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Small Steps

So here it is once again - 1st January. You got through last night. You dealt with the feelings of regret and omission. You've replaced them with thoughts of hope and achievement. I can't remember a first day of January that actually did dawn bright and clear, so here in the grey overcast light of south-east London, it's not difficult to look at the enormity of what lies ahead, known to the world as 2018, and not feel a little daunted.

Aficionados of Gilbert and Sullivan will know that Koko, the Lord High Executioner in "The Mikado" was well known for saying that he had a little list. His list consisted of people he rather thought should be approaching the executioner's block. Even I think that might be a little too radical for the morning of January 1st, so I'm sat here doing a little list of tasks I will achieve in this first week. Nothing too ambitious, nothing too adventurous, just a list of small jobs so that as from tomorrow, the first working day …

Christmas Comes But Once A Year

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It's that time of year when one is talking "last job before Christmas" and work seems to lack importance in comparison to arranging Amazon deliveries and working out things to tell your family when they ask "Why are you not in East Enders as yet?" Many of this years drama graduates will do more acting in the Christmas season during the family game of charades than they have yet managed professionally.

Yet because the mind is occupied with other things, everything seems a little easier. Put it bluntly. If you are not working now, there is probably little hope that you will until mid January. Castings are getting a little thin on the ground, and the only reason you'll be called in for anything is for projects being planned for the New Year. If you're not out there sprinkling your fairy dust over the regions, then you are coping with the hustle and bustle of prepping for Christmas.

Funny how once the mind is full of things to do, the lack of work can seem …

Sunday Blues

Having had a rather lovely laid-back year which had the luxury of including six weeks theatre work, I hadn't really planned to turn the Autumn into a globetrotting extravaganza. Between 31 August when I flew out to Bucharest and Dec 3rd when I will return from holiday in Cape Verde, I've managed to rack up 27.5 thousand miles in the air.

That means lots of airports, lots of lounges, lots of failed expectations, lots of hours of Netflix, and mercifully, lots of extra legroom.

Today I'm breaking into my Sunday to get the Eurostar to Paris at 5:30 PM for a job tomorrow. I find it desperately hard to break out of a warm fog of domesticity on a Sunday afternoon and head to a station or an airport. Surely these days it should be easy. Sunday has lost that special quality it used to have and now, on my journey later today, there will be ample retail opportunities, and good transport connections. Not of course that anyone has told Network Rail that.  Given that we are all encourag…

Starting on new Terms

It's obviously a remnant of my school days, but as August slowly changes into the autumnal tones of September, I get the feeling that I'm starting out again.

Even when one was going back to the same school, heading back in September meant the start of a new school year - new form teacher, new classmates, new timetable, new subjects, and  often a new way of doing things. That still feels particularly relevant even now. For many of us the summer can be a particularly quiet time of year. if we haven't disappeared to Edinburgh with a new three handed multimedia mime show, or managed to latch onto a long-term television project shooting throughout the summer, we have probably seen quite a bit of our garden/local park/window seat/bedroom (delete as applicable).

Last summer I managed to occupy myself rather astoundingly with three television projects. This year has been considerably quieter and although I am actually filming on something at the moment, the number of days I spent …

Paying the Piper

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For many actors getting the job is hard enough. An uphill struggle to get into the audition room, get oneself noticed, and be the winning choice. No wonder then that after such a battle, the thought of when one might actually get paid can be the last thing on your mind.
A theatre job might bring a pay cheque a week or 10 days after the work has been done. An agent gets the bank payment on payday and then processes it so that it arrives in the bank account of the needy actor the following week. All fine and this does have the added bonus that when you actually finish the job you still have one pay packet to come.
But what about the one-off job? The one day's filming, the commercial, or the voice-over? The corporate role-play day or the day’s work in promotions? What's a reasonable amount of time to expect to wait for payment on those occasions?
If you're dealing with the work yourself, work such as a role-play agency or a promotions agency, then it's best to check paym…

Vote for Isaac. He will make a difference.

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I've really had my fill of elections. Whatever calamitous route the decision made on June 8 takes the country down, the real sense of relief on the morning of Friday will be that the campaigning, the endless platitudes, the oft repeated right-wing stance, the lefty Facebook rants, will ease  and although there will be a large portion of people who won't get what they want, at least we might feel we have made a step forward.
So this is probably not the best time to mention that the actor's trade union, Equity, has some forthcoming elections coming up. Not normally something that would ever make me blog, but on this occasion, there is someone I want to talk about.
I have to say I’ve never really been a great fan of Equity. I just don’t get it. It may be that as a prospective actor in the 1970s, Equity represented the biggest barrier to me fulfilling my dreams. At that stage it was, like many other trade unions, a closed shop. Entry was strictly restricted and getting an Equ…

Breaking Into The Evenings

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My first job way back in 1978  was a  British Council tour Shakespeare play on behalf of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. We trotted back and forward across Europe playing for two or three nights in large theatres and attending a number of receptions in British embassies and various other locations. It was an evening reception in the cultural attache's house in Luxembourg on one of our rare evenings off which stays in my mind. By now we had grown used to making chitchat with the various diplomats and their wives we would encounter. We all had our stock reply to that searching question  "How do you learn your lines?".
So it was rather refreshing to be taxed in a different way on this particular evening by a  diplomatic wife whose first query about our lives in the theatre was "Don't you find it breaks into your evenings terribly?".  I don't think it was something that any of us had really considered. Having just come out of drama school where I…