If music be the food of love, then what the hell is Kanye?
With this chap’s style of “music” I am really not quite au fait .
Although I like to be on trend, I’ve never been a cool kid
And Kanye’s rousing lyrics leave me feeling pretty tepid.
Another one I just don’t get is someone known as Snoop Dog.
(My feelings for this type of thing would make a good monologue.)
I’ve always liked Bruce Springsteen more than any of these rappers
And hearing Dr Dre, to me there’s nothing else much crapper.
For I have never been a one for “rolling with my homies”.
I like to be in bed by nine to play with my… cojones .
When these fellas start to rap to me of dollars, boats n’ hoes
I’m frequently reminded about other people’s woes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against these rappers with their millions.
I don’t begrudge their sweet success, the joy they bring to others.
I know that some, they do great things and give kids inspiration.
And who knows? One day, Kanye might be leader of a nation.
I find it hard to understand how people get so wealthy.
I don’t think having so much cash can be so very healthy,
Especially when lots of folks, they have so very little
And wrestle with the daily grind. For them life is a struggle.
That some have loads and others naught, I find that hard to fathom.
Just walk along the road and you see a gaping chasm
Between those that have and those who don’t. Wealth is so destructive.
So that is what I want to say and speak on this injustice.
Outside these doors, along the street, a woman’s huddled over.
She doesn’t have a “spinning rim” or Krystal or Range Rover.
She doesn’t have a bed or board. She’s barely got a blanket.
She’s barely got a life or hope. To some, she’s just a maggot.
There’s an old man in a freezing room, afraid to turn the heat on.
When the banks collapsed, hit took a hit, and now his pension’s gone.
The banker didn’t blink an eye, he took a hefty bonus.
He drives a brand new Lambo, doesn’t care about the homeless.
A single-parent family is working round the clock.
A girl on zero hours, has two children run amok.
They know her at the food bank, seen her standing in the street
Counting out her pennies to put cheap shoes upon small feet.
They say the system doesn’t work and the NHS is fucked.
(I’m yet to mention fracking and that many books are cooked.)
The benefits don’t pay their way, the migrant child is here to stay
And the young men now are unemployed, they can’t go out to play.
But back to Kanye and his ilk, it not their fault it’s like this.
It’s mine and yours and his and hers, so try not to dismiss
Unequal rights and policies, unequal opportunities,
Unequal distribution, education or advantages.
Let’s share the wealth, let’s share the love, let Kanye have his say.
And when Snoop Dog makes a difference, I’ll thank him with “hooray!”
As a general rule, I’m seldom moved to tears but I found myself battling moist eyes when almost 450 people rose to their feet, clapping, whistling and cheering their thanks for a performance I’d helped to create. I found the curtain call at the opening night of the RSC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation , incredibly moving. The culmination of more than a year of preparation, this affirmed my decision to make a dramatic change.
Opening night followed three solid days of technical and dress rehearsals, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It was hard work and at times I struggled with some of the demons that actors sometimes face: I’m no good, this isn’t funny, I’ve been miscast, I’m going to ruin everything and make a fool of myself...
A few days earlier I’d been happy with my performance but seemed to lose it somewhere along the way. What if I didn’t find it again? Was this whole drama school business one huge mistake?
I need not have worried. Once the show began I was back on form and the audience completely lifted my performance to how I wanted it to be. In fact it was even better, with new, exciting discoveries made while on stage!
After the performance, the response was overwhelming. When we came out of the theatre there were so many friends and supporters waiting to cheer and applaud (as well as a few microphones and TV cameras looking for our reactions). I can’t remember how many people hugged and congratulated me – including a few strangers – me but it felt amazing.
Taking front/centre stage for that curtain call was one of my most joyous and fulfilling moments. Even now, almost two days after the event, I still find myself welling up a little at the memory. And the best part is I get to do it several more times in Newcastle and then in Stratford in June!
I spent three weeks at Mountview in summer 2015, participating in a three-week acting summer school. It was a wonderful three weeks – the sun shone constantly, I learned a lot and had fun, and it was like a three-week holiday in London. While I was there I saw the school’s current MA students final performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was one of the best versions I’ve ever seen. “Wow,” I thought! “This school produces some great talent!”
So naturally I applied for the MA and attended a first round regional audition in Newcastle. As with Birmingham, there were applicants for various courses at this event including musical theatre, BAs and MAs. The BA and MA acting students were all taken into a room and asked to line up by number (yes, we were given numbers – something I don’t really like but there were a lot of us). We then all sat down in order in a semi-circle.
This was interesting, I thought, and wondered what we were going to do next. It turned out that we were all going to audition in front of everyone! Cue, nervousness and stress!
And so it began, in order, from number 1 to 23.
I was 23 so I had to listen to all the Shakespeare speeches before doing my Iago, and then had to sit through all the contemporary monologues before showcasing my Professor Lyons.
Being last could have quite badly for me as I might have thought everyone was so much better than me and got really worried. However this wasn’t the case at all. There are some things I that you’re advised not to do when auditioning and I saw a lot of people do those things! In fact, I couldn’t even hear a lot of the speeches because several people spoke so quietly, barely above a whisper. Some people put on strange voices, some didn’t really know the name of the play/character they were doing, some were overtly sexual/sweary… Having said that, some of the people really were excellent and I rated a number quite highly, certain they would get – and deserve – a recall audition.
When we had all finished we waited for 15 minutes before being told whether or not we were being offered a recall.
What I learned most from the day is to have confidence is your own abilities. When you do an audition in isolation, just before a panel in a private room, it’s easy to start imagining how the other candidates – essentially, your competitors at this point – have done. This isn’t a worthwhile exercise. You just don’t know what the audition panel is looking for so don’t worry about the other candidates and don’t worry about the panel. Just do your best work and (nerves aside) enjoy yourself.
I was offered a recall in London...
It was a very cold, wet and snowy Friday when I travelled to Birmingham for an audition at Birmingham School of Acting (BSA), part of Birmingham City University. I went down the night before because the audition was scheduled from 9am to 5pm on a Saturday.
After checking-in to my cheap hotel (which I was delighted to discover I had pre-paid several months previous) I went to scope out the audition venue. The campus looked very modern and was in a fairly quiet part of town. I’m glad I did a recce as I wandered around for far too long looking for the entrance! After that I had time to check out the Bullring and other parts of the city before getting quite lost and struggling to get back to the hotel. I was literally dripping wet when I eventually found it and so had an early night ready for the next day.
Saturday morning was bright and sunny but bitterly cold. While I was waiting for the venue to open I was surprised to see someone I knew who’d been in a show with me a couple of years earlier. It was his recall for a BA course and I discovered that the BAs and MAs were to be auditioned together.
Once registration was complete, we were taken for a movement workshop. This started with a gentle warm-up followed by being observed while walking and bobbing around. Then we were all taught a dance routine. Now, this isn’t my strong point but I think the best thing to do in these situations is throw yourself in with gusto and embrace mistakes! Keenness is all!
This was followed by a team game were we tried to carry a “ball” (actually a person) from one side of the room to the other. We couldn’t let our feet move at all when the ball touched us. If a foot moved, it was back to the start!
After that we all had to pretend to be various animals, trying to move and sound like those creatures and really understand what it might be like to see through their eyes and interact with other animals. This seemed to take about an hour but in reality was only about 20 minutes – some of the animals were quite exhausting! In that time I was a: mouse, cat, lion, wolf, chimp, lizard, chicken, and flamingo. When we’d tried out all these animals we were then asked to choose one we liked best and incorporate those animal characteristics into human form - I chose the lion.
This brought us onto improvisation. Using our animal/human characters we went up in front of the group (about 30 people) two at a time and improvised a workshop. At this point I thought I was a tiger and not a lion, but hey, they’re similar. I really enjoyed the improvisation and thought I’d done a pretty good job. A comment from one of the course tutors was encouraging (I don’t think they commented on anyone else’s).
After about two and a half hours of this movement activity it was time for lunch before an afternoon of more intense auditioning after a quick vocal/singing warm-up. There was quite a bit of waiting around in the afternoon while progressing from monologues to singing to sight-reading in front of a camera. Without going into too much detail, here’s what happened:
Monologues – I felt these were a little rushed and I actually forgot my contemporary halfway through and restarted it.
Song – I chose Send in the Clowns by Stephen Sondheim. Originally I planned to do Stars from Les Mis but changed a week before as I felt Send in the Clowns suited me better. I’m glad I did as one of the current students told me that in one session, five people in a row sung Stars! Anyway, the result was I really enjoyed doing the song and felt I did a pretty good job.
Sight-reading – For this I was given a couple of paragraphs of text and then had five minutes to look at it before reading it in front of a camera. I think the text may have been Dickens but can’t be sure… Again, this went as well as can be expected; after all, I can read.
I left the audition pretty stressed and drained, and then had the three and a half hour drive back home (I got a bit lost coming out of Birmingham). I didn’t really hold out a lot of hope for being offered a place at BSA: I’d forgotten a speech; I forgot I was a lion and not a tiger; and I even wore the wrong clothes (apparently, long story).
However, they must have liked what they saw as I was offered an unconditional place the following Monday!