With another week of resting behind me, I find myself reflecting on just how tired I am. Tired and skint. This week I have been ‘flyering’ – a word yet to be added to the Collins English Dictionary, but when it is it will state:
Fly-er-ing (fli-uh-ring) Verb
1. An action undertaken by an out of work actor/ress for minimum wage.
2. A form of suicide.
As well as flyering, I have been working at a catering event, pouring wine for people who mistakenly thought I gave a shit. I did some cash-in-hand work for a family friend, a pointless job but the overwhelming sense of sorrow they felt for me begging for work like a character from Victor Hugo’s imagination was just too strong for them to turn me away.
As the handful of cash was awkwardly handed over and my embarrassment subsided, I got to thinking. Whoever used the phrase ‘resting’ in first place? This person should be found, hung up and repeatedly struck over the head with an Olivier award whilst being forced to listen to the Woman in White soundtrack on repeat. Resting is what a joint of beef does after it’s been cooked; it’s what my Nan does when she’s come back from her grocery (gin) shopping. Resting is NOT working 53 hours a week for £6.19 an hour – enough money to buy 4.5 top price tickets for Matilda.
The use of the word resting is a great example of how embarrassed we feel as performers to admit that this career is hard. At some point in your career you will not be in an acting job – fact. Yes, some are luckier than others (and that’s what they are, lucky) and some are not so lucky. Some actors will work solidly for 10 years and then have 10 years selling ice creams at Drury Lane. Whenever it happens to you – and it WILL happen to you – it is nothing to be ashamed of, so why do we feel the need to hide it?
Saying things like ‘I’m resting at the moment” or “I’m just between jobs” is like using a code that everyone understands but is used to avoid admitting the truth.
When the dreaded question comes up, and we’ve ALL asked it;
“So, what are you up to?”
Do me a favour, look at the guilty party directly in the eye, smile and say:
“Nothing. I’m working in a restaurant and waiting for a job to come my way… How about you? Still eating Pot Noodles and watching re-runs of Kilroy?”
Ok, maybe not the last bit but at least tell the truth because my friends, the truth is nothing to be ashamed of – unless of course you’ve just written a sequel to a well-known Phantom-based musical.
We are all in this industry for one thing, the love of it. We are not here to make our fortune (the cast of the Joseph UK tour are an exception of course) and we all knew the score when we stepped out of drama school (or GSA) so let’s not lie to each other and let’s not lie to ourselves. Let’s leave resting for the back of a dance class, stand up and be proud, tell the world,
“I’m a flyerer and I’m knackered!”
Lots of love babes!