Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Thoughts on an audition
I realised a while ago that the only way then that I could find a role for a trans person was to write them myself. And that the only way to get the work put on was to fund it myself. And I did that too.
It’s been quite a lonely business, and I got very excited last week when I heard of a television production company auditioning trans actors. Even more excited when I read the scene they sent me to prepare.
I was expecting something that was about being trans; what it was actually about was three barristers jostling for dominance.
The writing fascinated me: the characters’ struggles for authority and dominance were so skillfully explored... but at the cost of exploring or understanding them as people.
They were the usual aggressive and somewhat repellent people you so often find in TV drama. Living and struggling as individuals to gain power over one another.
Life as a battle: this kind of thing is meat and drink to most television drama - to a drama created in late capitalism with a world view founded on the idea of life as a struggle between individuals.
But it’s no use for a writer like me: someone trying to imagine a different world.
And a world built on solidarity and empathy.
So it repelled me as a writer; but fascinated me as a performer.
And I could see so very clearly how the presence of a trans character could give a whole new and fascinating dimension to the dynamics of the scene.
And it was so liberating because then it belonged to a drama in which being trans just became a given, like having red hair; part of the emotional furniture of the scene, so to speak.
Simply accepted as part of the fabric of life.
I loved that.
I so wanted to explore it in the audition; but never got the chance.
It would be nice to feel I was simply being paranoid or cynical; but I left with a shrewd hunch that the company were not so much interested in creating a pool of trans actors as finding an attractive English counterpart to the amazing and beautiful Laverne Cox of ‘Orange Is The New Black’; and that that is a category of actor to which I am far too old to belong.
I’ve neither tried to work as an actor for long enough, nor lived as a woman for long enough, to get used to being judged solely on my looks.
I doubt you ever get used to it. It stinks.
But as I travelled back from London, it seemed to me that the best thing about the whole business was that it had quite by chance enabled me to be filmed reading my “Letter To The Unknown Soldier”
Part of this very beautiful project I feel so proud to be part of
And here, at least, my looks do not matter at all.
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