Tuesday, 24 September 2013

What a day!

Some people say blogging is no different to writing in a diary so is therefore indulgent.  I disagree.  Many bloggers explore and develop a theme, sometimes cleverly, so as with much digital media it’s different strokes for different folks.

Today, however, I confess my post is little more than an enlarged journal entry.  

The day started with fog.  You wouldn’t believe how white and wintry it felt.  I had the central heating on for hours before 11am, drying the washing as I sipped coffee and addressed miscellaneous emails and tinkled on the piano which my lovely friend Adam has kindly loaned me for the winter after my last keyboard gave up the ghost.  By lunch-time the air cleared and I had the windows wide open as I searched for summer clothes again.  

 Around 2pm I was trotting down the Kings Road enjoying the designer shops, when the second stranger in less than a week stopped me unexpectedly, saying: “excuse me, I love the colour of your hair”.  This man was also a red-head, keen to explain his restaurant policy was to offer red-heads a free drink.  Well, can’t argue with that.  But as I was on my way to an audition, which have been rather thin on the ground lately, I had to take a rain-check.  It made me smile anyway.  (And he was more stylish than the guy who spun me on the pavement late last Friday only to say: “ooh, I love a ginger… do you want to come with us?” and pointed to his straggly collection of drunken friends.)

After a happy exchange in Chelsea I skipped off to the appointed venue and from 2.30pm to 4.30pm took part in what could only be described as a workshop.  A dozen actor/singer/musicians worked with the Director around various themes, musical and dramatic, to elicit our ability to play a diverse range of characters.  It was great fun – challenging and stimulating.  We played theatrical games, improvised, moved around the space working scenes, imitating animals, and doing jazz-vocal scat.  I far prefer being ‘put through the hoops’ and really working my craft, than arriving with a ‘party piece’ which may or may not hit the mark in five minutes.  It was tiring, hot work on a surprisingly sunny day for late September in London, but I felt one hundred percent in the moment.  That doesn’t mean every improvisation was balanced or successful, but it does mean I was relaxed and in my element.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process. 
After waiting outside the theatre for fifteen minutes I then discovered I had been recalled early evening to meet the Musical Director.  So I scooted back up the Kings Road to relax in one of its many appealing cafes and watch the beautiful people walk by.   It was hard to resist the pull of the pub, in the lovely warm afternoon a cold beer would have been perfect, but I couldn’t possibly drink alcohol before a performance.  Eventually I returned to the theatre and went back into the studio, to sing a prepared jazz ballad and play the piano.  Then we improvised around a jazz chart.  I was asked about my ability to bluff/make-do on various other instruments… which I tried to answer with a balance of honesty and optimism… and then we rehearsed a new scene.  I had been playing a fox and an owl in the afternoon session, so was amused to now be playing a jazz-singing walrus!  The script said this walrus was glamorous so I searched for some husky, sexy sounds and by the smiles in the room things went rather well.  Again I enjoyed myself.  The script is new, imaginative, perfectly geared for a young audience, and probably plays well to my varied strengths as an actor/musician.  Yet the point of the audition was to flex my creative muscles, and by 6.45pm, when I left the theatre for the last time, I felt it had done just that.  What happens next is anyone’s guess – I’ve long since learnt if you’re a walrus and they want a whale, or you’re an apple and they want a pear, there ain’t a thing you can do about it.  That’s showbiz.   It was, anyway, a fulfilling afternoon.  
Back up the Kings Road I found myself at the door of the restaurant where I’d been spotted by the lover of red-heads.  The second I appeared Butch called out to me and within minutes I was embraced, introduced and made feel part of the friendliest bunch of Italians I’ve met since leaving Tuscany.  Almost immediately I was given my complimentary G &T… then I was in the kitchen meeting the Italian/Australian chef Domenico, and his assistant Danny (with kisses all round)… then I was meeting the restaurateur’s extended family (including the nice, single brother?!)… then the woman who had booked the large rear table for her book launch (an occasion I took straight to heart)…all the while loving the chance to practise my Italian… and somehow those exchanges morphed into more kissing, more greetings, and a seat at the bar eating exquisite seafood pasta, drinks, and a cross-over conversation between a stand-up-comedian who was barracking for his football team, Swindon, playing against Chelsea on the television, and a rather boastful police-officer who wanted me to know that if he wasn’t waiting for his date "I would really like to count every one of your freckles”.  It was just that kind of day. 
Isn’t London lovely when the sun is shining and everyone feels happy?  I certainly bumped into people in the same mood as me, and post any audition (like post a good hair-cut) I’m always a bit pumped and loved every minute of the play, the flirtation, and the food, wine and bonhomie.  For those few hours – as with the play as owl, fox and jazz-singing walrus – I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  And I wandered back down Beaufort Street to admire the Albert Bridge shining on the Thames and felt all was right with the world.
Tomorrow I go back to being a responsible Project Manager, though happily that’s dealing with a new entertainment company, so as with many an artiste it’s one hat off and one hat on and I’ll be all the better for the variety. 
To prove it’s been a remarkable day, I then returned home to an annoying email about a potential new contract which I’ve been carefully considering for several weeks but just this moment decided to decline… and another email, out of the blue, from an international recruitment company saying “your CV is excellent and well-suited to blah blah” and asking me if I am interested in a senior event management job for nine months on the other side of the world.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when you’re not in favour, and your luck is not in, you can’t even get arrested… when things change for the better, everything comes at once and suddenly you feel you have some bargaining power.  I won’t let it go to my head.  But it has been a good day.
Buonanotte.  Sogni d’oro! 

         Frantoio, 397 King's Rd  London SW10 0LR (Ph: 020 7352 4146)

         For the children's show The Ballad of Rudy book online at: www.chelseatheatre.org.uk