Gone in Sixty Seconds

There are so many reasons not to date actors: they’re flakes, they don’t have steady jobs, they’re short. But when the only people you meet are actors, sometimes it’s unavoidable. I knew Rich was a rising star when I first met him. Objectively, he was attractive enough. He had black hair, green eyes and a killer smile. He did that grungy “I don’t care”/hair slightly greasy look to T.

But the thing about Rich was he had that spark. It’s not something you can really define, but everyone knows it when they see it – Star Quality. Star Quality on its own can take an actor pretty far, but when you combine it with actual talent, it’s an unstoppable combination. True talent is one of those qualities that can more than make up for deficiencies in other areas. It’s why guys like Lyle Lovett can nab girls like Julie Roberts (even if only briefly).

I met Rich in acting class. He was the one with whom everyone wanted to do scenes, discuss notes and be friends. It was a Tuesday class and not a lot of people went out afterwards, so we went for a coffee: him a latté, me a cappuccino. We starting hanging out, rehearsing scenes, watching DVDs and daydreaming together. I knew I wasn’t falling in love – I was mesmerized.

Then it happened. Someone else decided to tap into his Star Quality. Not another woman, a producer/director. He was going to star in an independent film by the latest Sundance sensation. It was to be filmed in France. He’d be gone for several months, but he wasn’t leaving for another three. He decided there was no point in us continuing to date. I guess I agreed.

I looked into his green eyes and the spark was gone. In its place was fear. Fear of success? Fear of blowing his big chance? I didn’t know. It was as if his urban cool was dissolving in front of me. I gave him a goodbye kiss and confirmed: the spark was gone.

The Crying Game

The completion of a major project is inevitably followed by a period of “now what”. The Fringe wasn’t exactly the big break I need but at least it’s a good résumé builder. The end of the Fringe was a big party. The whole thing is supposed to be actually – if you’re not developing a slight hunch from 30 pounds of flyers strapped to your back. At least I made some good contacts. But it’s too soon to touch base – everyone needs some time to come down off the Fringe high, even critics/producers.

I’m not ready to take on another big production, mainly because I need a day job to pay for luxury items such as rent. Acting is one of those professions in which the supply (of actors) far exceeds the demand. There’s always someone willing to do it for free, so if you want experience, you have to work for free, too. I realized that, barring immediate paid acting work, I needed to get a job. So I pondered ideas for a day job that would still allow me to audition as needed:
• Bartender – too smoky
• Waitress – too cliché
• Receptionist – too much talking, could damage vocal chords
• Retail – too tempting to blow meagre wages with in-store discount

I settled on temp work and signed with a reputable agency in Richmond last week. On the tube ride home, I decided to shake off the post-Fringe slump. What I needed was written goals:
1) Get an agent
2) Get paid acting work
3) Become Fabulously Successful

It’s good to have goals.

I walked home from the tube station feeling more optimistic when a desperate-looking girl approached me. “I lost my wallet and I need to get to Clapham.” In her frantic babbling, she had an explanation for everything: the pickpocket also got her mobile phone and she didn’t know anyone’s number by heart; she’d tried calling the bank from a payphone but couldn’t get through; etc., etc. I felt bad and gave her two quid. After all, I’ve lost my wallet before and it’s a nightmare. Helping her made me feel better about my situation. In five minutes I’d be on the couch watching E! News Live and heating up some pasta – how bad could things be? That poor girl had to take two buses across town and hope someone was home to let her into her flat. I glanced back to see if she caught the bus. Instead she had dashed across the street and I could see her gesticulating to a young couple – obviously telling the same sob story. She even cried real tears! At least someone is getting paid acting work.


10 a.m.
After several hours of flyering yesterday with 30 pounds of flyers in my backpack (not an exaggeration), we only had a dozen people in the audience. I’m feeling pretty beat up but I have to get back out there and pass them out again today.

11:30 a.m.
Did I mention I'm covered in mosquito bites? I don't even know how I could possibly get so many on my butt – I’ve been wearing jeans every day. Did they bite through them or did they somehow get into them? Ewww!

2 p.m.
It’s raining and I’m covered in mosquito bites and a streaky fake tan. There is no glamour here. Maybe that’s a good thing. The Royal Mile is d-e-a-d.

6:40 p.m.
I found out that The Scotsman is coming to review the show. Great – no time to recruit friends into the audience; it would take them too long to get here.

9:30 p.m.
I was feeling confident by the time it was curtains up and we had a good crowd. The beginning of the show went fine. There were some technical difficulties (bad sound cues, etc.) and then halfway through the show, we lost the crowd. I don't know what happened and worse, people said I looked nervous. I think it's because I talk fast and use my hands.

11 p.m.
I’m feeling quite despondent and have suddenly realized why so many performers use drugs… anything to get your mind of an impending bad review. I’m just going to bed instead.

2 a.m.
Can’t sleep. I hope we don’t get listed as a “Fringe Turkey”, a one-star show that has its own section of The Scotsman’s web site. Although I’m sure over the years plenty of great performers have been Turkeys, but it’s a small comfort.

8 a.m.
I bought The Scotsman. No review. Maybe they won’t print it at all.

10 a.m.
There are two flyerers for every person out this morning.

There are more people out now. The Friday crowd is kicking in. I ran into some friends from London on the Mile. We agreed to see each other’s shows, only to realize they are on at the same time.

1 p.m.
I wandered into Plaisir du Chocolat for obvious reasons. I thought I’d get some lunch, but they only have dessert so I had a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Things could be worse. I really want a cheese sandwich though.

2 p.m.
I need a cheese sandwich like now. My back is killing me. Is it irresponsible to get a back massage when your show is losing money?

3 p.m.
I really must get online and check The Scotsman for an online review.

6 p.m.
I got my cheese sandwich, which also had unwanted green onions and mayo, but let’s be realistic – this is the U.K. so there’s going to be mayo. I’m sitting in the theatre’s bar because there is nowhere else to sit. I rarely drink before shows but today red wine is needed for my aching back. It’s cheaper than a back massage.

6:30 p.m.
Bobby came rushing into our tiny greenroom which is not only the size of a supply cabinet, I think it actually was at one point a supply cabinet. He had a printout of our review. They said the performances were “adequate”. It could be worse.

7 p.m.
I can’t believe it – it hasn’t rained all day.

9:15 p.m.
We pulled it together and had a great show after last night’s disaster. Things are looking up.

10 p.m.
It’s raining.