TWO STROPS AND A SMILE
Yesterday was certainly one of three halves. I was scheduled to
- film from eleven til two in docklands,
- go to a studio from four til six in Swiss Cottage to record a voice over for a feature film
- and then perform at Player Playwrights in Kilburn at 7:30 after attending their committee meeting at 6:15.
Tip for actors: pack your bag the night before in case you accidentally set your phone alarm for 9 pm instead of a.m.
Thus I packed
- a couple of alternate tops for the filming
- a pretty outfit for the evening
- powder, paint to make a lady what she aint – i.e. lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadows and rouge
- deodorant, perfume
- make-up remover in case film make-up artiste made me look like an old woman
- script for film
- script for play-reading (in large font)
- three copies of my own entry for PP short play competition
- Samsung tablet in case I had time to write this blog – I didn’t
- Ibuprofen tablets in case my ankle started hurting again,
- support ankle sock,
- pen an highlighter,
- bottle of water
- vocalzone throat sweets
- hair clips, necklace, earrings for evening
- emergency energy bar
- and glitter nail polish.
It was going to be a long day.
Filming was great fun. I got to be Frank’s East End gran with some great lines dealing with a bunch of hooligans. I tried to insert “leave it out, Frank, they aint worf it.” But although the director laughed, he thought it better that I stuck a little more to the script he had written. Make-up girl was lovely and did my eyebrows really well!
Then, at 1.40, half way through filming, I get a phone call cancelling my voice work because they were under-running: i.e they would be leaving the studio before I’d arrive. Their morning had gone well.
To say I was peeved is an understatement . The film people had re-scheduled their shoot to ensure I could get to Swiss Cottage by four, I’d had four phone calls and texts from v.o. people confirming they loved my voice-reel so much that whatever time I arrived the director would stop what he was doing to slot me into the studio.
Oh, they apologised profusely and said: they’d keep my details on file and hope to work with me in the future. I replied that any future work would have to go through my agent with a proper contract and a proper fee. I said that it was not about the money (this was, of course, a gratis/deferred payment job to help them out and to give me another voice sample for my reel) but it was about respect. They apologised again; whatever!
So, me and my bag, had time to get home and change for the evening in comfort.
Grumpily I arrived on time at committee meeting. I must state categorically that I am not a committee member. I vowed nine years’ ago when we moved to London that I would not sit on another committee, not organise anything, not get involved, certainly not be a production assistant again (loved it, got the t-shirt, time to move on). I came to the big city to act and to write; to do: not to boss. However, I succumbed to flattery to attend this meeting and give my input about running master-classes for the group.
Big mistake. Got involved in making far too many suggestions, was far too bossy but managed to escape, I think, without actually committing myself to anything.
I really enjoyed watching the ten short plays though I got into a strop about one entry not having a female character as per the competition rules: “there must be speaking parts for at least one male and one female actor.” Author got away with it by having a page-boy played by an actress. Didn’t wash with me! Against the spirit of the thing.
The play I was in was jolly good. I played the prime minister’s snotty mother. Lovely writing of a lovely cameo.
Got into another Due to a lack of male actors available, I was also asked to portray an MP called Hugo in the same play which contained a Prime Minister, his wife, mother, his chauffeur,a sat-nav voice and two members of parliament both designated at men: Guy and Hugo.
Why? Why does even an experienced female playwright instinctively write such parts for men? It’s thoughtlessness rather than sexism. Too many roles in all media are designated as male unnecessarily.
The same with age ranges. In fact I was told on aforementioned film that my part had originally been written for a younger woman, Frank’s sister, until they’d had the idea that having an older character in the film might give it more variety.
So after the strops which I think were quite minor I then had a very pleasant surprise. The sketch wot I wrote was well-received and came second in the public vote. That means that not only do I get a certificate – woooo – but also it will be performed again in January as one of six finalists in a “play-off”! I’ve great hopes for it doing well as some people had apparently marked it down because although they liked it they had felt it was off the topic. Ah, the topic. (Forgot to mention that earlier due to all that ranting about lack of female roles.)
The topic was “Magna Carta” so some entries were set in the time of King John, one had a great punning reference to a brand of choc ices and the winning one deeply referenced our bill of rights to modern life. One, my favourite to tell the truth, involved Miss Marple solving the mystery of the theft of one of the Magna Cartas from a museum. (There are actually several versions of the charter, some updated throughout the middle ages. I did some research when considering writing mine. Well, read Wikepedia.)
Stuck for inspiration, as writing about barons is not my forte, I suddenly had the idea for my entry, thinking it might amuse rather than being a serious contender. I quickly dashed off a sketch about a pre-nuptial agreement between two film stars; after all a pre-nup’s surely is a form of great contract.
The actors did me proud. I do like it when audiences laugh at my comedy writing. By the way, the plays are performed with neither the audience nor the actors knowing who the author is in order to avoid some bias.
So that was my day, yesterday. Two strops ending with a smile.