Monday, 7 December 2015

Some you win... some could have gone better.

It’s been a busy week. As things typically go I have no castings for a few weeks, and then everything happens all at once. Which meant that on Friday I had 2 auditions. Not 1 minute castings, but auditions with material that I needed to prepare. Music and monologues. It also meant that I got sick on Wednesday. On Thursday I had no voice, which made prepping for the vocal audition on Friday rather difficult.

Well, the first email said my audition would be a vocal audition that required me to prepare one song of my own choice. I received a later email with a time change for the audition on it while I was in a meeting. I checked the email on my phone and replied. I didn’t see that attachments. Which meant that when I arrived at my audition, still sick but well prepared with my song, I wasn’t entirely prepared. I saw the other girls practicing lines and a song.

Thankfully one of the girls lent me her sheet music and lines, and the auditions ran late. Which meant that as each girl before me auditioned I stood by the door and listened to the accompaniment learning the song. By the time I entered for my audition I knew everything I needed to know. But my nerves weren’t in check, and I didn't have the voice I needed despite the cold and flu medicine I had been using. 

They liked what I did with the character, and strangely the song I had prepared in the 30 minutes before my audition went better than my own song. But I didn’t have time to dwell. I had a physical theatre audition, and that is my forte.

The GPS took me straight from audition venue 1 to The Market Laboratory. I had never been there before, so I was thankful when I found the venue quickly and parking wasn't a problem. I had prepared the lengthy monologue and I got through it. And when they asked me to perform the piece differently I did.  I enjoyed it.

I still have a week to wait before I hear if I have the role. And as with all my auditions, I don’t expect anything. But walking out of an audition that went well means a lot. One where I had fun, and got to perform, albeit for 2 people who are judging me. Even if I don’t get the part I had fun.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Launching Lost In Chance

I am not famous. Not yet anyway. And I didn't go into acting to get famous. If you don’t believe me, check my twitter and Instagram following. Or check them out anyway: My twitter and instagram handles are both @ChandreBo 

I do, however, have friends that are doing really cool things. And one of my friends wrote a book.

Lize Jacobs and myself at the launch of her book Lost In Chance at Skoobs.

I met Lize Jacobs (click to link to her website) about three years ago when I auditioned for one of the short films she and her brother Henco J were making. I got to know her a bit better when I actually got to be in one of the short films a while later. During this time I’d heard that she had written a book. I'd heard how she’d phoned her friends at weird times asking advice on what clothes a character might wear. Then I heard that the editing and rewriting process would take some time. Later I heard that she was researching the routes she could take to publish her book. And that her book was about Paris.

Shortly after I got back from Paris earlier this year Lize asked if I would read her book for her. Another pair of eyes looking for any mistakes, or suggestions and to write a blurb for her book. I finally used three years of English literature studies practically as I read through the book. 

“Please give me your honest thoughts. Don’t hold back”

I am a rather straightforward person, and I believe that the truth might hurt now, but helps in the long run. Thankfully I was spared a rather awkward email as I really enjoyed the book. And then I was asked to attend the book launch, and to read an excerpt of her book at the book launch.

In the paperback. My blurb for Lost In Chance.

 Last week my husband and I attended the launch of Lost In Chance. A Paris-themed evening at Skoobs: Theater of Books in Monte Casino. And I did a reading of the book, as a ‘celebrity’. There were other people there who are actually well-known, and a beauty queen, but I won't go into that. I'll just have my moment.

As I joke about my status in the South African performance industry, a big part of what made the book launch so wonderful were all the people who got involved in the launch of the book. The sponsorship programs, and the mobile library all made possible by the people who attended the launch on Wednesday evening.

If you are interested in buying Lost In Chance, Click Here or take wonder to Skoobs book shop and pick up a paperback.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Playing Mommy Dearest

I’m not what you would call “maternal”.  Please don’t ask me to hold your baby, because I don’t really know how. In fact, the last time a child was put in my hands (at church no less) I was so startled that I stood awkwardly holding the child at arm's length. It was immediately removed from me as a women proclaimed:

“You need to practice with a doll first”.

As a recently married women my husband and I often get asked when we’re planning on a starting a family.
Not any time soon.

Which made last week particularly interesting. Upon arriving at a casting I was told to “pair up” with a seven year old girl. The casting director spoke to the group at large:

“Ladies, talk to your new daughter. Let them get comfortable with you so that you both give a good performance”. 

The role was for the mother of the little girl. Fortunately the kid I got paired up with was extremely chatty. Upon introducing herself to me she looked me square in the eye and asked quite seriously, as if I knew him personally:

“Do you know what’s happening with Justin Bieber?”

I professed that although I didn’t know him personally I had heard some of his new music.

“No” She was insistent that he was up to no good and was definitely not making new music. This was not up for debate.

“I hear that he’s either taking drugs or he’s in Mexico”

I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to all of this. Fortunately I didn't need to.

"Do you see that girl there" she asked pointing across the room.

"She's in my school. Last week she had a sugar rush and went sort of loopy. Then she drank a whole one of those" she changed from pointing to the girl to a five liter water bottle. The conversation then changed to another topic. My contribution to the conversation wasn't much more than iterations of "Really", "Is that so" or "Why is that?"

My first fully formed sentence when I got home to my husband?

“I have no idea how to talk to children.”

My words were barely out before I received another email from my agent. I had a casting the very next morning. To play a pregnant woman.

That evening we had friends over. As I unlocked the front door to our home a weird scream traveled through the air of our complex. Not being aware of any kids close to us I was rather confused about the source of the sound.

“Was that a cat?”

“No Chandré. That was a baby. You are CLEARLY ready for motherhood.”

Monday, 2 November 2015

My lips are sealed.

I have been quite for a while, for three reasons: I’ve been working hard on academics and house hunting, it has been really quiet industry-wise of late and lastly, the contract I was working I’m not allowed to talk about. Or post about on social media.

When I did a two week shoot for a coke advert 2 years ago the first thing I did after collecting my luggage at the airport (well, I went to the wrong carousel and then had to find it by the baggage handlers) was sign a non-disclosure agreement. Threatening to be prosecuted by the State of Oregon if I posted (or my family and friends posted) anything about the shoot on any form of social media. And they were monitoring us. One of the stuntmen got into a lot of trouble when putting a photo on facebook. I had to sign a non-disclosure again two days into the shoot. Just in case. I’m not sure in case of what, but it had to be done. Coke was terrified Pepsi would catch wind of what was going on. And on my second shoot I wasn’t going to be arguing with anyone. What was different about that shoot to the work I’m doing now is that I could post about the advert once it had aired.

I’ve worked two contracts this year I can’t post about. It’s sort of like being a slightly less glamorous Disney princess. Maintaining the illusion is key. So no photos of yourself in half of your costume, no backstage pics. And if someone manages to photograph you mid costume change you got into trouble. During rehearsals a friend took a photo of me doing a handstand which I sent to my husband. Our director thought I had posted it online:

“My husband had such a good laugh at that photo of me”

“Did you post it on facebook?” He had gone suddenly pale as he hadn’t specifically briefed me on the company’s protocols.

“It’s not my first gig. I know how this works. Nothing online.”

His relief was palpable.

It would be really great to post about all the weird things and conversations we have about the show. About the strange service entrances we use for shows, the unlighted paths we’ve had to walk at night and sneezing in our costumes before performing. What I can talk about more is the amazing people I get to work with. Cast mates and directors. My wrangler who keeps my costume safe and looks after me when I’m in character and who has literally saved my life. She has kept me from falling down stairs and protected me from over-zealous kids and parents.

As a performer there are things I would love to be able to share. And there are things I just can’t. The performance is more important. As performers we have to believe in the illusion we are creating for people we are entertaining. If we can’t believe in that, we don’t belong on that stage. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

You expect me to what?

Castings and auditions are different. Fundamentally. There are models at castings (who sometimes make me inferior. Well. Maybe inferior isn’t the right word). They are short and based on what you look like more than anything else. You walk in, and start with your ID:

Name: Chandre Bo
Age: …..
Represented by: Leads Artist Management.
Are you available for the shoot dates: Yes.
A full body shot.
Right profile. Left Profile. Hands. Smile.

Then you do something related to the advert. Shiver, pretend to blow dry your hair. A few seconds of whatever is needed for the director to see if you will work for the 30 second advert. Usually you don’t know what’s coming when you walk into the audition.

An audition is entirely different. You have a character that you are auditioning for, you received material. You know the background of the play. You might have to sing. You’re prepared. And as an actor you generally wear black for theatre (you never wear black for a casting on camera).

Which made Wednesday weird.
I received the email late on Tuesday afternoon for the Wednesday lunch time casting. There were 2 lines, a description of what was required of me. And a rather specific character description which included a flowery dress. Strangely enough it was a casting company I had never done a casting for before.

As I arrived at the gate I received a paper with instructions for parking, finding my form in front of a photographic studio, filling it in, and then going to the first floor. The carpeted passageway along which the casting director’s offices were situated had two chairs. Which meant that we were sitting on the floor. A friend of mine from the same agency was sitting on the floor next to me, albeit she was in jeans while I was desperately trying not to flash my underwear while sitting on the floor in my flowery dress. She was in jeans as she was auditioning for a different character, a mother.  As we sat on the floor another women came around the corner to audition.

“She must also be auditioning for the mother” my friend claimed.
Two little boys followed the woman around the corner as she walked in.

“We were supposed to bring kids?”

I laughed

“Oops. Well, I forgot my prop”

Seconds later an irritated women covered in baby powered storms past us in the passageway. We knew we would be in for an interesting time.

The two casting directors walked out of the office shortly afterward. One a man wearing a white kaftan, the other a stunningly beautiful women. She was slightly older with jet black hair, an off the shoulder shirt and a floor length white skirt. I was given a number and called in.

A man who was also auditioning was already standing there. I was given a lilac bottle and told to spray him in the face.

“It barely hurts. I’ve been sprayed in the face like four times today already” the man in the kaftan informed me after I asked if I should spray the guy in the chest instead. The male actor gave me a pleading look.

“What have you workshopped for this part?”

I had to work hard to hide my surprise. They expected me to workshop for a casting for an advert when I was given a script to prepare.

“I prepared what was asked in the script we were given”

“Oh, you don’t have to do any of that. You can do whatever you want.”

I did what I had prepared, what the script had asked me to do. And walked out. They hadn't even asked for an ID. They had given no direction. Only a single take. No guidance for sight lines, if I was still in the camera's view. Nothing. And they wanted it to be funny. With someone I had never seen before. Who didn't know what was coming next either. In a single take.

“Well that was awkward” I said to my friend as I walked out.

“What was awkward?” the beautiful casting director had been standing next to me.

I fumbled slightly “I think I hurt that guy I auditioned with” a genuine concern considering the red welts on my wrists from the physical casting I had just survived.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine. It’s part of acting”

As I walked down the stairs back to my car I happened upon the man who had auditioned with me.

“I hope I didn’t hurt you”

“Not at all. You actually managed to spray me right on the forehead”

Monday, 14 September 2015

Au natural: Pretty Faces

Natural hair. No makeup. No filter.

I have a dress I call my audition dress. Its blue, which is a good colour for auditions and camera and it makes me look thin. Its’s a plain dress that can represent many different things, but most importantly: I feel comfortable in it. I feel pretty in it. It’s my go-to dress for auditions. If I don’t get told anything specific it’s the dress that I wear. But the brief I received for a Friday afternoon audition called for something a tad more specific.

The character I was audition for was climbing out of the shower wearing only a towel. I decided that this called for a white shirt. Also in the brief and printed in bold was: THE GIRLS ARE TO WEAR NO MAKEUP. 

After last year’s slew of apparent “No makeup selfies” where ladies clearly wearing makeup were professing to be clean faced and posting about how difficult it was to put a photo of themselves au natural online I knew it would be interesting to see who would pull through. The brief also called for long curly hair, that isn’t too dark.

When I arrived for my audition another girl was also wearing light shirt, and aside from her mascara she was relatively clean-faced. What followed was more and more ladies, with more and more makeup and less and less hair. 

The audition required a comedic performance from the actors. It was, for once, a role where acting was more important than what a team could make you look like. As we were about to start the casting agent, who is usually without fail a laugh called us all into the studio for the casting:

"Ok ladies, this is a shower scene so tops and bras off"

It took me laughing before the suddenly pale girl next to me realised he was joking.

What was fun about the audition for me was seeing again that fresh-faced is beautiful too. We don’t need layers of mascara, base, blush, bronzer and all the other products and colours in my arsenal I call a professional makeup kit to look pretty. I was sitting in a room full of beautiful women, most of whom were wearing nothing to very little makeup, and who were all confident. It was fun to be part of that. And when auditions become work it was fun to be at an audition that required some comedy. And some heart.

If you enjoy the craziness of my life and enjoy the blog, follow me on twitter and instragram: @ChandreBo

Monday, 7 September 2015

Pencils at the ready: The adjudicator's decision is final

I might moan a lot before leaving to adjudicating eisteddfods. I’m away from home, by myself, working long hours and generally I have a headache most of the time from concentrating for long periods at a time. However, the pay is good and when I’m there I give it my all because I know the value of eisteddfods. I feel that eisteddfods are important for kids to learn. And not specifically for the kids who want to become actors or study drama. For those kids eisteddfods are a chance to learn new skills. Get different feedback, a fresh set of eyes, a new point of view on their work and how they can improve. Those kids are a lot of fun for me to watch and help them grow as performers. For me eisteddfods are important for the kids who struggle to get through a ten line poem because they are so nervous. The kids that rush, forget to breathe properly and have never been on a stage before. For those kids eisteddfods are important as they learn public speaking skills. They learn how to speak to audience one day when they are presenting projects, or pitches. Or how to speak in a job interview. Needless to stay, I take adjudication very seriously.

When I was the kid who competed in dance and drama eisteddfods the rules were very strict. The adjudicator’s decision was final, and no one was allowed to speak to or make contact with the adjudicator. If only the rules were still followed.

You grow a thick skin after an eisteddfod or two. Despite being asked to be there as an expert there will always be parents, teachers, and the odd high school student who doubts that you know your poetry from your dramatized prose. Although you get used to it, it is always surprising where someone’s anger comes from. What they think you did or didn’t do. What you saw, or didn’t see. I’m human, so sometimes I still get a bit angry, but mostly I find it amusing.

I had had a good week and a half. There had been no specific incidents, I been fed good food, it was my second year adjudicating at the same venue and I knew the ropes and the people working with me. On my second last day I walked into the school 15 minutes earlier than planned. I was accommodating students who couldn’t attend the eisteddfod at their designated time, so I was putting in extra time to help them out. As I readied myself with a cup of green tea one of my aids walked in with a photocopy of a report I had written the day before stapled to a poem and a letter from the drama teacher. When I had adjudicated the child the day before she had performed poetry in the dramatized monologue section. I had written in her report that she had done really well, but I had to be strict about the sections. I am always strict about the sections in which children are entered in whether I’m adjudicating drama or dance. I can’t compare beginner tap to advanced ballet and it helps the kids learn the different forms and what they entail. A part of me wasn’t surprised by the letter as I had seen the family congregate around my report after the section. According the letter:

“Although I respect the adjudicator’s decision I would like her to reconsider”

Apparently she had performed the piece before at some other eisteddfod, also in the monologue section and had done very well:

“She received a diploma for the same piece”

The url at the top of the page didn’t help their cause much as “” was emblazoned across the top of the page.

Thankfully the chairperson of the eisteddfod was on my side, especially as I refused to reconsider a mark I had already given. This incident was, however, just the first for day.

At this particular eisteddfod the setup is great for me. I have an aid next to me who not only does all the admin, she has each child’s poem with her and prompts them if they get stuck. She also marks where they forget words, so I can double check with her if I think a stanza or a line has been left out by a performer. Although, after hearing the same 2 poems about 40 times I knew them by heart too. The second performer of that section of Grade 7 girls dropped a whole stanza from the 5 stanza poem.  When I turned to my aid she had already marked on the page where the stanza had been left out, so I wrote my report, adding in that the mark was lower due to the fifth of the poem that had been omitted. Roughly 21 performances later a teacher in a beautiful blue shirt stormed down on me through the isle between the chairs which divided the hall in half:

“You made a mistake” she claimed.

I looked at her blankly. Without at least the child with her I had no idea of who or what she was talking about.

“You claimed that my student left out a stanza”

I considered starting by explaining what a stanza was but thought better of it.

“Let me see the report” which I thankfully recognised immediately.

“I didn’t make a mistake. Both my aid and myself noted the stanza which was left out” my aid showed the sheet of paper with the marked stanza.

“You made a mistake. I was following her performance”

“So was I. And she left out an entire stanza”

I returned to sharpening my pencils before the next section started.

“I’m not going to reconsider, I’m sure of what I heard and my aid agrees with me”

The teacher stormed back out of the hall flapping the certificate and report as she went and claiming loudly for all to hear:

“She made a mistake. The adjudicator is wrong. She made a mistake.”

But my fun afternoon didn’t stop there. As I mentioned before you get used to all kinds of things, but there’s always something that surprises you.

Roughly the second boy in my Grade 7 section started with the Grade 6 poem. He got about halfway through before saying the last rhyming couplet and walking triumphantly off the stage. When he started I paged back to the Grade 6 poem to follow what he was doing. I wrote out his report and the next Grade 7 boy walked on stage.  Who also started with the Grade 6 poem. A great many different scenarios started running though my head. Had the poem been labelled incorrectly, had teachers not been specific? And then the boy fumbled, and picked up again on the second stanza of the Grade 7 poem. When he finished and walked off the stage I looked at my aid without saying a word:

“You heard correctly. He started with the Grade 6 poem and finished with the Grade 7 poem.”

The calligrapher on the other side of the aid chimed in too.

“In all my years that’s the first time I’ve heard that happen. I couldn’t believe it”

Apparently neither could his mother. Who marched up to me after she had read the report. What ensued was a play ground round of “He did” “No he didn’t”. I wasn’t going to play that game.

“I’m really sorry, but three of us agree that that is what happened. I’m not making this up.”

“No he didn’t”

I shrugged my shoulders.
She tried the phrase again as if it would change something, and then walked out of the hall.

So I close with an open statement to parents:

I don’t know your children, or you. I adjudicate purely on what I see on stage, and I always try my best to be positive and uplifting with every sentence I write. I want your kids to do well. I want them to come back and perform again and to enjoy being on stage. Eisteddfods create audiences who appreciate theatre. And quite frankly I want to come back again next year. The pay is good.

Spring blooms growing in the guest house's gardens

Monday, 31 August 2015

3.5 Years In Making A Master

“I’ve had a relationship with this document for a longer than I’ve had a relationship with you”

My words to my husband as we printed and bound my masters dissertation in the early hours of a Monday morning. I had just started the second year of my Masters studies when we met in 2013. Now, two and half years after we met my husband and I were standing in front of an industrial photocopy machine printing and binding the 221 page document that is my Master of Arts (Drama and Film) dissertation. And a 23 page draft article which still needs fine tuning before I could admit it for publication, and plagiarism forms, and the form I required to submit my dissertation. Despite a long week, and all the work still waiting for us my husband had sat next to me as I did my final proofread. Brought me cups of tea to make sure that I stayed hydrated and accompanied some of the mugs of tea with vitamins to make sure I stayed energised and focused.

Sometimes tired happens to good people. After punching holes in the wrong side of the page for binding, we found more paper reprinted and punched holes in the correct side of the page and bound both copies of my dissertation. Home to bed, and two a half hours later Mauritz was up and off to work, and I was up and off to Pretoria to submit.

Parking at the University of Pretoria is always a problem. Always. We joke and say that when you receive any degree from the University of Pretoria you got it with diploma in parking. Students at the Hatfield campus can fit a car into spaces previously not deemed large enough to fit a car. We are creative and precise parkers. As I started my third circle of campus looking for a parking spot I decided to go off grid. Next to one of the theatres close to the drama department was an area we often used when parking was problematic. When I got there two other cars were already parked there, but there appeared to be just enough space for me to fit, although a concrete bench would make things slightly problematic. I got my car close to the parking, pulled up my hand brake, got out of the car, took a deep breath and pulled the concrete bench out of the way. It only moved a few centimetres. I could only move the heavy concrete bench a few centimetres but it was enough. I got the room I needed to park and I was out. Copies in hand and off to my study supervisor to get my form signed. My stomach felt heavy as I climbed the stairs. I was expecting to feel light. Perhaps even relief. I said as much to my study supervisor. He told me about his first Master’s student:

“When he handed in his hard copies for the library he looked light as a feather”

It didn’t help my lead-like feeling much. With my signed form I walked to the administration offices where I needed to hand in my dissertation. My brother had joined me and was with me to metaphorically hold my hand at this point in my life that marked the culmination of years of work. When we got to the office the admin clerk who was supposed to accept my work was out on lunch. Which gave us time for me to brake my tea rule for cappuccinos. Mostly so that I could stay awake. While we waited I copied my digital work in pdf and word format to a CD on a hunch. My hunch paid off. As I handed in my two copies, forms, plagiarism forma and article the administration clerk asked for my CD with the digital work. Cool as a cucumber I handed over the freshly burned CD. Anticlimactically.

I stood at the counter, glass separating myself and the clerk and I felt somewhat hollow. Three and a half years of work. Hours of my life, my social life. Time I could have spent planning my wedding, time I could have spent with family or friends, time I could have spent sleeping went into that document and it was suddenly out of my hands. There was nothing and for now I would get nothing in return. I looked at the clerk who smiled at me:

“About halfway through the process I’ll send you an email to keep you up to date. Congratulations.”

On the way home I phoned my parents to let them know my dissertation was submitted. They had been there for me, and helped and supported me through 7.5 years of studying, crying, laughing:

"You and Mauritz should go out for dinner tonight"

"We are both exhausted. We hardly slept last night, so I think I'll just get us takeaways for supper"

"In that case make it fancy takeaways. We can't be there for you today, but we can pay for a really special supper"

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Keeping It Fresh And Making A Move

On Monday I got to attend the opening of what had always been the Krêkvars Student Arts Festival, but is now the Krêkvars-Kopanong Student Arts Festival. "Krêkvars" is a play on an afrikaans saying that means something is so fresh that it cracks. I have no idea what Kopanong means.  I’ve been part of this drama festival for the past seven years, and I’m even in the Festival’s Facebook profile picture and on the website. This year is the first year that I won’t be performing in or directing at least one production. Attending the opening made me realise why.

This image is from Three Wall Temple directed by Nico Scheepers and is the image the Krêkvars-Kopanong Festival uses for media. The photo was taken by Christiaan Harris with, from top to bottom: Luan Jacobs, Gopala Davies, myself Chandre Bo, Werner Coetzee and Brinsley Motsepa.

The Krêkvars Student Arts Festival started as a platform for the Honours directing students at the drama department to create and direct theatre and was the platform via which they could showcase their work. Later the third year drama students obligatory became part of this process for their acting marks. The festival grew over the past 15 years and has become a space in which students and young writers, directors and actors form every walk of life can create and showcase their work at a minimum cost. Although there are a lot of outside shows now, there has always been a majority of Tuks, and old Tuks students creating shows with the current set of Drama students. I have performed at the opening evening which was always held the Saturday evening before the Monday opening of the festival at least three times over the past few years. Although the festival was a cornerstone in my education, learning about performance and theatre in some ways it had become a wall for me. Keeping me safe in an area where people knew me and respected my work.

This year I didn’t have the capacity to enter. I’m now living far away from the people I know and that I could potentially work with.  I had rehearsed and performed for a corporate event and been to Europe in the time when I would have needed to be working on a show. And if I had entered a show for the festival I would most likely have missed out on my own personal growth and the growth of my marriage the unplanned excursion to Europe had offered me. It just wasn’t possible for me to enter a show this year, although I was still very aware of entering dates, closing dates and when the festival was to start.

The week before the festival opened I said to my husband that I found it odd that I hadn’t received an invitation for the opening as I was still a Masters student and we were always invited. A day later I received a message saying that I was invited to the Festival Opening, on the Monday evening when the festival had already started. This year with a new name and a new time for the press-opening I now had to choose which show I wanted to watch as two were to be performed, and I had to pay an entrance fee for my husband (in the past I was always able to take a plus one with me at no cost). It was different. Very different. 

As we walked to the noise on the grounds of my alma mater and my beloved drama department my husband asked:

“Are you going to know anyone here”

I knew at least two of my friends would be there for certain.

“Probably not. Maybe.”

The strung fairy lights, gas heaters and lit trees of the Drama Department quad that hosted the speeches of the official opening at the University of Pretoria.
As we walked into the highly excitable crowd of actors and dangling fairy lights I heard my name being called by people who had studied there before me, people who were younger and I had directed and worked with and were all at the opening in various capacities. Some as current post-grad students, some as directors for shows running at the festival and some just because they had nothing better to do on a Monday evening. The general confusion as we tried to figure out what was to happen next as the invitation was vague and trying to find a glass of wine that the first years who were supposed to be working hadn’t already downed in a dark corner somewhere was familiar. For a moment I remembered what it was like when I was still an undergrad student. And then I bumped into an old friend who I had worked with a lot, but had not seen in a while due to work and proximities. 

“We only had two weeks of rehearsal for the festival” he told me.

“I pulled out of a presentation so that I could focus my attention on the show”

The presentation he had pulled out of was with a friend of mine who I strongly believe is going places. And the presentation he had pulled out of was for at television channel. Only he will know if the call he made was the right call. But I realised if our places had been switched it wouldn't have been the call I would have made.

This year I have heard from actors of all levels of experience, and inexperience, semi-celebrity and complete unknown that our industry has been eerily quiet. I’ve felt it in the declining amount of castings I’ve attended in our winter months. So as much as I understand wanting to be in the walled-in safety of the festival I realised on Monday evening that it was time for me to move on. To try to get my work into bigger festivals. To work with new people as well as the familiar ones. To embrace the new city I’m living in. If I want to be seen as a professional and not just a student I should starting acting and working like one. It's time to ditch the student card and grab a set of keys for the big world.

As we left the festival at an early hour as my husband had to work in the morning and I had various tasks that required my attention I was filled with nostalgia. The festival was so different from what I had been used to and I couldn't expect it to stay perfect in time for my annual return. It had grown and become something different and it's time for me to take that cue.
You know its Festival time if you're drinking red wine form a plastic glass. Or a styrofoam glass...

Monday, 13 July 2015

Mastering It!

If all goes well I will hand in my dissertation before the end of this month. My dissertation has been by the proof reader and will be returned to me shortly and in the next day or two I should have finished my article. It's been 3 and half years of writing, re-writing, frustration, slide-shows, presentations, swearing, blood, sweat and tears. And there were times when I loved it. When I got home from a meeting with my study supervisor and it felt like all the work was coming together.

This year has been particularly interesting with regards to trying to work on my Masters. 10 days before my wedding I handed in the first full draft of my dissertation. I had a moment of glory before I fell completely into final preparations before my wedding. Coming back from honeymoon we had the basics in place in our house. The kettle and the couches and the beds were all there. But there were boxes of things, and bits and pieces of wedding leftovers everywhere which required attention.

So somewhere between auditioning, trying to put our new life together in a new city and getting a handle on eating healthy, meal preparations, and being a new wife finding the time for my Masters has been challenging. 

And as I stand at the precipice of finishing, I got asked something very interesting this weekend.

On Saturday I did a casting, and after waiting for three hours I did my ID in front of the camera and for the first time ever I was asked:

“Are you studying?”

“I’m finishing my Masters”

“In what?”

“Gender in South African cinema”

“Wow. That’s fantastic.”

Monday, 6 July 2015

The jet-set life is going to kill me.

When you work freelance plans are never easily made. Personal plans and travel plans are always placed on hold. Because you always hope that something will come up. A casting, an audition or maybe just, something that pays. Inevitably what happens is after eventually deciding to make a plan the night before you get an email from your agent and you end up cancelling on the last minute. Its an actors way of life.

And so after a meeting with a corporate to see if I would work for their show (who I cannot and will not name in the hope of being hired again) I got a phone call from my husband, quite literally as I got into my car to go back home:

“I have to go to Belgium for work. And you can come with”

Insert Friday evening date that my husband wanted us to leave

“And that way we get an extra weekend in Europe.”

Unfortunately the Friday my husband wanted to leave was the weekend of performances for the corporate I had just met with. Of course.

After one meet to see if I fitted the requirements all I knew was the rehearsal and performance dates, and that I fitted the requirements. And if of course, the “we’ll let you know” thing. I decided honesty was the best policy. And after settling on a minimal amount that I would do the contract for I phoned my contact at the company:

“I am not sure if you are planning on using me, but I just found out that I have an opportunity to go to Europe. So if you could let me know if you in fact want to use me, and what the contract details are so that I can decide about the opportunity I would really appreciate it. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, and would like to let all parties know as soon as possible”

And then I waited. That evening I received a phone call. They wanted to use me and they were offering double the minimum we were going for. The decision was made, and I would be doing the contract. That left the trip to Europe. My husband wiggled the dates, and we would be flying on separate flights. As his work would be paying for his flight, and we would be paying for mine I was on a much cheaper flight, and it was also later in the evening. Which we desperately needed as I would be working until about 4 on Sunday afternoon.

Which meant that on Sunday, after performing and dancing the whole day I would basically be going to straight to the airport stopping only for a quick shower. My packed luggage and carry-on bag was standing ready by the front door when I left my house that morning already.

After performing I stopped at home where my brother was already waiting for me as my husband was already checking in for his flight. I showered in record time (for my sake as much as the people who would be stuck sitting next to me) and we were out the door. My special travel bag with my flight details, earphones and passport in hand. 3 hours before my flight I confidently walked towards the gate to board my flight. As the airport attendant for British Airways paged through my passport she asked for my other passport. I didn’t understand why.

“When you fly through Heathrow you require a UK transit Visa”

“No, there’s my Schengen Visa. I just have a layover in Heathrow, I’m not even leaving Terminal 5.”

“You still need a UK Transit Visa because you are South African”

As you can imagine, I went into full panic mode. And phoned my husband. My options were to change my flight, or to go and get the visa on Monday morning. Like a spreading virus my brother was on the phone with contacts of his to find out about the visa, as were my husbands parents.
A manager from the ground staff of British Airways came and spoke to me.

“Have you been to Europe before?”

“Yes, but my old Schengen Visa is in my passport that expired.”

“Which country did you fly through?”


“Have you been to America before?”

I had. My American Visa, issued 9 years before was still valid for a year. Although it was in my expired passport, back at home. Apparently if I had a US Visa I didn't need a UK Transit Visa.

“How far away do you live?”

We had enough time to go back to my house and get my old passport and be back in time for my flight. So we did.

My brother, like an ocean of calm, drove me back and forth as I fielded phone calls. My husband phoned and googled to make 100% sure that my US Visa would be sufficient. And in all the chaos no one we spoke to had ever heard about the UK Transit Visa. It wasn’t even mentioned on the British Airways website. But apparently it was required. As I run into my flat the electricity was off due to load shedding, but I knew exactly where my old passport was.

As I returned with my old passport containing my US Visa my husband was already boarding his flight. As I checked in my luggage I called to tell him I was making my flight. His aeroplane was already moving onto the runway. A minute later and he would have had to turn off his phone. We were both on our way to Belgium.

One of our only sunny days in Europe, exploring the city of Brugges after my husband's meeting.

A week into our trip my husband and I were sitting on the edge of the Seine drinking a bottle of wine after walking around Paris all day. As I took of my shoes I could still see the blisters all over my feet from performing the weekend before.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Low budget life, laughter and load shedding.

Getting ready for my close-up.

A few weeks ago I got the amazing opportunity to play the lead character in a short film made for the My Rode Reel short film competition. My last, rather brief post, was about this film. You know its going to be something special when the script for a 3 minute short film has you doing an ugly cry in a restaurant while you’re reading it.

My Rode Reel is a 3 minute short film competition where the creators of the short film use rode microphones in order to make their short films, and the general public vote for their favourites. A friend of mine who I’ve worked with before, Henco J, called and asked if I would be available to work with is team. Then, as a newlywed, he asked where he would be able to buy a cheap wedding veil:

“I know of a few places. But if you want a real veil that will look good on film they tend to be expensive. Whose character will be using it, and what for?”

“We’re shooting a wedding scene, so your character will be wearing it”

“Well if it won’t get hurt we can use my veil from my wedding”

“Are you sure? And then we’ll hire you a wedding dress”

“Well, I have a wedding dress hanging in my cupboard that has only been used once, and I’m not planning on using it again any time soon”

“We really don’t need to use your dress”

“At least then I get to wear it again!”

A few days later I received my script, and the long list of costume changes I would need for the shoot. About 6 changes excluding my wedding dress. So bright and early on the morning of the shoot I packed what felt like half of my cupboard into my car and headed off to our first location.

I had learned in the past that suitcases don't work as well as barrels or tubs

At our first location I changed into the first costume chosen by the director and crew and in a small dimly lit bathroom. I started doing my makeup there, but realised I was relying on muscle memory more than what I was actually seeing, so I sent in the sunlight with a small compact to repair the damage and finish my makeup. 2 scenes later our art director helped me change into my wedding dress in a passage.

Having a candle lit supper thanks to load shedding, and a break
from filming.
There’s something amazingly freeing about low-budget filmmaking. There’s still a lot of stress on all sides, but you get to work with really amazing people because they all want to be there. Everyone working on the project is there because the film is something we all want to make. It's not just a job. If we weren’t telling each other about the ridiculous things we had done on set, or situations we had been in while waiting around on set we were creating new jokes. Especially as load shedding hit us and our scheduled 8pm wrap became a 11pm wrap.

And I got to do things I had never done before. I sat in a car with a camera fixed to the window via some suction mechanism and pointing at me as we drove. There was also another camera perched on a bakkie in front of our car as myself and the male lead Reynard Slabbert drove around a barely lit neighbourhood (thank you load shedding).

AND, we played with green-screen! I was challenged multiple times to keep a moment for a minute. Or to move in the exact same way I had before, hold my arm up in the same manner or redo something over and over and not change a muscle, angle or hair. All of which challenged me immensely!

And when I crawled into by bed at 1 in the morning I was tired, and greatly fulfilled. I do think, however, that our "making of" clip tells the story in a way I cannot:

Monday, 1 June 2015

Our Rode Reel: Disremember

As I start a new contract in quite literally an hour and a half my time is somewhat limited this morning. I will however be doing a post on all our behind the scenes antics later in this week.

But for now, here is the time I was part of's submission for the international My Rode Reel competition!

Thank you to everyone involved, and who deemed it wise to involve me! You will all be named and shamed in the next post!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Ah La Natural

As an actress, every two years actors need to get new headshots. It's one of those things. We got older, we change our hair, we change our routines (for better or worse) and we look different. I grew out my fringe, as well as the rest of my head of hair, and lost a few kilograms (gained them again and then lost them) in two years.  It was time for new headshots.

My cousin had shot my previous photographs. While studying photography she required a model to practice with, so I got play model for 2 hours one afternoon. We were having fun more than anything else and got some fantastic shots while we were doing it. I also learned a lot while we were shooting about posing and energy as it was the first time I was in a studio doing multiple photographs. I used the photos she gave me when trying to find an agent. Despite loving the old photographs it was time for new ones.

Photographs taken by my cousin Danielle Botha

The message from the photographer my agent uses to do our headshots said to keep my makeup natural. Something I would have done anyway as I want the photographs to show me as naturally as possible. Well, at least the best version of a natural me. I want to be able to be cast as a high-maintenance socialite and a clean faced scullery maid from the same set of photographs. When I walk through a door at a casting I want to look like my photograph. So I prepped for the session in the studio…

Once the hair was washed and conditioned, and all the places that needed to be shaved in the shower and plucked after the shower were shaved and plucked, I liberally sprayed heat protect in my hair. Then my mop was blow dried so that all my curls set properly. Otherwise half of my head looks great and the other half looks like I slept on it. Probably outside. Then the face started.

As a rule: no sunscreen or any products with zinc in them as they could make my face appear white in photos when photographed with a flash. Moisturizer, always in ample amounts, and then primer goes on to make sure that the foundation goes on smoothly. If I have a red pimple green base goes on the spot so as to camouflage the red and I end up looking like I’ve been marked to shoot a scene for special effects. Then the foundation goes on. The stuff that instantly builds confidence. I start with the shade that matches my skin. Then a shade lighter on my forehead, nose and cheekbones and shade darker beneath my cheekbones, side of my nose and temples in order to counter my face for the photographs and high light my cheekbones. Often lighting washes away one's bone structure so that your face appears flat in photographs so contouring helps to counteract that. Once the different smears of colour are all blended in to highlight my bone structure...OK, build my bone structure, the blush goes on. Just a little more cheekbone for me. Then my brow bones are highlighted, and the crease of my eye is shadowed. Close to the end I line my top line with liquid liner and put on a healthy coat of mascara which not only darkens my already black eyelashes, but thickens and extends them. Its natural, so that sets of strip and individual lashes remain at the bottom of my makeup box.
A clump!
Another brush is used to try and get rid of the blob of mascara on the end of a lash. When this proves futile I find a needle and use that to carefully separate the lashes which the waterproof mascara was attempting to weld together. The final touches include 8 hour cream for my lips and powder to set everything.
The curls need help. So I grab a curling tong and re-curl some of the hair around my face to shape it a little.

A foundation brush, blush brush, eye shadow brush, thin angle brush, mascara brush (needle) and powder brush, a blending sponge, 2 pallets for foundation and eyeshadow colour, waterproof liquid eyeliner, waterproof mascara, a hair dryer and curling iron and about an hour and a half later there I was.


Lady natural at least. If I was a guy I would arrive at the photographer freshly showered, perhaps with a little face cream on and a freshly shaved face. Ok, a face shaved when a girlfriend complained a day or two ago. And the photographer would brush some powder on them so that they don’t shine in front of the camera and they would have a different shirt there which they would change right there.


As I took my 6 changes of clothes home, base, mascara, powder and lip gloss required for changes and touch ups I was happy.

Photoshop will catch anything I missed.