I got long listed for the Theatre 503 playwriting award for my play Fire blight! I was overjoyed. One of a hundred longlisted plays chosen out of 1600 which is great progress for me. I sadly didn’t make the shortlist but have been offered the opportunity to apply for their 503 five which is an amazing opportunity to be attached to the Theatre and spend a year surrounded by experts and industry mentors within new writing. I’ve sent the application and so crossing fingers for that.
I also sent my play Trace off in the hope of it being part of the Arcola’s PlayWROUGHT festival, another great opportunity to get your stuff heard. I imagine it must be pretty competitive to be chosen so would be really pleased to be part of that.

Can you hear me running, our one woman show has been sent out to a few places in the hope of more development. We’ve sent it to the Etcetera theatre, the Space, and to Wales Lab, all of which, if we were successful would help us take the play to the next level. We’ve looked at the Grants for the Arts application and both got a little overwhelmed with the application form but just need to get our heads down and go through it methodically.

I’m also back on track with me and Ruth D’Sliva writing out comedy show so its only a matter of time before we have to stop amusing ourselves and just err… perform it. Gulp. Its very very silly, but everyone needs that in their life I reckon.

So, Autumn so far has been a fair old juggle between day job, castings, motherhood, which has involved two emergency dashes into my eldest’s new secondary school ( Gammy toe and overnight in hospital being the first and a shaved off finger – nail from home Ec being the second. We never did see that apple crumble) Along with all the other here there and everywhere trips that two boys under the age of twelve need.

A vegetable theme seems to be emerging this Autumn too, as when I’m not actually, in real life working with veg, I’m pretending to work with veg, and then yesterday went for a drama where I’d have to run a place that sells veg. Strange, or do I just have the look of a farmer? Or do I actually as I’ve suspected for some time now, smell of onions for three days out of seven? The casting bracket moving again to a more…weathered look?

And so, as I wait to see if I’ll be appearing with more veg, and a few other jobs I’ve been up for this week, I’ll leave you with this quote by Spike Milligan.

“Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I’ll draw a sketch of thee.
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?”

Very envious of Maxine Peake getting to play the great Dane, Hamlet. How amazing would that be…or just to get stuck into some more Shakespeare? Till the next time…..