I consider myself rather bilingual. I speak English to my mom and Afrikaans to my father. And despite going to school in English, and thinking in English, I speak Afrikaans to my husband and I dream in both languages. Despite discovering a year or so ago when watching old home movies that I actually started speaking Afrikaans before I started speaking English, I am definitely more comfortable in English. This was confirmed this past week.
I received two scripts in two different languages late in the afternoon. As per usual, they were for the next morning. I started with the Afrikaans one first. It felt as if it was translated using google translate. The script was unnecessarily wordy, and the language quite archaic for something that is supposed to be used for television. As Afrikaans is a consonant heavy language, with hard sounds that makes it even worse. I spent about an hour and a half memorizing the Afrikaans scripts. The cursing really helped to get my muscles of articulation going. I couldn't help but wonder of the neighbour we share a wall with could hear me. Saying a few lines, ruffle pages and then curse. In both langues, I might add.
It took me about 15 minutes to memorise the English scripts.
It happens so often when you receive scripts in two languages. The English script is written, and then someone tries to translate into another language. But you can’t always translate something exactly, word for word. That’s when you end up with messy sentences, that don’t flow naturally, and frustrated actors who pace up and down their homes swearing every few minutes with copy in their hands. At eleven at night. When a script it well written its easy to memorise. It's the badly written pieces of copy that are difficult to memorise. Or when the writer isn't comfortable with the jargon.
The next morning I recited my scripts in the shower. I recited them as I was doing my makeup. I did all my exercises to make sure that my voice was warmed and all my muscles of articulation were ready for this job they had to do. They were going to work hard. I had memorised my scripts. I knew what I was doing. I wasn't swearing so much anymore.
When I walked into the casting director’s offices I was wired for sound. I was white balanced, and informed that I looked good, and not blue on camera. In the back of my mind I wandered how often I looked blue on camera.
“Ok sweetheart” the American accent informed me “Just give me the first paragraph.” I wasn’t sure if I was insulted or relieved. I knew the whole thing.
It was good though, as the first take didn’t go particularly well.
But on the second take I nailed it. I knew I nailed, because the casting director told me so. I did two paragraphs, in a fun and energetic, yet classy and charismatic way. Acting is a world of adjectives.
Oh the Afrikaans. The Afrikaans that I had spent so much time on, didn’t go that well. I managed to get through my paragraph, but the end of the second paragraph it got a bit muddled. I spoke with charisma and energy, in a classy and fun way, but the words became more my own and less of the script toward the end. The American didn’t know.
She told me it went great.
I said thank you and left.
I messaged my husband from my car, after smiling, thanking the casting director and leaving.
“The English went well. The casting director said I did it really well.”
“Not so much”
“There’s always the next audition.”
As per usual, this exchange happened in Afrikaans.