Grab every opportunity – but beware the toilet

I would like to share 3 stories for actors (and actually anyone trying to get their business happening).  Get work out there, Grab every opportunity, and Be careful where you do your r&d.

Yesterday I was at the Arcola for the 49th season of the Miniaturists. I saw 14 fine actors each in leading roles. I saw the work of 5 directors I did not know. And I saw short plays by 5 writers who were chosen to have their skill presented before a real audience across two performances. Each play was complete in itself. I was there because of cheering on one writer, but what a bonus to be able to spot all this talent in one visit.  I suspect the nature of the event meant there were potential “employers” in the audience.  I enjoyed myself immensely.
Here is one, of many, chances to “get work out there”.  Readings, showcases, miniaturists, Edinburgh, festivals all-over, sunday galas.  All chances for me to see unexpected talent, in unexpected events, where I may not be obviously “shopping”.  So please can I recommend every person wishing to sell their business (as an actor,  as a writer, as a grommet-salesperson or copywriter) think laterally.  Ask one question. Where could the next customer be sitting allowing me the chance to show my skill/product to them unexpectedly ?
I for one have jotted notes against some actors, some writers, and will have another read of the programme and hope to see some of them in other roles and places.
Suggestion 2 – Grab Every Opportunity. So this morning I was with a group of actors at a Q&A with an influential and very useful leader in their field of the business. He answered lots of questions and gave his personal feelings about areas of work and preparation for work which will, I hope, resonate with all those students have been taught.  However they have clearly not read my book, or many of these blogs, or listened to words of wisdom offered them. I don’t blame them because no-one believes me when I tell them about this piece of advice.  At the end of the session people left the lecture hall smiling and saying thank you. Not a single one of them took the initiative to come up to this potential “employer” and ask advice or ask a question or even introduce themselves.  The next time they will probably see this business leader will be at competitive sales event (read that as audition for any actors reading). That’s not a place to be able to have a chat really.  They all missed a great opportunity.  He and I were standing at the front, open and welcoming, wondering to each other who would take the initiative. No-one did.   So whether you are listening to a grommet marketing lecture and you are a copywriter, or you are a writer at a seminar led my an acclaimed Oscar winning playwright, or whatever it may be. Grab every opportunity.
My 3rd reflection of the morning is just to be careful where you do your r&d, where you rehearse, and where you show yourself without attention to who is around. In New York its called the “3 blocks rule”.  Here I was in the loo, and in the next door cubicle there was an actor rehearsing a very involved speech. [Or at least I hope that’s what they were doing because otherwise they may need real help]. Now they gave a pretty good reading of the script I think.  I’m not casting or directing, so I didn’t focus too hard. However just remember that the person in the next door cubicle might have been the casting director or director. Be aware of good places to practice your speech.
It is always a pleasure to share thoughts in these blogs, and then to have gathered many of them into “Your Life in Theatre” – available in all good bookshops. If you would like hundreds of these bits of advice, or you know someone in the business who might find this kind of practicality useful, then do get a copy for their santa stocking.  Bookshops and Amazon and Kindle are all available sources.  And if you enjoy it, please send me comments or put something up on Amazon or other readers comments.
One more blog before heading off for some international time.