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Confessions of an Undiscovered Star

Entries in pantomime (1)


Age ain't nothing but a number?

The world of theatre, musical theatre in particular, is a funny old one. Ever since training I have had a lot of 'you'll come into your own in your thirties; just wait until you look older' and yet now I am indeed into my 30s and I still made someone audibly gasp at an audition yesterday when they found out my age (they thought I was 24 so the fact they didn't think I was a teen was in itself progress)

Despite a lot of my initial stand up comedy being about being asked for ID etc, I actually have no issue with being my age. In fact, writing this teen novel has made me realise I certainly wouldn't choose to be a teenager again and I'm certainly not convinced that 'your school days are the happiest days of your lives' as I can remember feeling inadequate and anxious about what people thought of me ALL THE TIME. I still suffer with terrible anxiety (I may do a future blog on it) that flares up every now and then but that is more linked to losing my father and to be honest is a terribly bad habit my brain doesn't want to be done with rather than 'is so and so speaking about me behind my back?'. I wish I could tell 14 year old me that people tend to be thinking and talking about themselves more often than not (this blog case in point).

I had a panto audition yesterday for an absolutely lovely production team and it was one of the most enjoyable auditions I had had for a long time (I didn't get it but that's by-the-by, they were still gorgeous and made us feel like human beings). I wasn't sure it was going to be that way as, when I walked into the waiting room, there were two girls on the floor in the splits and one with her leg around her head... It was only a month ago that I had had a short play audition with a girl in the waiting room doing a whole RSC physical warm up and I had thought 'not this again'.

I used to be one of these people though - and the fact they are all newly out of drama school and it's all that's been going on in their lives for three years is fab and great and good on them. I think real life has scrubbed out the 'wanky actorness' in me; for better or for worse as what the bloody hell is wrong with warming up judgy mcjudge face?! I know lots of people feel the same as me when faced with a waiting room of contortionists and it is totally a reflection on us feeling inadequate because we aren't as young, bendy or as pretty, but the worrying thing is I bet the majority of those stretching girls don't appreciate that they ARE all those things and still have the same self-esteem issues. It wasn't all lost as, despite all the young, slender girls, I knew we were up for two parts today, a young girl role and then a character part. I caught the eye of one older looking lady and in silent knowing we nodded.

The dance call was really fun and I was happy with my singing so, even though I didn't go through, I was really pleased; every good audition is a little victory. The two actresses that were held back for the part I was up for were lovely ladies that I'd been chatting to whilst we waited but both looked distinctly different to anyone else there - one older lady and one larger and both glorious and talented and deserving. This is panto and you definitely need distinctive looking actors for the roles as they tend to be stock characters harking back comedia dell'arte. I think I am not quite old enough or different looking enough to be seperated from the other girls in their twenties (particularly as I'm short) but there is SO much more competition in that pool. I can't wait to be in the next pool - tanning beds, eclairs and cigarettes and maybe my way forward to speed this up?

'Don't worry Miranda, when everyone starts to leave the profession for other things or to start familes, that's when your time will come' I had said to me once (which was a bit weird as it implied I probably won't have children...). Ironic as my partner and I do discuss it and I even wonder if now is a better time to start so that they are off to school by the time I actually do start to look older and get the parts - but whose to say that I will? It's a fickle business and so many so my friends have dropped out in the past 3 years, so much so that I've been planning a documentary on life after the dream fades (it's not miserable - most are much happier for it and chasing new dreams actually!) You do sometimes stop yourself and go, maybe it isn't any of these reasons...maybe you are just a bit crap. But then I see loads of crap people working in the profession and I figure if they can get a job so can I even if I was pants (that's the spirit isn't it?)

My agent was discussing my headshot with me the other day and thinking we should get me an older looking update to see if that helps. Perhaps it will so I will give it a go, I'm just not sure if women of my age are being represented enough within writing, particularly in musical theatre. I saw a panto casting come up this week that had 1 female role against 6 men?! I'm sure there are new musical writers out there trying to create female parts and I know there are female focused play competitions, but wouldn't it be lovely to not have to point out the importance of half the population being represented fairly in your writing.

It made me think back to a friend of mine being told she should gain weight as she was quirky but too skinny to play the secondry lead roles - WHAT THE HELL?! 'Why can't the part look like whatever you want it to look like' is the first thing that comes to mind on that one, and yet I see this all the time in musical theatre, old and new, if you are not lead character material you need to be quirky or sassy and nothing in between.

I have often thought I would love the secondry character to be the lead - their story seems loads more interesting: how much cooler is Anita to Maria? And Ado Annie is much more interesting to watch that Laurie. What about Tallulah over Blousey - at least we could do without 'Ordinary Fool' then *snoore*. Which roles would you like to see playing the lead in their own musical?

Blousey is not impressed - soz love.