Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Don't tell me you've never heard of Peer Gynt, no really, don't tell me

Know what gets my knickers in a twist? Other people.

Okay I am being mean. It isn't really other people. It's meeting new people. People who I probably will never meet again, not because they are not nice, but simply because of the law of averages. These people are lovely, kind people who give to charities and raise puppies and frolic in fields of golden sunshine. But I'm sorry, if one more of these people asks me in that supremely innocuous, let's get to know each other way, "What is it you do then?" I am going to blow a gasket.

Yes, yes I know! I know what you're going to say, they are only making conversation, they don't even really care - but it is so damn hard to explain to people that I am an actor. How can someone be something when they aren't actually doing it, and especially, with acting, if you haven't done television or film?

You see, when I meet a doctor (which granted aside from my new housemate isn't all that often), I confess I make an assumption. I assume he's a good doctor. When I meet an architect (which granted I never have), I confess there too I make an assumption. I assume he is a good architect. But when one meets an actor, the assumption is the complete opposite. This of course is reasonable. I am a very reasonable person. When people over here ask me if I am American, I am one of the few Canadians who does not get offended. After all there are more Americans out there than Canadians and the accent is almost indistinguishable (no, it really is).

Anyway the reason it is reasonable is because of the nature of celebrity these days. The desire for instant fame. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I want to be a doctor, or famous." And for many people the way to this fame and life of perfectness is through becoming an actor. What is even more depressing is how almost anyone would give up their job, the one they worked years to be promoted to, the one they spent years studying for, the one they spent thousands of dollars to pay for, if some Hollywood director offered them a lead in their major blockbuster (and by the way, props to those of you who wouldn't).

And so, when they meet an actor they assume they are just one of those thousands of wannabees out there. There is little to no way to convince someone who has never seen you perform that you are a good actor short of telling them, "Hey, I'm a good actor" (and that doesn't work either). Especially if after they ask what the actor has done the actor replies, "Well I just finished drama school and have done a few things, profit-share on the fringe." The person will invariably think, "Poor thing must not be that good then. I mean Orlando Bloom got Lord of the Rings right out of his drama school." (okay they probably don't think that last bit, I'm just bitter - but not as bitter as my male colleagues, you should see how they respond to his name).

And then . . . and then!! What makes the answering of the question even more difficult is when you actually are doing a show, but the show is something like, I don't know, a production of Peer Gynt at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington for the month of October.

Because then. . .

"You're doing what?"

"Peer Gynt. It's by Ibsen. Who wrote Hedda Gabler? A Doll's House?"

"I've heard of those ones. What is it about?"

"Well it's the story of one man's life, about him not being himself. He travels . . . there are trolls . . . "

"I see. Where is it?"

"In . . .Islington."

"Ah it's fringe."

"Yes, but it's really professional. All the actors and the director are profess. . .ion. . . al . . ."

"So it's paid."

" . . . not exactly . . ."

Then I go home and cry.

Okay, so maybe there is something to be said in that I shouldn't care what other people think, and I am working on all that and everything, but maybe, while I deal with my psychological issues, in the meantime we could all make a little pact now that when we meet someone new (and even though this is actor specific I can tell you most twenty somethings resent that question equally as much) we could ask something else. Like . . . "Have you ever studied Latin?" I, for one, have not. But I do think it might be cool actually to study Latin. But it would have to be taught in a fun way, I could see it being sort of dry. I think they've translated Harry Potter into Latin, or was it ancient Greek, well I think that could be a fun way of learning it.


For those of you who are interested in finding out what Peer Gynt IS about, do check out the show. You can get information by visiting www.daletk.co.uk and clicking on current productions.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Baby's First Post

Well yes maybe this means I've jumped on the blogging bandwagon, or perhaps it means that I am temping as a receptionist and it is a rather slow day. Or maybe it could be a brilliant combination of both. I dare not assume it has to do with me having anything remotely insightful to say.


Hello and welcome to I Didn't Choose This, the blog where I get to update you on my life as a struggling actress. The name of my blog comes from a very popular saying, at least within the community of struggling artists that I am fortunate enough to call my friends which is "I didn't choose acting, acting chose me". If you think for one instant I want this life, then think again. I come from a very stable upbringing - both my parents were highschool English teachers so proficient in their art that after retirement have gone on to teach the craft of . . .teaching . . . at Queen's University (Ontario, Canada). In fact my entire family is made up of teachers (for more information on teaching in my life and indeed me, please visit my website www.adriennekress.com).

Then why are you an actor you may ask? You seek stability and comfort. Well I don't know. Let's leave it at that. Let's maybe say something profound like I need to act the way I need water, that when I go months without, my soul is parched. But that's flaky - though really a pretty cool analogy written on the spot at my current temping placement.

Ah the art of temping. Yet more instability. But I have to say it is possibly the funniest sort of job I've ever had.

I once had this job ... okay you know those new sort of voice mail services where you talk into the phone? You know, they ask you to say yes or no instead of push a button? Well I worked for this company who programmed such systems and they were trying to make it more efficient. So it was my job to 'teach' the computer how to be smarter. Someone in the company compiled a whole bunch of yes/no audio responses to their service (actual people using the service - never think you're not being listened to, cause I've heard you all!)and they were played back through a computer. If the computer understood what the person was saying, ie if the person said 'Yes' and it wrote 'Yes' then I didn't have to do anything, but if the computer got it wrong, wrote 'no' instead, I would have to correct it. Worked there a week. Got so good I could listen to 1000 yes/no's in 45 minutes. I mean, that's talent. The best thing was when the person would get mad at the system from repeating yes over and over and it not understanding and finally I would hear 'Oh for f*** sake give me a real person!' I understand the pain.

But I digress.

This is long enough.

I'll tell you some more tomorrow.