When Does It Become Typecasting?

I’ve just got a part in my next show. It’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

Now before I go on, I should point out that the last Shakespeare play I was in, I played the part of a servant. Then of course there was my role in the pantomime where apart from the joys of being a dragon I was also, yes, yet another servant; this time a boy. Well it was pantomime after all.

So here I am, fresh from audition, cast as…yes, a servant and (this being Shakespeare) a male one at that.

Now, I’m actually quite happy about this. It’s going to be a lot of fun to do and I intend to enjoy every second; but it does tend to make one wonder.

At what point do I start to question why directors look at me and think ‘servant’ and even more interestingly ‘boy’. I did, admittedly, want to be a boy when I was eleven but nature made it quite clear that I didn’t have the genes for that; or, it turns out, the singing voice, although I guess an alto isn’t the ‘girliest’ of voices either.

Indeed what with my geeky tendencies, short hair, lack of makeup and general failure to wear dresses (unless they are ball gowns) maybe I fit the ‘boy’ mould better than I thought.

Hmmm, maybe I should worry more about ‘servant‘!

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Performing Under Pressure

I always enjoyed doing exams. There’s something tangible to aim for, a time to perform to the best of your ability and then it is over and you can relax.
Exams seem to bring out the best in me, to the extent that I recall being returned one of my marked exam papers in middle school and reading through the neatly written, and ticked as correct, answer to one question and thinking “but I don’t even know that”.

It occurs to me that drama is very similar.

For each play you work, learn and revise but in the end there is one chance to get it right (even where that chance also occurred yesterday and will occur again tomorrow). There is one moment to entertain that audience, many of whom will see only that performance, and what matters is that you give them the best show you can.

There’s also a similar pressure to auditioning. I recently auditioned for some Shakespeare. I’d prepared for the audition, pored over the script, and went in keyed up, wanting to do my very best.
After the audition was over I felt such a wonderful sense of happiness and calm. I’d done my part, and I felt I did myself justice, but now it was down to the director.

So I waited to hear, as I have waited for exam results over the years, untroubled but hopeful.

As it happens, I have in fact been given a ‘bit part’, so that’s another chance to perform under (a little bit of) pressure to come.

I Really Did

So having auditioned for the pantomime, I’ve got a part in the chorus. I’m sure at some point (when rehearsals start) I’ll be wondering “what have I done?” but for now I’m just looking forward to it. Roll on December.

Oh Yes I Did

It may seem like an odd time of year* but I auditioned for a pantomime recently. Now I’ve only seen about three pantomimes in my entire life so I was entirely out of my depth in every way but I was persuaded to give it a go anyway.

When we got to the theatre I felt a moment of panic at the sight of three microphones at the front of the stage but they were quickly cleared away and we got on with the process of reading through several scenes. As usual once I set foot on stage I felt much more comfortable and enjoyed myself greatly.

Still I knew that some singing was going to be required eventually and I was incredibly nervous about it. Finally the microphones were moved back on stage and I was one of the first three asked to get up and sing. We were given printed lyrics and I thanked my lucky stars as the song was “Any Dream Will Do” which was the first song I ever sang with my singing teacher!

Without warm up or even a listen but thankfully with a recording to sing along to the three of us had to launch into it together. Looking at the paper in my hand and trying to ignore the room full of people I concentrated on singing confidently aware that I’d actually sound better that way. I even eventually found enough mental space to look up and smile while singing.

Then we had to sing it again, this time one of us singing a verse at a time. I concentrated on which verse I had to sing and launched into it when my turn came. Bizarrely because my voice was amplified I had the sensation of singing along with myself. I could hear what I was singing and yet it didn’t sound like my voice at all, so amazingly didn’t freak me out.

Thankfully I sat down at the end to listen to the next group of three victims singers.

However we were not yet done. In the same groups we had to get up again and sing another song, this time Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years”, a song I’d never heard (heck, I haven’t even heard of Christina Perri!). Somehow I managed to sort of sing along to this and when it came to the solos (this time one line at a time)  I decide that I might as well go for the ‘making the song my own’ approach and sing the words in whatever tune seemed to fit and not worry if it wasn’t exactly like the original. To be fair we were helped by the fact that several of our audience did know the song and therefore sang along with some of it too.

Now I’m not expecting to get a part and frankly right now that bothers me not at all. Mostly I’m just thrilled that I managed to stand up and sing in front of people without it going too badly wrong and also perhaps more amazingly, I actually enjoyed it a little bit.

It’s so unlike me that I’m left wondering did I really do that?

*Although it’s always panto season in our house