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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Advice on How to Act

I once played the part of `A Ghost of Christmas Past’ in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This was not a great speaking part. In fact I recall quite vividly that I only had one word to say. The three ghosts were employed to change Scrooge’s attitude to Christmas.

A little later on in the play I walked around in the background and served as part of a `crowd scene’. It has been difficult to add this part to my acting C.V. as this was not a speaking part. My career never recovered from the crushing disappointment and I never auditioned again. It was obvious that the director saw through the lack of my talents. In the absence of an agent the awaited phone never came. I am sure that I received excellent direction – I probably needed more advice on how to act than others.

The wardrobe department fitted me out in a musty purple robe – replete with the makeup of past productions. My face was painted green. I had to hold a torch under my chin at key moments.

The part of the ghost is over quite early in the play. The director, however, insisted on the three ghosts appearing at the final curtain – in full makeup. There was a lot of waiting around to do. I was a young school master at the time so there were always books to mark and lessons to prepare. There are only so many numbers of times that an actor can go over a one word line.

John Wayne gave some advice to prospective actors: `Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much.’

Relax over Christmas. Let the family have a rest from the eleven plus grind. If you have to talk about the eleven plus then: `Talk low, talk slow and don’t talk too much.’

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