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Advice


I don't follow my own advice, but I love giving it to other people.

There's also a bunch of books out there, what would you say to your fifteen year old self - some of it funny, some of it pithy, some of it both. So here is a list of things I would say to a kid in school, who wanted to be an actor. They apply to me now, and I try, but it's hard.

You need to start now. It doesn't matter how old you are, or whether or not you're enjoying your young adultness. You need to go out and seek productions. University, amateur dramatics, filming stuff with friends, it doesn't matter what. Get yourself out there, create new groups, be as present as you possibly can be.

Secondly, your HSC isn't important if you want to be an actor. Now don't get me wrong, you don't want to fail. But the amount of time you spend trying to get the best possible mark that you can, vs the amount of time you're currently spending looking for acting work is ridiculously skewed towards a piece of paper which means absolutely nothing to me, ten years down the track. Whereas, if I had done a few professional things back then, it could have opened some doors which would have led to a lot more.

You should also look into getting an agent. Whether or not you actually get one, put yourself out there as a young looking kid that can act. They haven't made a film of Ender's Game because they haven't found a kid who looks under ten who could do the role until now. And this is a book that's been around for a few decades and won numerous awards.

Your youth is an asset. But you need to also have the experience and wherewithal to use it. So - go out and find some acting classes. When you're not auditioning and not in plays, go and learn more and Shakespeare, and Stanislavski, and anything else you can. Learn how to sing and dance and move, and always push yourself as an actor.

As soon as you start getting paid for your craft, you have to stop giving it away to people for free. I know, it's really tempting to just keep doing amateur stuff whenever you're not being paid, but it promotes bad habits, it takes up vast quantities of time, and you won't be learning anything new.

There is of course an addendum to this, and this is something which you should carry with you into your adult career, and something I'm doing now. Everything you do should give you something. Money is a great thing to get, but it's not everything. Have you been in a musical before? No? Go audition for one. (You may need a few singing lessons first.) What about a music video? Or Shakespeare? Or a play you've done before but with an excellent actor? Or in an accent? Anything you do, make sure that afterwards you can write a few hundred words about what you learned and what you did wrong and why it could have been better. This is actually a great habit to get into for every project you ever do. And a good way to reflect on ways to improve into the future.

And my last piece of advice - at the moment, before I think of any more anyway - is to do everything. I haven't. I've only been an actor, director, production manager, costume designer, lighting and sound op, sound recorded, set painter, stage manager and script writer. There are many more things I could have done, and many more of the things I have done I should have done more of. In this age of not huge budgets for the arts, you'll often be in shows, both professional, amateur, and most definitely in that weird stepping place between the two, where you'll need to wear at least three hats in order to get something to the stage or screen. This isn't a bad thing, it gives you a grounding in more aspects of theatre and makes you more employable. And, who knows, you might discover that something else is actually a lot more fun than the acting you're doing at the moment. I know a lot of people who have started out in one area and, through need, ended up somewhere else which they've now turned into an enjoyable, professional career. So play around, and have fun.

Oh, and all of this costs a lot of money. So the sooner you start, when you're using your parents budgets as opposed to yours, the better.

PS - Stand up for yourself. There's a fine line to walk between being too arrogant and being too meek. Work out which you're more predisposed to and then make sure you don't just become the opposite out of fear of yourself.

Back in London


I've taken the last week off. It seemed like the sensible thing to do - after all, I've had to move three times, and have decided to get over an illness, and have just finished two years of constantly moving, so a week seems like a small price to pay of not really going anywhere or doing anything.

Today though is the day I need to start getting my shit together. I'm going to be rather disappointed in myself if I don't manage that.

To recap though. I have now finished touring with White Horse. Which has been amazing, in general. I've tried, and generally succeeded, in being incredibly positive about the whole experience. In general terms anyway. Specifically I've spent quite a lot of time, especially over the last two or three months, alternating around being lonely and sad, and angry.

Touring - living and working - with only three people for a year straight is hard. Much harder than I at first had thought. I've been very lucky this last year in that none of the people I was touring with - in the last six months anyway - were insane. They've all been great, genuine, chilled out people. Unfortunately, I've not had a lot in common with them. Which I've not really had to deal with since I was eleven and at school. Since then I've always had a modicum of people around me who see the world through the same tint I do, and not having that for the last six months has been really hard for me.

Especially since deviating like so seems to be my fault, and not something which just is.

But, we've survived, pulled through, and I'm now somewhere I can start chilling out and creating the next chapter of my life.

London is a fun place to be an Australian in. I've got a lot of friends here - though it's hard to catch up with any of them. London has this magnetic pull of busyness, everything needs to be sorted days if not weeks in advance, and doing something new is a hassle and effort. I've managed to get over that point with a bunch of my friends, but it's taken most of the week to do so - everyone's sick or away, of course.

I feel envious of those people coming back from White Horse to visit their families.

Fortunately for me, I'm in my Uncles Flat at the moment for the next two months. Two months of rent free chilling out, hopefully by the end of which I'll have a new project on the go. If not, I may just go back to Australia, which is a lovely place, and in which I should be able to find some work as well, which would be nice.

I'm sure I'll go stir crazy in a week or so, especially given the terrible hot water system, and lack of pressure in the shower here (I may end up occasionally showering at friends houses, or joining a local gym), but for the mean time, I'm content.

Holy Flying Circus


Amazing program by BBC4 - it's a kinda of comic documentary, or comic historical retelling of the interesting things that happened when Life of Brian was released for the first time in the UK.

And of course, having watched it, I've now decided to go watch the original televised debate, and it's very interesting.

The position of the Pythons is that they were originally going to make a film about Jesus, called Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory. But then after looking at the material and writing some stuff they discovered that Jesus, whether or not he was the son of god, is a very respectful and wise teacher. And that lampooning a guy who's message is "Be excellent to one another" isn't actually very easy or necessarily fun, because it goes from being political satire and comedy into just american frat humour.

So instead they focussed on Brian, the reluctant leader, and made a film about that. Which the two Catholic chaps who debated with them on TV absolutely failed to notice, and assumed that Brian was actually Jesus.

One of the Christian chaps - a comedian by the name of Malcom Muggeridge - said at one point that he had spoken to Mother Theresa, and she had said that the difference between what she did and what social workers did was this: a social worker serves her fellow man for an idea, she serves her fellow man for a person (Jesus). And if that person were to be somehow discredited or didn't exist, then everything that she had done would be meaningless.

This... baffles me. I appreciate new age Christianity, where people perform good deeds because they genuinely want to do them, or feel that they should help other people. But I like to think that they do not do this merely because they are Christian. I'm not Christian, and I have no problem with being a nice, caring, helpful guy (obviously not on the order of Mother Theresa, but still).

The idea that if ones good works are performed just for Jesus means that one does not necessarily care about one's fellow man. And that the only relationship we can have with anyone needs to be done through the auspices of organised religion.

I recently read "The Second Coming", by John Niven - which portrays Jesus as a relaxed hippy who just goes around telling everyone to be nice to one another. Reminds me a bit of Bill and Ted. I like this counter culture phenomenon, it gives me a bit of hope.

How Not To Act


Some few weeks ago, I and the rest of my group watched Shutter Island. If you're not familiar with it, go watch it then come back and keep reading cause I'm going to spoil major parts of the plot.

Basically, the main character (DiCaprio) is wandering around an insane asylum, thinking that he's a government inspector and trying to find evidence of wrong doing. Turns out, he's actually an inmate, and they've set up a giant role playing exercise in order to disabuse him of his fantasies.

Now for most people, this isn't going to affect their normal lives much. What if, however, you're in a play. With two adults and two "children" (in this case played by a 25 and 27 year old as well).

And what if, for a lark before the show, you talk about the kids being the psychiatrists and the adults being mental patients. You know, to spice things up a little.

What happens, basically, is the two guys, during their first scene together where they're talking about mum being gone and how they both miss her, absolutely break down, cannot look at each other without laughing, and eventually are shaking so much that they drop half the lines and just leave.

Occasionally I'm reminded how silly acting is. And occasionally how hard it is, how easily one can get sidetracked and ruin a good performance by just being workmanlike, saying the lines and not bumping into the furniture. And, sometimes, like today, I'm reminded of both. And I end up putting in the worst performance of my life.

When actors laugh, it is not humour, but hysteria.

Jun. 29th, 2012


What is an alcoholic?

The simple answer is someone who drinks too much. Of course that's different for different countries. Too much for an American or an englishmen will be well below the daily acceptable intake of an Australia, Russian or Scot (two of which ethnic groups I am part of).

But then think of an alcoholic, someone who has managed to eke his way up out of the pit of despair and habit and inebriation of his youth into a sober minded adult, who then falls off the wagon. What is he? Was he a recovering alcoholic? Was he an alcoholic the entire time who just managed to overcome his natural urges for a brief period? What if he had never started drinking again, would he still be, deep down, an alcoholic?

Natural, I am sure, is a controversial word. It's not natural to have to hide oneself in a bottle of something which takes rather a long time and a lot of effort to make properly. Alcohol rarely occurs in nature, in a state that we can drink. Though I've heard of elephants who imbibe on occasion and then go drink rampaging through the local village much to the chagrin of the unfortunately sober minded occupants. But it is natural to want escapism, and alcohol is a very easy way to do so.

Consider, for example the man before you.

Well, not before you. You are after all reading this on a computer screen. Or laptop. Or even ipad or smartphone, on the way to work, curled up in bed, or at the office. There is no inebriate in front of you per se (unless you're on the last train home in which case the chances are incredibly more likely).

But picture in your minds I a chap. Lying on a couch - wait no, lying is the wrong word. Lounging. Reclining. Fully aware of his inebriation, and positively revelling in it. Revelling in it so much that he's just pulled out his laptop, and is now trying to engage it upon you.

Alcoholic is a state of mind. It is the need for alcohol when one cannot deal with the world. Often this is due to stress, though occasionally it's just due to laziness or apathy. The world is not happy enough for me, says the alcoholic (in this case myself). It is not gay, it is not bright, it in fact contains many things which sadden me. So I will seek my solace in blessed beer or, in this case wine, because it pulls my attention away from the things I do not like.

It also makes me either happy or sad in and of itself - through a random twist of fate - and either of these things is preferable to me just being sad because of me. Now at last I have a valid excuse to get me through the day, and make me happy by excusing my sadness.

How Do You Feel?


I feel constricted. I feel as if there's is something in my back which, every time I sit down, wants to burst out and come free. (I recently read The Magicians which is why this particular image comes to mind.)

I feel that I want to do something big and angry and physical, that I want to enjoy my body being alive, that I want to fly higher, longer, faster.

I do not feel like having sex. That is completely the wrong type of release.

Nor do I feel like running. There's not enough goal, no huge pay off. And yes I know about endorphin highs and those people who manage to stay on them all the time, but I want an endorphin high from something which is more physical and competitive than just running.

I want to pick up a sword and fight someone. To enjoy the risk and the camraderie and the skill which I have in fencing. To push myself beyond my limits, do things I didn't think I was capable of for the sheer enjoyment of doing them.

And I can't, because, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Germany, I cannot think of something I can do which will satisfy these urges in me.

And so instead I sit, and drink, and try not to scream.

Breaking News: Germany Still Good


I'm leaving in two weeks. It's a bit strange, the country I've been living in for the last two years, or just under rather, and I'll probably not be coming back for any similar length of time again.

There is always something happening in Germany. We stayed in the Black Forest recently, and by chance, at the base of the hill we were halfway up, there was a music and beer festival on the last night. (They also had a schnapps well - you put money in a box and then poured yourself some schnapps. I cannot imagine such a thing happening anywhere else.) By and by, any kind of celebration in Germany will involve beer, and the drinking thereof.

And the reason that cider is so hard to find here is that apple products are protected. Hence it's hard to get them in without paying large amounts of duties and taxes, and this raises the price so much that there's no point in buying any.

Last weekend I went to Zurich to visit a friend, Dave. It was... absolutely lovely. Truly. He's working at google there, and gave me a tour of the offices (which are the nicest offices to work in throughout Europe, or so I'm told) as well as showing me generally around Zurich. If it wasn't so expensive, I'd want to spend a lot more time there.

Also, while talking to some of his mates on the saturday night, and realising how horribly wealthy they were, I decided that I have totally picked the wrong career path. I guess I'll just have to keep pushing to become rich and famous enough that I can go to places like Zurich on a whim for a week or so.

Yeah, good luck on that.

Money isn't everything, I know, but it's a great enabler.

Dave and I spent most of the weekend just kind of chatting - about girls, politics, geek stuff, we played some board games (which was awesome), everything really. It's so nice to have someone whom I can relate to and click with on that kind of level. I don't think that's happened since I've been in Europe, though some people have come close.

It also made me think about what I'm doing, and what I want to do. Am I going to be an actor my entire life? Or director? Or go into lots of other things? He seemed to think that I had marketable skills whereas his were harder to pin down with any specificality. I humbly disagreed. But then the grass is always greener.

It's nice as well to see somebody who lives completely in the present moment, but in a way which I can relate to. I look forward to seeing him when he comes to the UK in three or so weeks. His girlfriend maybe coming as well, and she seems pretty cool - going for NIDA/WAAPA/all the other random schools out there.

Which reminds me, I really need to get my act together in writing out a one and two year gameplan - where I'm going, what I'm doing, what fallback positions I'm going to have.

I'm going to be in London for two months, spending wisely I hope. It'll be entirely possible for me to blow through a hell of a lot of money, but I'll try and restrain myself.

I also have to choose between my cousin's 50th (in Scotland, great people) and my Barker ten year reunion. If only they were in opposite orders.

PS - More on Zurich later, I promise.

Definitions: Frustration


A girl whom you really like, who you live with, telling you that for the first time in ages she's become incredibly horny, and wishes there was a guy around to sleep with.

On A Naked Girl


The other day I went to the sauna at Erding. Which is, by and by, amazing - there are slides and pools, and the largest sauna area in Europe (allegedly).

And as I went into the sauna area, which by and by has a huge pool with a bar in it as well, a towel wrapped around myself, a girl emerged from the water.

She was by far and away one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen.

This is not to state that I suddenly was very glad that I had my towel around me. There was no instant erotic reaction associated with this. I was just dumbfounded for a second, paralysed in shock as she, much like Venus (and yes I know how stereotypical that is), water cascading down her let's face it amazing body, rose up in front of me.

And I, fool that I am didn't even blush, just glanced away, not wanting to make a scene, or make things awkward.

Try though I might, I didn't see her again, and probably never will.

What I should have done of course is apologised for staring, let her know that I did in fact think she was one of the most attractive women I had ever laid eyes upon, and then perhaps offered to buy her a drink, or just left it at that if she wasn't interested in talking.

These things I did not do. And I will regret not doing them for at least a little while longer.

Because I don't want to see pretty girls and imagine, I'd like to think I'm confident enough and brave enough to take them off a pedestal and get to know them as people. And strong enough not to be scared more by an approach than by being rebuffed.

It is harder when we're all naked though.

Naked Girls and Hitler


Alternate Title: What I Did This Weekend

Alternate Alternate Title: That Previous Title was a little Misleading, I didn't "Do" Naked Girls. Or Hitler. That Shit is Nasty.

My mother showed up this weekend, to come say hi, tell me all about her trip to Turkey, and show off how much more of my inheritance she's spending. This is a running gag between us, and isn't nearly as mercenary as it sounds... especially when she's buying big expensive items which I'm going to get in lieu of money anyway.

So today we decided to go to Dachau - or rather, the concentration camp at Dachau. Auschwitz at least is just a camp (it was the name of the town as well, but after the war they changed it back to the original Polish) but Dachau the town always has to live with the stigma of Dachau the concentration camp.

We didn't learn a lot about the holocaust at school. I think this was mainly an Australian thing - we did Australian history from 1788 - 1901 around three times (convicts, settlers, gold rush, genocide) and a little of the two world wars (Gallipoli, Kokoda, Tobruk) but we hardly ever covered anyone else's involvement in the world at the time. Hell, I didn't even know about the reunification of Germany until a couple of years before I came here. Though that at least is a recent enough innovation that when I was at school it hadn't yet been termed as history.

So while I was aware of the six million or so Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Russians, political prisoners etc who died in the camps during the second world war, it was pretty much a footnote in our textbooks. We never got to actually try to get to grips with the holocaust in a school setting.

Of course, being me, since school I've educated myself a lot about it. Apart from films like It's a Wonderful Life and Schindler's List, there is also the huge resources available in Encyclopedias and on the Internet (specifically but not limited to Wikipedia) with which one can discover things.

So when I eventually came to Germany, it was with the knowledge of the terrible things that have happened, and also knowing how the modern nation coped with it.

Why did I go to Dachau then? This is something I was thinking as I was walking around it. It's one thing to read about the tens of thousands of prisoners who died here, who were cremated and their ashes dumped. About the mass graves and the execution wall, and the incredibly cramped conditions that people lived in. But it's another thing entirely to walk around and see it.

Or... is it? Dachau as it is now, while being an excellent memorial and reminder of the sins of the past and the cruelty and inhumanity of man etc etc, is radically different to the Dachau of the war. Sure, the walls are still there, as is the administration building, and the gas chamber (which was never used apparently but which I felt more sobering than much of the rest of the camp) and crematoriums, but it's surrounded on the outside by beautiful trees and a scene of peace.

I understand why this is. The people who died there deserve their peace, and the survivors (those that are still alive, of which I don't think will be many any more) certainly don't want to return to the camp in the same state that they left it. But can we, as visitors, truly experience the horror or the understanding which could be conveyed to us from walking through such an informative park?

There isn't a good solution to this. Certainly a tacky holocaust experience like the London Dungeons would be in incredibly poor taste. But there has to be something which at least gives someone the understanding of what Dachau felt like without having to ask them to read large amounts of text.

After all, I did that at home. And garnered almost as much from that as I did walking through the place.

I'm sure that other people would have been more affected from seeing the juxtaposition of Dachau now, with lots of English and Americans (as well as the large amounts of Germans) walking through with their kids, compared to the Dachau we were seeing and reading about on information boards and in the museum. But to me it just cheapened the experience. It made it a little unreal, put another layer between myself and the tragedy.

Which I guess is where films like The Pianist and Schindler's List come in.

Naked story tomorrow. I don't think it fits at the end of this.