“Are you an actor?”

Over the last few months, I have spent some time filming with Kanga Reel Productions for their next short film, Marty’s Project, wherein I play an irritatingly enthusiastic young man.  Each day of filming has presented its own unique challenges (not least because I find the differences between stage and film utterly baffling), but one encounter has particularly lodged in my mind.  On this day, we were filming various exterior shots, and in addition to the joys of remembering words, managing to stay in shot and not look directly into the camera lens, we had passers-by adding interest to the proceedings.

In one of the day’s final shots, I had to bound up to the other characters and encourage them to hurry up as we all gathered outside a convention centre.  This was proving tricky, as I was far too far away from them to hear their dialogue, so had to be cued for my appearance visually from quite a distance.  As I was waiting, a couple of teenage girls came up to me and asked what we were doing.  I explained about the film, and they looked suitably unimpressed, as teenagers are required by law to do.  After a moment, though, one of them asked in hushed tones “are you an actor?”  I think what she meant, of course, was “are you famous?”, since fame seems to be the most important commodity to the young.    Sadly, for her, I am not even a Z-list celebrity – I have been spotted in a bookshop by someone who saw me on stage before, but that doesn’t quite qualify for big-time name recognition.  I didn’t really get to answer her question, as I was called into action at that point, but it stuck with me.

I’m not famous.  I’m not (usually) paid for performing.  But on reflection, yes, I am an actor.  It is at least as important a part of my identity as being a librarian, probably more so.  It may not be healthy, but I feel most alive when I’m involved with theatre, whether on the stage or dressed in black in the wings.  The combination of adrenaline, camaraderie, enjoyment and sense of accomplishment is unbeatable.  In both areas of my life, I strive to do the best I possibly can – performing arts may well be my hobby, but it is important to me to be the best that I can possibly be in each new role.   It’s not easy (as anyone who has had to deal with my backstage panics knows), but it feels like what I’m meant to do.  Having had two months away from the rehearsal room, I really miss it and am eager to start on my next theatrical projects.  It may be odd (and it sounds unbelievably pretentious!), but I think that while being a librarian is what I do, being an actor is what I am.  It is my passion and my gifting – doing it for fun rather than for a living doesn’t make that any less true.

  1. November 4th, 2010

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