Where to start? As you probably recall from the last blog, I took August off, ostensibly to complete the fourth draft of a play that I have been writing called Cleo and Tone. I also needed a rest from my office job, which entails new business development. It can be quite draining, but only takes up two days of my week and keeps the wolf from the door when the god of actors is not looking kindly at me. I have been doing it on and off, in between acting jobs, for about seventeen years now, and my fellow actors provide me with the energy and general interaction which we artists often lack, when out of work. Painters, writers, sculptors all have their metaphorical canvases so are able to create immediately. Actors need words given to them, other actors with whom to mix and usually a director. This can be difficult, if not impossible to recreate in one’s own little home. The Actor’s Centre serves some of that purpose, but nothing beats getting a genuine acting role in a brilliant play.
Some of you may already have been bombarded by my trumpetting the news on Twitter and Linked In, for which I apologise. But this is my blog, and if you do not like it, change the channel. The bunting is up, the brass band has started playing because I have news to announce. I have been offered and after a good think, I have accepted the role of Gertrude in Hamlet, showing in the first two weeks of December at the Park Theatre, London. I am delighted. In the auditions, I worked with some very talented people and was thrilled to see several of them in the cast list. So the bar has been raised. The rehearsals begin in October interspersed with everybody’s differing schedules and culminate in a concentrated time during November. The director has already shown us a glimpse of where he is setting it, and what sort of research it may involve, and while I am not going to spoil it by telling you, I think it could be very interesting indeed. From my angle, the role of Gertrude, whom we know to be Hamlet‘s mother, has been played by the greats, Glen Close, Julie Christie and so forth. I am terrified but thrilled.
My next announcement, is that, as per the first paragraph, I did finish the fourth draft of my play, Cleo and Tone, and intend to put it on as a rehearsed reading somewhere, perhaps at the RADA, perhaps somewhere else. If there are directors/producers reading this who would like to have a look and know where they could put it on for a rehearsed reading, please get in touch with my agents, Sharkey and Trigg who are on the web if you google them. Bear in mind, that I wrote it with the role of Cleo being played by my good self. So, if you are a director and producer and do not know my work, firstly look at my showreel, which is also on the Sharkey and Trigg website, or come and see me be Gertrude at the Park Theatre.
Reading back, this blog is one load of shameless self plugging after the next, but since my contacts do not extend to publicists, the lady must strum her own guitar. Besides, as I have said, it’s my blog, my rules and in this little Queendom, I rule. If you don’t like it, stop reading it and irritating yourself over it. Find something else to read. You have plenty of choice and this still is a free country, just about.
This summer’s delicious weather that we were treated to over July brought about such an enjoyable sensation of going with the flow. Both the Captain and I have been establishing our masterplans regarding our living circumstances, in addition to our schedules of self employment, his in the property empire that he is building, mine in the writing and business development side. The train drew to a unexpected halt in August regarding any acting roles for either of us, which went hand in hand with the weather’s summer groove turning swiftly to an early Autumn.
The Captain did however have a thoroughly enjoyable long weekend in Portugal and I had the joy of spending a long weekend with my parents. The first and last nights included evenings spent with my father, with whom I chewed the fat (and guzzled his wine), but the middle nights were at the luxury of Grayshott Hall with my mother. This is the sometimes bi-annual treat that I receive as a gift from my mother, which we have always enjoyed, especially as we are in each other’s company in relaxed circumstances. This time we did have some minor reservations.
The highlights were that we swam in the outdoor pool first thing in the morning, steam sweeping off the surface of the water revealing the well tended orchard nearby. The apples seemed close enough to touch, with the promise of their tastiness later on in the year. Every night, I had the joy of a glass of Champagne to accompany our scrabble game before supper. Together we relished watching Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I had seen but enjoyed again, on our last night, in their private cinema.
Our quibble was that it used to be a place where health was emphasized, but you could choose to obey or not, with open possibilities on the menu of ordering a steak if you fancied it. This is no longer the case. The food was mainly vegetarian, and almost entirely carbohydrate free. We were pretty sure a type of laxative was in the water, so that while we left the place clear skinned and cleansed entirely, we both could have done without the restless digestion that we suffered during the stay. We have decided that next time we will go somewhere that is a spa hotel that bears a non-dietting customer, who likes food, in mind.
Before I sign off, in referring to The Grand Budapest Hotel, my mother observed that it was inspired by Stefan Zweig. She had been made to read him in high school about sixty-five years ago. He was loved in Germany and Austria apparently. As popular as Kafka, I’m told. I had never heard of him, and neither had Wes Anderson. An article in the Telegraph reveals that Mr Anderson combined Zweig’s own life with his dream-like tales he had written to create this surreal gem of a film. Having never heard of him, his name then cropped up again, when watching Dr James Fox’s superb first episode of Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds in which he focusses the first part on Austria in the year 1908. This is wonderful viewing, with Stefan Zweig, Freud, Kokoschka and others being included in this exceptional time of creativity. I cannot wait to see his take on 1920’s Paris. It’s on BBC Four. Watch it if you are as mad about anthropological culture as I am. Hotel India on BBC 2 is also worth watching as it examines the workings of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. While it is gorgeous, even if I were the richest person in the world, surely I would draw a line at paying £9000 per night. I would, wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t I?