The Little Things

Watching the Olympics and learning of Laura Trott as a child being inspired wearing Bradley Wiggins Gold Medal got me thinking about those inspirational moments.

I was reflecting on what it takes to make anyone embark on a creative life as an artist. I had absolutely no history, no qualifications in acting, or anything else creative really. Only a sense as quite a young child that I loved acting. But with all three sciences and technology under my belt and not a clue what I did want, only that I didn’t want to go to university, my ‘Careers Officer’ offered only two options: Work in a bank, or go on an engineering apprenticeship. Five years later, having undertaken an Engineering apprenticeship in the MoD and then travelled around the world to find myself, I managed once again to readdress what I was doing with my life and what I actually wanted to be doing.

Working for a high-street jewellers, I applied for several drama schools, learning my pieces and then taking a day trip into London for the various auditions. That time around, I drew a blank. One audition, the one-woman panel was busy sorting out her tea and biscuits whilst I gave my best on the stage infront of her.

The Guildhall suggested I had a great CV for engineering, but sod all for acting and that I perhaps spend the next year showing I meant it and re-apply. This was definitely contributory, but there was one thing that made me truly believe. Doing the audition circuit, you sometimes bumped into the same faces at the different schools. In the down time between auditions you therefore befriended would be actors, in the same boat and so it proved for me. I befriended a girl from Lowestoft at the Webber Douglas audition and this was the only reason why, after a disastrous morning audition at the Drama Centre, I was still there in the afternoon, waiting for her to go in, so we could go and get something to eat.

Due to shock more than anything, I don’t remember much of the audition I’d just done. Only that, rather than just a panel of two or three tutors, there was a massive audience of student actors already on the course arrayed behind the table of tutors. You then performed on a dais terrifyingly close to this examination of your soul. Towards the end of a miserable experience, having failed to restart my speech several times, I had turned in frustration, exasperation and humiliation and was gently banging my forehead on the wall behind me, unable to do what was being asked of me by not only the panel, but also by myself.

Sitting with my new friend in the cafeteria afterwards, the staff started drifting back for the afternoon session. One of these was the revered Yat Malmgren, a Norwegian ex-dancer, movement teacher and heavyweight dramaturge, responsible for setting up the Drama Centre in the Sixties. To me he was a God, a proper ascetic and the reason why I had chosen to audition there in the first place. Over the years he’d worked with countless household names.

Spotting me as he passed, he stopped and, in a thick accent, said ‘You auditioned this morning?’ I sat to attention and nodded, spellbound and not a little apprehensive. ‘Promising. You have something. Keep trying.’ And with that, he was gone.

Considering the abject failure I had experienced just an hour or so before, this was all the more remarkable. It was also the only reason I felt I was able to choose to do it all again the following year. To this day, I’ve no idea what he saw, but I’m so glad not only that he did, but that he took the time to let me know.

Interested to know if anyone else has a story.

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