So here we are in May! I’m not sure what happened to my March and April posts, they just didn’t happen. I’d like to say it was because I was…over in LA or busy rehearsing a new play….or up to my ears in meetings, but sadly not. I did a few commercials which are airing now, one for a bank and one for another cleaning product ( I’ve just got that face) which are always welcome to receive when things get tight, and did a corporate job in Stockholm so all good and appreciated, and my veg chopping job continues a few days a week.
What I can deduce from this activity is that the air I’m giving off right now is that you would trust me in a bank, albeit with what looks like a constipated smile, I care ALOT about having a clean carpet (alright alright…no giggles from friends) and can also negotiate a group of rowdy men in suits, high on chocolate, who haven’t learnt how to not interrupt and finally I have found the ultimate way to slice butternut squash WITHOUT slicing your nail off ( It only took a few weeks to grow back but it was touch and go in a few castings where you hold up your hands).
Good news is that I’m fully back in the swing of my writing class led the Amazing playwright Jemma Kennedy. I’d missed the weekly class and all that it supports in my writing so was relieved to be back. I had to take care in my over excitement not to bounce around like a demented puppy and spew verbal diarrhoea at everyone oversharing information (which I’m prone to do). Fortunately, I’d resisted too much coffee so held back. Just as a plug, Jemma’s play ‘The summer Book’ is about to open at the Unicorn Theatre soon, so get yourselves down there. It looks great and I’m booked already. We looked at my play ‘Fireblight’ in week two of class and it was a great help to hear what I call the ‘grubby’ play out loud. Grubby because it’s a little bleak and I feel I need to wash my hands after reading it. I’ve got some great ideas to work on from the feedback, so now I just need to stop being so lazy and get on with the second draft. I’m finding anything other than that to do, but I WON’T go as far as ironing, I draw the line there!
And so, one of the most exciting bits of progress is that Jo Harper, who is writing my one woman show ‘Can you hear me running’. based on me running the marathon after my vocal surgery has finished a first draft of the play. We had a reading over at mine and it’s in great shape. It’s a subject I could never written about myself as it’s all too close to the bone, but she has managed to get right under the skin of the emotional journey I went on through quite a dark period of my life whilst still making it funny and entertaining. We’ve been sending it off to a couple of scratch nights where we could try out a small section of it and get some feedback, so hopefully, before the summer, we should be able to show something. I have to say it terrifies the living daylights out of me, as it’s such a personal piece but I reckon that it’s time to engage with the whole ‘Feel the fear’ malarkey and all that (gulp). And I’ve sat beside friends last year facing up to far more scary things than that…so, keeping the momentum going.
What the piece also made me think about a lot is how many roles women play out in their lives. As the piece develops it’s about not just about my experience, but about any woman juggling her world whilst staying true to herself. Someone came up to me in the playground the other day having seen my ad and said ‘Oh, so you work for that bank?’. I said ‘Err…no..I’m an actress’. ‘Oh’ she said. ‘But how did you get on it?’. ‘Because I’m an actress and I was playing a part’. ‘Oh, wow…wow’ she said, well done’. and walked off looking flummoxed. I smiled to myself. I’ve become an underground actress. I’m just a mum at school and so it was completely out of context for someone to see me on the screen. I guess I should be flattered or worried I’m not doing more? At least I’m believable as the other day I got the old ‘how do we know you’re telling the truth if you’re an actress..hey…hey? (YAWN). Acting is actually the one place you have to learn to be truthful when you’ve pretended to be so many other things to finance your career. To ‘Lie’ in real life would be pretty useless in social situations. However it did get me thinking about all the other less convincing roles I’ve played out in the last twenty years to support my acting career, so I guess there’s a time and a place for it to be useful. Here’s the list, not in order: Watch repairer (I had three suits worn in rotation over three week periods), customer services in jewellers, paint your own pots café, art shop, café, receptionist, millions of temp jobs..can’t even remember what I was doing things, role play, children’s entertainer, children’s workshop leader, poster and leaflet distributor, marketing assisitant, pasty shop, Madame de Pompedou ( National gallery)…the list goes on. Does it make me a jack of all trades and master on none though?
And so, one woman in her lifetime plays many parts, with their entrances and exits( sorry, now I’ve got my tag line I’m in a roll…cheesy I know) and some prove more believable than others. Being a mum is up there with one of the most truthful ones to date, there’s no getting away from yourself there and fuels an honesty and depth of tenacity I never knew, one You can’t and would never want to exit from. My episode of Foyles War came on the other day from years ago. ‘Look boys..mummy being a WAF officer’…’oh yeah they said, (polite pause as they watch me on the tele look earnestly at a bomber in danger of crashing)… can we put Harry Potter back on?’. ‘Yeah…yeah, lets’ put Harry Potter back on’ I said. The programme is, after all, something in the past, from years ago, even before they were a tiny idea in the bright sky, nothing to do with them, someone with big 1940’s hair they sort of recognise. To them, I’m Mum, and I’m glad to cherish that role, whilst still keen to make sure my little voice of creativity is heard.
Ooh and I’m sorry to the next temp who was left with a mess to clear up at a pharmaceutical company job in Ealing in 2002. I pressed a lot of buttons and things disappeared! I’m sure, however like me, you were soon moving on to the next role!