Friday, January 12, 2007

I Got Three Free Newspapers!

I had another audition, yesterday afternoon. On Wednesday, I received an email from the casting director for this TV drama. I had been booked for a 5PM audition, but when I read the email, it advised to arrive thirty minutes prior to the audition appointment. Having arranged to leave the restaurant a half hour early, I started worrying that this wouldn't be early enough to make it to central London by 4:30PM. Thinking how best to re-negotiate with the Restaurant Manager, so I could leave at 2:30, I finally approached him on Thursday and offered to work through my lunch break, in exchange for an earlier departure. He agreed, on the condition that enough of the work was done to enable Pritam, the Nepalese guy who helps me between 2:30 and 3:30, to finish on his own. That was a hard condition to meet, as the Head Chef had me peeling onions for an hour that morning, so I was really behind.
I worked hard and managed to get caught up, while missing out on my free afternoon meal. I ended up staying till 2:45, before I thought things were at the point where I could leave Pritam on his own. After changing clothes and walking to my car, it was practically 3PM before I got on the M3 towards London. Fortunately, traffic wasn't too bad and I managed to make it to where I park my car by 3:30PM. That left me with an hour to walk to the Tube Station, take the Tube to St. James Park, and find the address where the audition was being held. Things went my way again, as St. James Park turned out to be only five Tube stops from where I get the Tube, at Earls Court. I made it to the offices where the casting was being held by 4PM; a half hour early. Yeah, me early...that's a new one.
I was directed to a lounge where other hopeful actors and actresses waited. An assistant greeted me, in the lounge, and gave me a casting form and release to fill out. As I was early, she said she hoped I didn't mind waiting. Waiting I can do, I was just relieved to have made it there in time. Looking for a good place to sit, I picked a table where two guys were already sitting. One of them was a large, very muscular, black man, who looked like a body builder. The other one was a very short, thin, white guy, with dark hair. A few moments after I sat down, a forth person joined our table. This last addition was a moderately attractive woman, solidly in her thirties. She managed to start filling out her forms faster than I was. I noticed she opened a planner which had conversion formula in it. The casting form asked for our height and weight in metric measures. Oh for Pete's sake! I don't really do metric. I can deal deal with buying groceries in metric, as I just have to compare one item labeled metrically, with another. I'm still pissed off that the EU mandated that Britain adopt metric measurements for retailing, as I preferred pounds and ounces. Now I had to figure out how many bloody centimeters six feet and a half inch are. I waited for the woman to get past that part, then diplomatically, I asked if I could borrow her conversion table. She agreed and I now know that six feet and half an inch equals 184.15 centimeters.
Suddenly, the woman asked us what color her eyes are, so she could answer the eye color question. What the...? How could a thirty something woman not know what color her own eyes are? The little white guy said they were green...ish. The black guy countered with hazel. I wanted a look. The lighting wasn't that conducive. I tried looking with and without my glasses. "Grey-green," I suggested tentatively. They didn't look hazel, to me.
"Today, my eyes are green," she said. We all laughed at this. This sort of broke the tension and we all started talking. The black guy was ex-military and worked as some sort of engineer for BT (originally known as British Telecom). The little white guy also worked for BT, but at a desk. He and the black guy were friends, it turned out. Green eyes never told us what she did, but started asking the two guys from BT for advice about a problem with her phone. I concentrated on finishing my paperwork. Once I finished, I was able to join in the banter more. Somehow we started talking about writing. I told them I write this blog and let Green Eyes know she was going to be mentioned. She seemed more interested in talking with the other two. Hey, they aren't going to put you in a blog, sweetheart. The engineer said he had started writing several books, but never finished any of them. Green Eyes told us about some software she bought, which provides a template for writing a novel. I prefer writing it all myself, thank you very much. I asked her if the store which sells her software considers her their best customer, as this was the second software program she mentioned. In the course of the conversation, it started to occur to me that the little white guy was gay. I wonder how good friends he actually is with the engineer.
Eventually, the assistant came over and informed Green Eyes and the little white guy that they would be going to do their auditions. They left and it was just me, and the engineer. We talked about writing. Well, he did most of the talking. Anyone who knows me knows that I talk a lot. In an ironic role reversal, I could barely get a word in with this fellow. Eventually, I managed to say that I think writing this blog has been good discipline for me, writing every day. Perhaps, one day, I will finally be able to write a novel. In due course, the little white guy and Green Eyes came back. I discovered that the engineer had already done his audition and was just waiting for his "friend." How sweet. They said goodbye and I learned that the little guy was named, Dave. Then the engineer said, "goodbye Joseph."
That was odd. I hadn't told him my name. "How did you know my name?"
"That comes from being in the military," he said, smiling. I suspect he either read it off my casting form, or from my work ID, which I still had around my neck.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Darren," he said, shaking my hand. Then, I was on my own. There were a few other people spread about the lounge, but the numbers had dwindled.
Eventually, the assistant came over to me and said she'd be taking me up for my audition, soon. She pointed out a pretty, young, blond woman, who was sitting across the lounge, and said that I would be doing my audition with her. I looked at this woman and thought she would be a stereotypical, blond, pretty girl, who wants to be an actress. Probably stupid. She had been told she'd be auditioning with me, but paid me no attention whatsoever, the stuck up cow. When we were taken upstairs, we were told to wait, sitting in some chairs in a hallway. The blond asked the assistant some questions and it was then that I noticed her accent. She sounded eastern European. At least I wasn't the only foreigner. I started talking with her, as we sat, and asked where she was from.
"Russia," she answered. Oh, this was getting interesting.
"Where in Russia?"
"I went to university in St. Petersburg," she said. I told her that I wanted to visit Russia, one day. I told her I was from America and she asked what part. When I informed her, that I was from New York, her interest seemed to increase a notch. Playing the New York card is often useful. It's great being from someplace everybody's heard of.
"So, what brought you to England?" I asked.
"After university," she said (with a heavy Russian accent), "I wanted to improve my English."
"Hey, it's a lot better than my Russian," I quipped.
She smiled at that and added, "then I just stayed."
"How long have you been acting?"
"Three years," she replied. Damn, she was more experienced than me. I asked her if she got a lot of work. She said she sometimes get quite a bit, then there are times when it's quiet.
"So, do you do anything else, besides acting?" It didn't sound like she was working at acting enough to live on.
"Yes," she answered. "I am a journalist for a Russian newspaper." Wow! I was impressed. Her eyes were set apart on her head a bit, maybe in a Slavic kind of way. That probably added to the impression of being dumb, when viewed across the room.
Finally, it was our turn. We were taken into a room with a video camera and the casting director. Why does it seem like a lot of casting directors are women? I had flirted with the casting director on the phone, when I just thought she was one of the girls in the office. She took still photographs of us, then started videotaping us, separately, at first. We had to tell a little about ourselves and I learned that the Russian girl is named, Marina. Marina said she had stayed in the UK because she got married. Darn. Then she said she is divorced, now. Hey, how suddenly the day can turn sunny. We ended up doing some improvisation. For the first part, Marina and I had to act as boyfriend and girlfriend. Hey, this acting thing can be a lot of fun. Then we had to act as if we were brother and sister. I think I preferred the boyfriend and girlfriend part. When we finished the improvisation, the audition was over. The casting director said they would be in touch, if they want to use us.
I walked downstairs with Marina. When we got outside, I offered to walk with her and asked which way she was going. She said she had to make a phone call first, indicating that she wanted to do so privately. Probably calling her boyfriend. I wished her success and she wished me luck. Then I headed for the Tube.
On the way in, I had picked up a free London paper on the Tube. There were two others I wanted. I had seen people reading "Metro" and I wanted a copy, as it had an interesting headline. It's hard to get a "Metro" in the evening, as most distributors seem to be out. It's easy to get a "London Lite" and a "thelondonpaper," which is the one I had picked up on the way in. While riding the District Line back to where my car was parked, a seat became vacant. As I sat down, I found a "Metro" and a "London Lite," on the seat. Now I had all three free papers. That almost makes up for not getting to walk with Marina.


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