Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Actors Don't Hunt in Packs

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  • James Butler,

    I was eight, I think, when I appeared on stage for the first time – a tiny cameo in The Visit. I don't remember much about the play, except an air of grim creepiness and a sound effect of a panther which I might be imagining.

    Do you have an unexplained deep-seated aversion to yellow shoes by any chance?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Do you have an unexplained deep-seated aversion to yellow shoes by any chance?

    Who isn't averse to yellow shoes? But seriously, you might have something there. And a couple of years later I was in The Wizard of Oz, which might have put me off red shoes...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Look: you could tell people that you returned to acting after your brain surgery. What could possibly be cooler than that?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Brickley Paiste,

    I just tell them I was Raised By Actors.

    So was I and I use it as an excuse for everything. What a nice piece of writing. I went on a course recently that involved a lot of public speaking and it reminded me very much of my weird old parents. I though nothing of it when I was emailed a picture the other day of my dad in a clown costume with a picture frame hanging around his neck.

    By the time Mum was one of the mad murdering sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace

    My mum played Alice. This is weird. Thanks again.

    Since Mar 2009 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • John Fouhy,

    Also, everything you’ve ever heard about actors is true.

    Do you have to do a silly dance if I say "Macbeth"?

    And will sandbags really fall on your head if you whistle at the wrong time?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Who isn't averse to yellow shoes?

    I have two pairs of yellow shoes...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Do you have to do a silly dance if I say "Macbeth"?

    And will sandbags really fall on your head if you whistle at the wrong time?

    Okay, to be fair, I think actor superstition is more like 'it's bad luck to get caught boffing your co-star's understudy'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    There's a lot of Shakespeare in your CV! This reminds me that the Shakespeare Club at my high school, they were the smartest and (secretly) filthiest kids.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1823 posts Report Reply

  • Markboy,

    Okay, to be fair, I think actor superstition is more like 'it's bad luck to get caught boffing your co-star's understudy'.

    That's meant to be BAD luck? I always found that pretty freakin' lucky! (although I guess not the getting caught part)

    But I have a similar story, in some ways. Not raised by actors, but raised by people who appreciated theatre, and fell in love with it from an early age. Did everything and anything I could from about the age of 4, including writing/directing/starring in my own plays at primary school. I too cannot understand how people cannot understand Shakespeare. Even went as far as setting up a theatre company when I was at uni.

    But I also came to the same realisation as you - that I'm actually not a very good actor. I'm sure I could have gotten by, getting small roles here and there, because there are plenty of people who aren't very good actors who make it based on passion. But I made my decision to step away, and haven't really regretted it for a moment since. I miss the atmosphere, the cameraderie, the excitement, to be sure... but I never felt bad about coming to that decision, and moving on.

    (I still dream about going back and directing - Richard III is always calling to me from the back of my mind)

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    In response to your first paragraph, I really must congratulate you on the very excellent bra you're wearing on your book cover!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 718 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    they were the smartest and (secretly) filthiest kids.

    Heheh. "See, 'Will' means 'penis', and 'spirit' means 'semen'... in fact, anything you don't understand, just assume it's a metaphor for sex. Works most of the time."

    In response to your first paragraph, I really must congratulate you on the very excellent bra you're wearing on your book cover!

    Thank you. I love that bra. When it dies, I think it needs some kind of monument built to it. OTOH, my mother has just seen the cover and she's not entirely happy.

    And it is wonderful to hear from you other actor-children. I knew there'd be some of you.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    This reminds me that the Shakespeare Club at my high school, they were the smartest and (secretly) filthiest kids.

    LOL I remember a friend of mine whose parents didn't usually let her go to parties - but Shakespeare Society parties were considered OK. I don't think they ever clicked.

    Also, +1 for loving acting at school but being bad at it - although I did have a reasonable gift for remembering screeds of lines and regurgitating them slowly and clearly, which is often handy in Shakespeare.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Ah thespians, always keen to get their kit off, if the part requires. God bless'm.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    OTOH, my mother has just seen the cover and she's not entirely happy.

    Does she know you at all?

    I also retired from the stage at a young age. By 11, I'd played two of the greatest roles in Western literature - Captain Nemo and Maui - and felt that there was little left to achieve.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Raised By Actors

    Not 'actress', then?

    Stands well back

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Not 'actress', then?

    Stands well back

    Aw, bless the grumpy old men. One assumes they still use words like 'aviatrix' - 'pilot' would just be too confusing.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I suppose getting dressed and undressed constantly would make it all seem pretty natural, although not necessarily to observers. I have a high tolerance for being seen disrobed, having been a swimmer for years, but other people can get quite distressed by this. Togs turn to undies pretty quick, it seems.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8040 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Ah thespians, always keen to get their kit off, if the part requires

    And even if it doesn't. I doubt there's a theatre in existence that hasn't had its share of carnal indulgences.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Karen White,

    Another +1 for retiring from stage at an early age. Mum in many many musicals, Grandad sang on the radio, other side Grandparents all over the Gisborne stage. Me & my sister - animals run when we break out the singstar.
    Mum also did the males makeup for years at reperatory. Our house smelled of greasepaint & coldcream for weeks while shows were on. Hanging out backstage & helping with props was a great excuse to be able to stay out late with the actors.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    On the whole thing of being self-conscious, acting is a sure-fire cure. For my recent birthday, a couple of (male) friends got their girlfriends to go and buy me a bra (coral pink, 14A) as a joke gift. The males were, apparently, very concerned that I might be offended by the gift. When I heard this from one of the purchasing women, I told her that she should've bet them $50 each as to whether or not I'd put it on. She would've won $100 on that one, given that I did indeed put it on. In the middle of a crowded New Lynn restaurant.
    When I advised another friend about the concern, she said that her bet would've been as to whether I'd put it on properly, or put it on my head.

    Shame? What's that?!

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Just remembered a story about Dr Johnson and David Garrick. The explicitness of the words depend on who reported the story, but Boswell has Johnson saying:

    I'll come no more behind your scenes, David; for the silk stockings and white bosoms of your actresses excite my amorous propensities

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Togs turn to undies pretty quick, it seems.

    Apparently they use that rule on findsomeone.co.nz - you can have bikini photos if you're by a pool, but not if you're inside.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 718 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    Do you get a point for being raised in the theatre and staying with it?

    And will sandbags really fall on your head if you whistle at the wrong time?

    Probably not any more, but in the early days fly tower cues were called through a series of whistles, so if you whistled when you were backstage a sandbag may well have been dropped on you. This wouldn't have been a deliberate act, just people doing what they were told.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I have a high tolerance for being seen disrobed, having been a swimmer for years, but other people can get quite distressed by this. Togs turn to undies pretty quick, it seems.

    Swim regularly, and pretty soon you've seen thousands of bodies in the changing room. I find it hard to understand how people are hung up on things.

    One of my proudest moments was when I appeared naked on TV1, TV3, and in the Dominion Post. For an environmental protest outside Parliament, of course. How was I not going to say yes to that?

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2079 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Not 'actress', then?

    One assumes they still use words like 'aviatrix' - 'pilot' would just be too confusing.

    I saw the same link, then noted you (Emma, not Lyndon) had used the verb waitressed, and wondered if there might be sympathy with Joe Bennett.

    =)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

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