Monthly Archives: December 2012

December

It’s three weeks to 12.21.12 or to put it the way we used to say it back in the UK; 21.12.12. If the The Mayan Calendar really does mean some super-transformational event like the planet going pole dancing, or if there’s a humungous magnetic shift, then all our small concerns will fade away.

Meanwhile, I’m unemployed. 

Unemployment has struck in the same month as the school where I trained has been elevated. Henceforth it is to be called:

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

The inclusion of the world Royal in the title is significant. Even though our graduates include: Olivier, Dench, Pinter, all the Redgraves, and many other distinguished names, the only British theatre school known in the USA was RADA. Maybe that all changes now.

It’s always been a peculiar irony how well the British aristocracy and royalty plays in America – and I cite here the naughtiness that is Downton Abbey – really, to pass off a soap opera in period as a quality costume drama is a marketing masterpiece, worth watching for that alone. But doesn’t it prove the enduring appeal to The American Republic with its theoretical social mobility, of a simpler world where everyone knew their place and dressed accordingly?

Or is the charm really all based on cream teas, and cricket, and good tailoring?

Years ago Simon Callow wrote a book called Being An Actor which did a certain amount for his career, and in which he announced himself as spokesman for the working conditions of the actors of his generation. The book inspired a hugely successfully parody called I, An Actor! authored by Nicholas Crane (nom de plume of Nigel Planer) and published a few years later, the parody extending as far as a televised master-class in how to be a TV weather anchorperson. 

Again, when Anthony Sher gave us Year of the King, in which he recorded his views, experiences, and insights while preparing for and playing Richard 111, an actor of my acquaintance intended to write a parody called Year of the Spear, about his experiences playing the guy who stands at the back.

Callow’s book defines the usual starting condition for the actor as unemployment. And it’s true. Employment is intermittently continuous in the same way that one who believes in re-incarnation might define life as an out-of-death experience. All actors experience a lull from time to time, even if they’ve been fortunate enough to work a lot – which I have – although this time, the gears really do seem to have stopped.

So, to while away the time, I’ve written a book of my own. 

It’s a slim volume called: An Actor Walks into China, and it should be available in February of 2013. So for that among other reasons, I am hoping that we’ll get beyond 12.21.12.