NT50, Gigs - And Keeping Afloat

It's ironic how much you have to work when you're an 'out of work' actor. It's a rare turn or twirlie who has a regular day job to fall back on as soon as a contract ends; one must be free to audition and able to drop everything at a moment's notice when the agent calls for a "last minute commercial that would set you up for the rest of the year, dear....were you to get it" and, more importantly, the time it takes to prepare the three songs and four scenes you are often asked to have ready for a casting the following morning. No wonder most actors are a little kooky - the highs and lows are enough to send anyone a little off the rails.

And so quickly onto a high of mine - NT50. Yes, it was utterly awesome to be part of such a momentous and historic night in British theatre. If it turned out to be my last job ever (something all actors contemplate at the end of every contract... "what if I never work again?") then I can safely say it was up there with being one of the best theatrical nights of all time. Being allowed to watch the tremendous talent during the technical rehearsals was a huge privilege and, during the show, screens were set up backstage so we could watch the show when not performing ourselves and we all sat, en masse, as a unique company throughout the live broadcast, agog. It was a masterclass in how to conduct oneself and the sheer lack of ego amongst so many 'greats' was humbling and awe-inspiring. I had to pinch myself on a number of occasions - although I had no shame running around asking everyone to sign my programme. In years to come, I can prove to myself (and eBay) that I truly was part of the event. It was the theatrical equivalent of being in the Olympics.

In fact, if being a 'National Player' was not already the collective term for being the cream of British stage and screen then, after NT50, it jolly well should be. I should stress, I would not be so bold as to put myself on a par with Dames Judi, Maggie or Helen. I am, after all, the girl who pulled down her skirt to cover her knickers at the end of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Not quite the same league.... but I'm working on it.

However, threatrical highs are not too dissimilar to Keyzer Soze in The Usual Suspects. You wake up the next morning, "And like that, he's gone" - and you're back to being an out of work actor doing more jobs and gigs to keep afloat than you can shake a stick at. Since NT50, I have supported new writing at The Crazy Coqs venue in Piccadilly, singing the most beautiful, heart-felt song called 'Ready for You' by the talented Stuart Matthew Price and have taken my own singing Masterclass at Arts Ed with the dextrous Barney Ashworth and the wonderful Mike Dixon, who was kind enough to be our star guest. This weekend, I shall be performing as part of a West End cabaret at The Hilton, Park Lane and next week holds more singing workshops in Bournemouth at The Big Little Theatre School with Colin Billing. 'Out of work', eh?!

And that's not all. Next Sunday the 24th, I shall also be performing my own cabaret at a new venue in deepest south London. Known to most as 'the last stop on the night-bus home', 'Penge' is not a destination you would associate with the glamour of cabaret. However, I can report that The Bridge House Tavern is a diamond in the rough waiting to be discovered as West End meets West Penge. Tucked upstairs is an intimate space where performers such as Wendi Peters, Rachel Tucker and Jessie Buckley have already sung and I shall follow in their killer heels, stretching my vocal cords and re-telling tales of shoulder rubbing with The Dames at The Nash amongst other things.

Owing to half of the actors in London living south of the river, I'm hoping for a rowdy crowd. Then again, if they are all out of work and juggling different jobs, there could well be a seat or two free, so come down and join. I promise to entertain between glasses of red wine.

Sunday 24th November at 3pm
Tickets £12
Book online or by calling 0208 778 2100

Bridge House, 2 High Street, Penge SE20 8RZ

Right next door to Penge West Station.

Oh, and a DVD of NT50 isreportedly going to be released soon, in case you missed it!

(Picture: Sophie Bould, Maggie Service and the author - ready for Jerry Springer)

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From This Author Guest Blogger: Tiffany Graves

Tiffany Graves is an actress, singer and dancer. She has previously starred in West End shows including Chicago and Sweet Charity, and has been recently (read more...)

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