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Acting at 39,000 feet

At an altitude of 39,000 feet with a ground speed of 590 mph and arrival in Sydney in 4.05 hours I am flying between the Exmouth and Wallaby Plateaux. How do I know this? … because the flat TV screen embedded into the aircraft seat in front of me tells me so.

It also means that in the time I have flown leg 1 to Abu Dhabi and the leg 2 to New South Wales; I have managed to creatively consume 2 Oscar winning movies: The Revenant, Carol, the stunning documentary Listen To Me Marlon and a French language drama Le Sac de Farine (The Bag of Flour) set in Belgium and Morocco.


It's always such a treat to watch great seasoned screen actors like Leonardo DeCaprio and Cate Blanchett and boy do the supporting actors give them a run for their money too - Tom Hardy and Rooney Mara. However, the one that cracked my heart was 7-year-old actress Rania Mellouli.


Her soulful honesty, vulnerability but determined core was breathtaking and touching. She really told us – in no uncertain terms - her costly story in Le Sac De Farine where she was whisked without warning from the austere but safe confines of the Belgium convent school to the Atlas Mountains where classes consisted only of knitting, cooking and taking the daily bread dough to the local bakers oven.


As a middle-aged returning actress with a huge creative appetite to work – and one that comes from a decade and a half away from something you now KNOW you want to work at for the rest of your life - I love it that it is as my ‘maturer’ self, starting over that is so attracted to the acting of a small child. One I most want to learn from. Simple, truthful, not over thought or pushed, just real. Innocent, liberated, un-censored.


Ironically it was also a message from Marlon Brando, himself, also scooped up on my UK to Sydney flight 'screen-feast' and lifted from Listen to me Marlon that continues this theme… He said: “We develop the technique of acting from an early age when we are a child...when we throw our oatmeal on the floor - we are trying to get our mother's attention. Acting is surviving.”


So here I am reflecting on all this ... child-like wonder and determination, survival, needing to tell a story, my story, in the context of now 2.5 years back in my originating industry after an 18-year break. Likely viewed as one caster told me - as an 'experienced' newcomer'. Yes, it feels like I am definitely that. And I am seeking to find my place, throw my own essence of oatmeal on the floor, and yes not over think or push it all too.


I am coming to Sydney with a very successful UK show that is opening Sydney Theatre Company’s autumn season. And - I am understudying, walking understudying. Ironically, half way round the world to sit, ever ready, ever wired, ever reliable and particularly hungry ... in a dressing room for 5 weeks.


Is that what I hoped for? Is that what I aspire to? Is understudying so tough ... especially on a great gig? Is it something I can learn from?


Bottom line. Hard core facts - I am working. I am trusted to deliver. I am very fortunate to be paid - and well - to come all the way to the Southern hemisphere as an actor, gainfully employed (after a relatively short while back in the business) and to part of a company in a hot ticket UK show. And - let's not forget - to one of the most desirable global cities on the planet.


Returning actress - yes? Returned actress - you bet. And one thing is sure I am hunkered down and ready to go ...


More documented blogging adventures on the strategies of my ‘oatmeal throwing‘ to come ...

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