THE BIG NEWS (In Story Form!)

For those that can’t be bothered reading this story I went out of my way to create- there’s a TL;DR right at the bottom. 😉

My office chair won’t bend backwards and I frustratingly push against it with all my might as I search the casting calls for this week on various social networks. One immediately catches my eye: SHAKESPEARE TOUR. WOW! What a wonderful gig that would be- travel around, bringing the bard’s words to life.

PAID?! Holy crap! Sign me up!

IN CHINA!

Huh?

Don’t get me wrong, I love China very much- I’d visited before on a different tour in fact! Love me some toilets that are essentially holes in the ground-

china trip 2Featured- Me In China. That’s not a hole in the ground btw, that’s The Great Wall. Kinda the opposite. Anyway.

That wasn’t the source of skepticism. It was the classic gut feeling of “This seems too good to be true”.

I’m a professional actor, and one of the first things you need to accept if you want to go down that path, or the path of any  artist, really- it’s that people are going to take advantage of you. If they can get away with it, they will use you and never compensate you for your time and effort.

And this? To me it legitimately sounded like a spam email .

COME TOUR SHAKESPEARE IN CHINA. ALSO SEXY SINGLES WANT YOUR DICK AND NIGERIAN PRINCES WANT YOU TO HAVE THEIR MONEY.

With this in mind, I cautiously put my name down to be considered, and a few emails later, there I was, sitting with other young and a few mid 40’s hopefuls. It’s not crowded, but it’s certainly not an open space to do your voice trills either– but I do my best to go over my lines and shoot the shit with my fellow performers. There’s always a temptation to not talk to ‘the competition’- don’t be that guy, dudes. If they hire the other guy, they do, and you feeling tense and giving the side eye to everyone else in the room will help your case not a bit.

After a time, I’m the only guy left in the room and I begin to play my warm up music. The entirety of KISS: ALIVE! A live album I’ve always got on my phone to psyche myself up. Yes, I know. Egh- KISS- what a bunch of posers. But to me they are the epitome of my values on stage- work your fucking tail off and give the audience what they paid to see. Every. Time. It’s hard not to feel invincible when I have Let Me Go Rock N’ Roll going- and I just let loose.

It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you warm up to these dudes.

Just as I’m really getting into it, letting my hair down and doing some air kicks- Chris- the co director and the wizard behind the curtain of this production, tells me to come in. I’m a little embarrassed- normally I use headphones- but since I was alone I was playing it full blast. I shake it off and walk in with confidence.

Entering the room I meet another director- one who’s very friendly- the good cop to Chris’ aloof persona. I introduce myself and get going performing the famous “All The World’s A Stage” monologue by Jacque from As You Like It. This along with my go to contemporary monologue (there is no record of it as it’s from a play I did in my university days)- make me feel pretty confident, I shake hands and leave.

An hour later- I get an email “CAN YOU COME BACK TOMORROW”

Um? Hell yes?

r2d2 beeps happily

The day flutters by quickly and there I am again with Chris and his codirector- they greet me and say “Are you ready to perform your Macbeth piece?”

“…Huh?”

Turns out they hadn’t sent me the email with the piece they wanted me to learn for the audition that night- meaning I was already handicapped. They said it was fine, I could just do Jacques’ monologue again.

lenny focus

Terror enters me. “It’s FINE? I don’t want FINE. I want GREAT! BRILLIANT! AMAZING! GODDAMNIT!” This flashes through my head in a split second, but I smile bravely and try not to let uncertainty enter my bloodstream- to be uncertain is death.

I take a deep breath, put my Jacques skin back on and this time I hold nothing back. I am sultry, I am slinky, I am sad at the state of the world- so sad I have to laugh. I see a stage in my peripheral vision and I RUN for it at full pelt- it’s at least 20 metres away, every second of silence gnaws at me, but uncertainty is not on the menu tonight.

Impressed, the codirector asks me to deliver the same monologue, as an older professor, tranquil. Still. Well, anyone who knows me knows who I wanted to emulate in that moment.

So I channel my inner Jean Luc/Patrick Stewart and I imagine myself behind a podium, restricting my movement and act like I’m teaching at a lecture hall, my voice as deep as I can achieve. I click my fingers at an imaginary chatterer- pay attention! I say with my eyes as I continue irritably with my lecture- and I laugh as an old man with experience as I talk about the lover, sighing like a furnace, my students comfort be damned.

I think that’s what did it. They smile. The codirector asks me- “Where did you study?” and I have to be honest- Griffith University in QLD- and he responds with “I can normally tell instantly what school people come from- WAAPA, NIDA, VCA, but your style is so unique.” I grin, I thank him. I shake hands- I walk out.

I wasn’t certain of course. You should never be 100% certain in these things, always looking forward in case it doesn’t work out. Plus, it saves you from utter heartbreak. Every time I ignore that rule, it reminds me hard why I should always follow it.

But it seems this one was meant to be. I got an email- many moons ago now- confirming my involvement in two plays for the month of April 2017- Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and character unconfirmed (GO BENEDICK!) in Much Ado About Nothing. I didn’t want to make a fuss about this until I signed the contract, but now I have.

I will be touring for a month, fully paid, all expenses paid through the tour- and I couldn’t be more excited. I can now consider myself a professional even more than I did before. I am so grateful, and thank you to everyone for your support while I’ve been biting my knuckles trying not to tell everyone. Thank you.

Now I’m off to play some Witcher 3! TEAM TRISS!

-Jack

TL;DR: I auditioned for a Shakespeare show and I got it, I’m touring China in April for a month and it’s paid and its awesome. YEEHA!

 

 

A Story About How I’m A Bad Person

Generally, when something bad happens to me, I initially feel pissed off. Everyone does, I’d say, except uber trained Super Monks. After that initial feeling of rage though, I make an active effort to let this stuff go.

This isn’t, sadly, because I’ve made a positive step to making my life better… It’s simply that my feeling angry about people being shitty to me would make me a massive goddamn hypocrite. Let me give you an example.

It’s the 90’s. I don’t recall what year anymore (which makes me pretty sad to be honest), and my father, brother and I are at a beach we often frequent on the borders of Queensland and New South Wales. Generally on our arrival, this would be my cue to go and climb the cliff, 35 metres high at least, to the extreme anxiety (later, chagrin) of my parents. But today we had boogey boards, so into the surf we went.

It was fairly routine that day, we swam out deep, avoided the humongous sharp rocks that littered the shallows, caught a wave and held on tight. Repeat. Immense joy, and bonding without words.

Now, our dad had made it clear if we ever encountered a rip, essentially where the sea was trying to drag you in a certain direction- it was important not to fight it, which is exactly what my brother, Kirby, deigned to do as I was towling off and enjoying the sunshine.

But one thing he could do? Scream. And he did that plenty.

“DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD! HEEEEEEEEEELP!” he cried out, his ginger curls obscuring his face, as with each wave he found himself slamming into a rock with only his foam board for protection.

In reality, Kirby was in no real danger, his boogey board was more than sufficient, and Kirby wasn’t drowning, Dad was an accomplished swimmer, already wading out to protect him, and the situation was under control.

But the truth of the matter is, to me, the sight of my 7 year old brother being tossed around like a beetle in a jar, was absolutely friggin’ hilarious to me.

All bullshit I could tell myself aside, that’s as far as it went for me, my brother in seemingly mortal danger just tickled my funny bone in the right way. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t nice, it certainly wasn’t brotherly, but it was goddamn funny.

To this day, I still laugh at inappropriate situations, when friends, family, and even myself are in trouble.

That’s what I remind myself, every time I wanna get mad about someone stealing my food from the fridge, or leaving my shit on the train. “I probably deserve this.”

Thing is? Even if I’m wrong? It’s a surprisingly effective remedy. Maybe try it. You shitbag.

Find me on my website or buy tickets to my comedy show on the 2nd of July in Melbourne!

My cap would be glad of a copper or two

In my childhood, one of my fondest memories is the joy of popping into a Video Rental Store (ask your parents, children) and grabbing the VHS for Mary Poppins. Again. My adult self giggles in retrospect to be honest, because god knows we rented that goddamn tape from that little store so many times throughout the years that my mother may as well have bought me a tape of my own long ago. Maybe she simply liked the tradition and consistency of my grabbing the tape as she looked through the “boring adult” section of new releases.

And my favourite character? Bert. I mean, come on, who couldn’t love that chimney sweeping, art making, one man big band scallywag? I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the affect he had on my young life. He made me realize that you need not be ashamed of your work- as long as you’re passionate about it, that the process is the joy, to have a sense of humor about yourself, and probably most importantly- money matters little.

I’ve struggled with that in adult years, as I found out slowly but surely that Walt Disney had not engineered our lives, and that money in  fact matters  a lot. We need it to eat, we need it to keep warm, and, like it or not- it’s what people use to define you as a professional or amateur artist. Is he making a living or not?

Well- it depends what you mean by “living”, I suppose. I need art to live, like anybody; and my art cannot, could not, would not live without me. Is that enough?

Should it be enough?

I found myself wondering this as I came down from the stage of my first comedy show in Melbourne. I was excited just to be on the poster, and to get on stage, and I knew, if successful, money would come. Or not! It didn’t matter.

Well put simply? It was wonderful. I hadn’t practiced in months and it was my first time being a comedy show MC. I’m not going to lie, I felt I probably sucked a little, but made up for it enthusiasm. The acts were varied, strange, bouncy and quick as a whip, warm and dry… it was so wonderful being the ringmaster of that crazy circus… and I learned a lot.

I thanked the audience for coming, and pick up my bag to leave. All of a sudden, the host, Lawal, and the guy that brought me on board to the show, shoved some money into my hand. This was not expected. We had agreed this would be pro bono. An experiment… Yet there was the money, being placed into my hand.

“You did a wonderful job”, Lawal said. “Thank you.”
I was flabbergasted.
“Holy fuck mate, no, thank you” I said, putting the cash into my pocket without a word of protest.
“It really means a lot.”

He clapped my shoulder, smiled and went to talk to someone else. I could feel the cash burning in my pocket. Was I a professional now? What did it all mean?

Did I deserve this? Guilt began to rear it’s ugly head.

And then, my favourite worst cockney accent of all time popped into my head.

No remuneration do I ask of you, but me cap would be glad of a copper or two!”

Pride took its place as I made my way to my car. Who can say it better really?

 

This Does Not Justify Abuse

It is the 4th of September 2009, and I am carting my suitcase with all the belongings I can fit inside down Dodwell Street, turning right like I had on so many school mornings, on the way to the bus station. Today, I have tears streaming down my face.This is not, as much as I’d like to admit it- the first time this has occurred. But the suitcase is new. My father’s voice rings in my ears as I plod down the asphalt, I remember with a shiver, as he walks into the room.

Entering without knocking, he demands to know where my latest performance of”Sweeney Todd” DVD was- I told him the truth- I had no idea. The performance was filmed but the show had been lost to the sands of time. I had tried every person available who would talk to me to track it down, to show off my first leading role on the stage- but to no avail. This was the time where a rational mind would shrug, and move on to more important things. This was not acceptable. My young memory does not lend itself to the entire statement my father made; but I remember the words “I’m sick of it!” before he punched me in the face for the final time.

It is the 24th of September 2008, I stand on the Great Wall Of China, breathing in the chilly air and posing for a photo. I have been listening to Muse’s “Apocalypse Please” on my CD player as the fog slowly dissipates and I climb slowly higher to reveal the breathtaking landscape beneath me and the lyrics scream “AND THIS IS THE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEND! THIS IS THE EEEEEEEEEEEEND! OF THE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORLD!”. It is one of the most surreal moments of my young life. I am celebrating my 18th birthday, all expenses paid by my family.

It is  August 2003. I am in Japan eating fish with a loving and nurturing host family who have the most adorable toddler of all time, and who put up with my weird habits of visiting the Official Sly Cooper Website, checking for announcements of the latest sequel of a video game of my favourite Anthropomorphised Raccoon Thief- at all hours of the night. I drink green tea and almost get conned by african american cap dealers and get a whole concert hall of Japanese school children to waggle their eyebrows at me back and forth as we wait in a state of boredom for the friendship ceremony tributes to finish.

All expenses paid by- take a guess.

Our parents, if they are right for the job, will do the best they can with the child and tools they have. They will try to make you strong, smart, and independent. They will test you, and above all they will support you. My parents did those things, because they believed in me. Countless concerts, rehearsals, lessons of instruments, karate, rugby, holidays, restaurant bills- the list goes on.

It is December 2008. I am being told “You are scum” by my father, on a bus to Rome. This vitriol stems from my lack of hearing his request to pull my seat up, to give him more leg room. With headphones on. Yet, I tried to take it with a brave face and absorb the beauty of my European trip, all expenses paid by my family. And the trip “was” beautiful, I met a love of my life there. I kissed her in the darkness and held her hand at a Welsh Lake which will be ingrained in my memory forever. I ate cotton candy with my brother Kirby at the Eiffel Tower, and I basked in the warmth and smell of mulled wine with my mother in Rothenburg.

But this does not justify abuse.

I was homeless.

I depended on the friendship of friends for a long time, and it has affected my trust and need for companionship and parental figures ever since. I am a insecure depressed individual who appears brash and arrogant because that is all I knew how to be in my family. 

There are two things however, I do not mention on a regular basis about my history of abuse in my family.

The first is this: My father was not the only guilty party. He does not deserve that blame alone.

The second: My mother, who I love as dearly as my father, despite everything- did nothing to stop the abuse happening in my family. And while hers was of a less emotionally harmful variety, she was no stranger to abuse when things got heated. Name calling and gaslighting was, sadly, a common technique.

She never made my father get therapy like I requested.

She never physically intervened when my father and I fought.

She never once called the authorities.

Because to her, she never saw it as abuse. She likely still doesn’t.

It is this month of May, 2016, and my family and I have fought again. This time, it is about opening my mouth. I had posted an article about abuse, estrangement and mother’s day, where I lamented that no matter what I was never going to be close with my mother. She read it, despite my privacy settings specifically stating that she ‘couldn’t’ and began a furious tirade I had not seen in some time. A tirade of how ungrateful I was and how much she had done, she demanded I take it down and publicly apologise, and what do I REALLY think of her?!

This, as it turns out, was a long time coming. See, as hard as it is to imagine. My family still has issues understanding my resentment. Despite the, y’know, homelessness. They consider it a rough patch in an otherwise healthy relationship. Despite, y’know, the beatings.

What do I think of her? As it turns out it’s what I think of my entire family.

I will never ever forget the things they’ve done. They’ve shaped me, helped me become the person I am. They’ve instilled in me a sense of pride in my work and a passion for helping out the little guy. They’ve tried their best to understand my passions.

But not once, for a second- do I believe they have tried to understand my pain and disappointment. Through their actions, and I say they for a reason- I was left to fend for myself. They have been willfully ignorant, happy to resort to emotional blackmail stating “All The Things They’ve Done” like the things above, to justify their current behaviour.

And, at the end of the day, have made no effort to change.

At the end of the day, they beat their child.

Not once have I heard an apology from them for initiating it, or for letting it happen, and continuing to justify it.

They did many things, and I love them despite their failings.

But this does not justify abuse. And I refuse to keep my mouth shut, just to make them comfortable.

I just can’t do that anymore.

A Professional Update!

Hello friends! I’ll be honest- I’ve got no issue writing down stories here, but updating as an actor here is kind of a new thing for me. Still, I’m excited about a bunch of things coming up, so I thought I’d spread that enthusiasm like fairy dust.

First, I made my first film appearance in a year playing the android Lukas in Thomas Carroll’s Terminal Kingdom. It was an incredibly interesting experience, doing mocap, and I can’t wait to do more work!

I know, I know, something something, you seem a little blank.

Jamoke, The Radio Play I had a wonderful time playing the second banana Devon, will be recording again on the 19th! Exciting stuff, and it gets me closer to one day voicing for animation. Dreams in the making! You can listen below:

I also have an audition for a comedy show! 5 bucks to guess if it’s paid or not.

Did you guess unpaid? Good for you! Pay yourself 5 bucks. C’est la vie.

AND! I have an audition for Macbeth here in Melbourne. Hugely excited to tackle Shakespeare again… we’ll see how it all goes!

That’s it for now, I’m gonna write an update on a audition I had recently later on today, so stay tuned for that. Or maybe go watch some TV or something, I’m not the boss of you.

Cheers!
-Jack

What if I’m full of it?

4/04/16: A quick note. Depression Lies. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are willing to repeat that they’re on my side ad nauseum, and I am forever grateful. If you need to talk, no matter who you are, please don’t hesitate to contact me. This is an entry about my inner fraud police.

1st of April, 5:30 PM: At this moment, I am sitting on a train bound for Melbourne Central, audio book in my ears, deep measured breaths in my chest, eyes squinting… From allergies.

Yeah. Allergies.

Today has been a weird sort of one. I woke up with tangible nightmares that kept me glued to my bed. They were chronological, like a story, and they all had to do with what a failure I was in life. I remember flashes of previous jobs, loves and friends, all reminding me about the pointlessness of anything. I’ve had these sorts of dreams since I was small, and am lucky in that way, I suppose; even when my brain is being a shithead, it wants to do it in a storytelling way. I felt compelled to continue them to somehow find a happy ending. I wanted to go back to sleep, and the prospect of spending another day with the horrendous bitch of a woman, who was the head of the Toddler Room in the Child Care Centre I was training in, only sharpened my resolve. If I wanted to be belittled or ignored, I would at least do it in the safety of my home.

8:10 AM: I send an email to let them know I won’t be coming in for my four hour window, I feel too shitty. That part wasn’t a lie. But I used the term “ill”. Because “I feel depressed” still seems like bullshit.

It’s a few weeks ago, and after announcing I’m going to see a psychologist, the one doctor I had the courage to call didn’t call me back for two weeks. Our two minute conversation was, paraphrased: “Hi, I don’t do bulk billing” “Oh, well I can’t afford it otherwise, I don’t have a health card yet-“ “Oh, I’m sorry.” “Yeah. Okay. Bye.”

I didn’t have the bravery to try searching again to find another doctor. Since then I’ve rode the wave of happiness that came with initiative and depression that followed quickly thereafter, like a dickhead still raving at 6 AM, long after the party is finished.

I know in my heart, I should continue the search. But I don’t. Like an addict, I am easily able to take minimal effort and claim it’s not meant to be when it doesn’t work.

In truth… I am mostly afraid of seeing a Doctor because I fear them telling me I’m full of shit. “There’s nothing wrong with you and you should’ve gotten out of bed and rode the tide of your shitty day, crippling nightmares or not.

I doubt myself every day, and I doubt my own assumptions about my mental health even more. I feel my own pretentious crap swirl around me every time I feel the need to take a “mental health day”. What makes me think I fucking deserve it?

And the one person who can verify this… I am afraid to see. I am afraid to be judged. I’m afraid I’m literally full of shit.

4.30 PM: I have slept all day, hating myself all the while. I force myself to do at least one adult thing. I call Victoria Roads to try and get my Victorian license and be a legit bill paying adult.

4.45 PM: Hang up the phone in frustration as I fail to remember the one address out of 14 that I lived in in 5 years that my QLD license was registered to.

5 PM: Deal with my shame as I tell Issy, my partner in everything, the truth. I didn’t go because I felt sad. She was shocked and disappointed. Or maybe just the latter.

Now: I text her, telling her I love her for being the one person I can trust to kick my ass when it needs to be kicked, and I will never lie to her, no matter how ashamed of myself I am. She texts me back, with no judgement saying: “How can I motivate you better to get up in the mornings?

What a trip it is to hear your thoughts, your feelings spoken, to see them heard, and most of all, for them to be taken seriously. Validation, vindication… Catharsis… And breathe.

My audio book seranades me. I take deep measured breaths, and I squint my eyes. They well up slightly.

From allergies.

Keyboards=Life?

I haven’t written in a while, and there’s a bunch of reasons why that I don’t particularly want to get into- but I have an observation I feel like jotting down.

Bit by bit, my computer has slowly been losing its keys. I am now missing… Hold on…

5 keys, and two are barely holding on. This makes writing not difficult per se, but harder, certainly. So I have a proposition.

Consider for a moment that every person has a full keyboard to type on. This keyboard is opportunities for life, love and happiness.

Now think of race, gender, sexuality, creed and all the other things that can be used against you, just for being who you are. Add greed, willful ignorance, and sadism, and a dash of “FUCK THIS SJW POLITICAL CORRECTNESS”

Imagine that each of these is a key ripped off the board. Maybe for some it’s not too bad. Like your “b” or “j”. Maybe for others, though, it’s a vowel “A, U, O”… Imagine having to try to type like that for the rest of your life, maybe never even knowing any other way.

If you’re not white, male and straight…? You probably know a little bit of what I’m talking about.

Let’s cut the bullshit a bit at a time.