Here are a few things to remember for part two:
a) I was dropped from my agency under what I thought was suspicious and weird timing.
b) I was given six more months with the agency whilst I possibly moved to London and found another agent.
c) I had to find a job teaching online because I had £400 left in my bank account due to no work and exorbitant train fares down to London for auditions.
d) I got a TV commercial through the agency.
e) The EMPTY CHAIR. Don’t forget the empty chair.
We’ve covered A and B in other blogs. Let’s start with C. The actor’s hell of trying to get a job whilst trying to remain an actor. So actors always have to have the backup jobs, right. It’s a cliché, it’s so expected. Myriads of parents have warned their actor children to have ‘something else to fall back on…just in case, dear.’ And there have been myriads of actors who’ve held absolute belief in their hearts (me included) that there was no need for that certificate in Education. I was going to be a working actor.
So I got a job to allay not only my own financial fears and that sinking, sick feeling of poverty in the pit of your stomach, but also those of my partner who was beginning to wonder how I was going to pay rent. It caused a lot of worry between us. A weird suspicion in my partner’s eyes that I was not going to be responsible for my half of the bills. It eats away inside of you. At the relationship too. Just one way partners of actors are affected by our career choice. I start the job and immediately send off to my acting agents an email detailing that I will not be available between the hours of 11am and 2pm daily as I will be teaching. Any auditions I get to please be mindful of these times and not send me out. All good.
Let’s look at D. I really did mean it when I said the devil is in the details. I did two auditions for the commercial. The audition process was bizarre because they were trying to hide that a star performer was going to be involved. On my second audition or ‘callback’ the director of the commercial nonchalantly started the audition with, “Well, I don’t really know why we called you here today,” So inside I get angry. It’s all so shoddy. I say nothing, of course. I am a well trained actor and know I could lose the job if I open my mouth to object. So I just spent £90-£100 for a short notice train ticket to come to a callback in which the director is not even sure why he called me? I wanted to scream in his face that I hadn’t eaten anything all day so that I could be sure I could afford rent at the end of the month. His attitude was insulting. One of the many I have experienced.
So I got the commercial. Fantastic! I must come AGAIN to London for a costume call, tomorrow. So I ask my friend I’m staying at if I can sleep over (not planned) for two more nights. One for the costume call and the day after for the commercial shoot day. I have to change my train ticket. All fine. I warn my agent I need to know when the costume call is as I am teaching. Let’s call this agent, ‘Lesley’. Lesley says they don’t know when it will be.
The next morning I start teaching at 11am. At 11.12am while I am busy with my first class of three, an email pings through from Lesley saying that I need to be at the costume fitting at 2pm. But I teach until 2pm. Then I have to haul my arse all the way across London to a place I have never been before. Impossible. In my five minute break between classes I email Lesley and tell them that there is no way I can make that call and they know this because of my work hours email.
Lesley comes back to me that I need to be there. I say no. No. You knew I was teaching. No. I can be there by three if I dash after the classes. He says OK. I say I wouldn’t mind talking to him later to voice some concerns I have had about the audition process and I would like to talk to them about having to teach as I needed to pay rent. I keep thinking: why did the agency ignore my working hours? After the classes I dashed to the costume fitting and got there at 3:15pm to meet some weary people who wanted to know if I brought anything with me. I don’t live in London and didn’t know I had to provide my own costume. These people are pissing me off. First my agent and then these TV people who have no idea that I came all the way from Liverpool on the train yesterday morning without any shirts for them to see.
After the costume call I sit in a nearby park and I call Lesley. We have a good chat about the weird audition process. I say to him that right now the teaching job is so new I am trying to make a great impression on the school so they keep me on and I can pay rent. I am sorry about not being able to be at the costume fitting at 2pm but I couldn’t help it. All was amicable. And I left that conversation thinking how wonderful it was to be able to talk to my agent and have them understand my situation. To be so nice about it.
So let’s move on to the empty chair. The empty chair belonged to the agent, Lesley. He wasn’t at the meeting with the head agent and I was soon to find out why.
And this is where the details begin to get ugly.
That empty chair haunts me.