Performing In China: Survival Guide.

Upon fixing up my website that I never really gave the goss on what being a full time performer was like, let alone in doing it in a culture so different as China. So, in dot point form- let me give you a general perspective of China!

1: If you drink alcohol, you’re fucked.
That can be a good thing, depending on which camp you come from on the issue. It can be ‘good’ fucked (Australians used this one), because it’s so cheap. Or it can be ‘bad’ fucked because unless you’re in for a very deadly game of Guess Who with bottles of what you thought were Whiskey ending up tasting like Paint Thinner and Liberal Party values, you might be better off not playing at all, and staying well clear.

However, it’s cheap as anything, and available 24 hours in convenience stores. So the experience won’t cost you too much. Just potentially your dignity and a bit of your liver.

2: Chinese theatres are weird.

The layout ranges from straightforward Chinese theatre, which still means you’re going to go up at least 2 flights of stare to get to the audience bay door from the stage- to NES cheat code complicated. It was the biggest impending heart attack, walking in costume to what you thought was the audience bay door, only to end up god knows where, turning back, going up left, down, right, B, B, B, A, B, SELECT- only to find the door is locked and mentally shitting yourself.

Not only that, but the audiences do ‘not’ follow Western rules at all. You can show up any time in the show, and be let in. You can go on your phone, during the whole performance and not be called out on it by staff. I may have taken advantage of my chagrin as I was making my way to the party scene in Romeo & Juliet, where, mask bound, I watched this person texting as the show went on. She had no idea, and hearing her tiny terrified gasp as she realized I was watching, was worth it. Stay off your phone, kids.

3: Vegetarian is a hard thing to pronounce in Chinese. Apparently.

Shu sai? Shoe soy? Fuck’s sake, just no meat. NO. MEAT. …This has shrimp. Could you pl… Oh, fuck it.

4: You get sick of people and they get sick of you.

It should go without saying, but yeah. Leave people alone when you can. When you ‘have’ to spend time with the same people, their little irritating things become massive, because you’re always exposed to it. Don’t feel bad about withdrawing. Took me a few days to understand my own needs. The tour got much better from there.

5: The smog, is as bad as you’ve read.
Get a mask, especially if you’re performing that night. The amount of pure muck you breathe in is simply incredible. But Climate Change is totes not real, eh?

6: Don’t be afraid of street food.
Look, I mean, use common sense- but I can tell you with certainty, my favourite foods came from street food in Jinan. Pineapple on sticks… jenbing… It’s all an experience, so take the leap!

7: Sweet stuff. Everywhere.
Chinese people love their sweet stuff. It’s everywhere. Even savory stuff tastes sweet. I love my sweets, and even I got sick of it. So… y’know, beware of that.

8: Grease aplenty.
When it’s not sweet it’s greasy. I didn’t make the rules, that’s just the way it is.

9: Traffic. All of it.
Fun fact, my second last day in China was a visit to a Stone Temple- it was 40 minutes away as predicted by google maps. By distance. But via traffic? 2 hours. Be prepared for mind numbing boredom in that regard.

10: Talk to the people!
While on that cab ride (yes, cab, that’s how cheap Yuan is to AUD, you can afford it), I talked to a cab driver named Tan. He loved the USA, basketball, his wife and son, and was also 20 grand in the hole from gambling. Another time I swear I could’ve hoked up with a masseus in Dalian, she was complimenting me that much, and even wanted a photo of me. Another time, I got a laugh staring back at Chef’s who were staring at the white people in the restaurant. Interact with the people, and your trip will be grand.

11: The Roads Are Awful. Sidewalks too.
Everyone has a bike. On the road or off. And no one gives a shit if you’re crossing the road. They will not stop for you. Cross at your own mortal peril. Also, so much honking of horns that you’ll start saying “I’m walking here!” unironically.

12: Take it one day at a time.
If you’re ever in the same situation, where you’re on a tour, and maybe suffer a teensy bit from mental illness- remember. Do what you gotta do. Read a book and take time for yourself, even if you feel like you’re missing out. Don’t let your anxiety take control of your behaviour, and always remember to be grateful you’re there, even if you feel like a square peg in a round hole at times.

Want more stories from China? Hit me up, yo!

LLAP

-Jack
http://www.jackinaction.com

 

 

 

I’m a 2000 man

Because when I was 15 I would name my livejournal blogs with song titles stuck in my head at the time.

As Wil Wheaton tends to do, he has inspired me to let loose a little bit with the structure I’ve given myself for this blog. Because the thing is, this is still a blog. A diary. A journal. It doesn’t have to be anymore serious than I want it to be.

I want to be open, I want to be honest, and I want to try and share my journey more.

So! With that in my mind: Let’s look at my December, pros and cons.

Pros:

I have money in my account, and that’s just swell. Supanova paid me (I’m an MC now!), work is coming along nicely in the childcare realm, and I’m excited for the future of not depending on my government for handouts.

I have a callback tonight! It’s for a feature film where I play a man with slight autism. That ought to be really interesting to play. I’m very excited.

Feature film script is coming along nicely. I’m 45 pages in which means I’m officially halfway to the minimum amount of pages. I think I’ll surpass that easily. That said there’s a lot of revision to do, and I’m gonna utilise every writer friend I know to make the polish I need.

My personal life is calm. I can be lazy and uninspired, unlike my focused partner, who has a full time job and a straightforward career. I take that in my stride though. I know the path I chose, and I know that I can make things happen. I just have to make things happen. No one can do it for me.

Christmas is here. I personally don’t give a shit but Issy likes it and Shez my cat like to try to eat the christmas tree. Plus, I get gifts for the first time since forever now that I’m with her. It’s nice to be appreciated.

And finally! I’ve joined a gym. Overall I’d give my attendance a C, especially since when I go there I tend to overwork myself and need to recover and then get lazy, but I’m going of my free will and not for some stupid new years resolution, so that’s something.

Overwatch. I’m having so much fun having something to focus on. It’s like sport but less filled with mysogyny. Funfunfunfun.

Cons

All those dead people. You know who they are. I don’t need or want to get into it. But everyone, please, keep Patrick Stewart safe.

I have RAW Comedy Competition in January and I’m scared as fuck. I’m a much more experienced actor and comedy is still very new. Every time I step on stage it’s like learning to walk. But this is for new performers and I certainly fit the bill.

My theatre restaurant show got cancelled. Temporarily, but still, a bummer. It always is when a paid gig gets put off. Daddy needs his honey!

I got a haircut and they cut too much and I kinda hate it. I want my viking braids back. 😥

Certain workplaces are less than awesome. Won’t name names. But I will tell you that one team leader munches on food in the backroom like the rest of them but I’m not allowed to. So that’s super fun.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with myself, and I’m gonna try and write some jokes out for January 21 Raw comp. AHHHHHHHHHH.

Take care home slices!

-Jack
http://www.jackinaction.com

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!

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 The Heck Do I Want?

In which Jack wonders whether he’s juggling too many balls in the entertainment industry circus.

Another short one, and spoiler alert, this is depression/lack of self worth speaking.

So recently I’ve just gotten back into seriously giving acting a go. And in all seriousness, I’m doing kinda well. I have four auditions this week, some paid, some not and I don’t even have an agent. I’m trying to empower myself to write every day and try to get words on paper in regards to a pitch for a pop culture related TV show. In short:

I am doing many things.

So why do I feel like shit about it?

My partner Issy listed a concern that has been plaguing my mind since- “I think you’ve got your fingers in too many pies.”

This isn’t news to anybody who knows me.

I do kids parties:

kids party bumblebeeWhat’s that? My instagram? Follow me if you want. :3

Film

20150302_122427
Find the product placement!

Educational Performance

racq docudrama
Well he called me chicken! NOBODY CALLS ME CHICKEN!

Comedy

comedy still
That place isn’t a comedy venue anymore. I blame myself.

And Voice Acting

voice acting anti hero

Today I have an audition for a radio serial with other creative comedians, and I’m super excited. But I yearn for results on paper. Real, tangible success, ideally in money form.

Remember that Beyonce article I wrote? It still holds true. But the problem, I’ve come to realize- is I don’t know what I want. I’m 24. I’m good at writing stories, I’m good at making voices, I’m good at making people laugh and I’m good at pretending to be someone else.

Which begs the question? Am I doomed to live a life of mediocrity because I can’t “get focused enough”? Do I really have to plod through who knows how much mediocre film scripts or uninspired comedy shows because I’ve got to pick one thing?

My desire for respect says yes. But my creative urges say Fuck. That.

So what do do? I guess it’s just a long journey of me growing to accept that it might not get me to the position I want in life (at least not any time soon), but I can’t give up any of these things I do that make me happy, anymore than I could choose which child to abandon.

I’m with these shitty, unprofitable kids to the end. I just hope they’ll start help paying the rent soon.

Update: I got the gig! I’m gonna be in a radio serial! Hooray!

Snapshot_20160117_2

-Jack

 

Individuality vs The Entertainment Business

So I’ll keep this short, it’s 3:52 AM and I’ve been playing Freddie Mercury interviews because right now apparently I don’t feel sad enough. I wanted to discuss something, potentially with likeminded creatives/actors and you, no matter what you do, if you’ve got something you want to say about it.

As we all know, we’ve lost many greats in this month alone. 2016 is shaping to be a pretty grim year, particularly for fans of British anything (which I am, massively). Bowie, Lemmy, and Alan Rickman and we’re all crossing our fingers that that’s all for one year, thank you very much.


Word.

But the thing about these people, despite the fact they’ve no doubt influenced your childhood/life/taste in one way or another- is they’re freaking mad. No really. They were renegades in their fields. People who didn’t fit in the playing field so much as dig a man size ditch, jump in and responded anyone trying to shove them out with a hearty FUCK OFF and a poke of the shovel.

They were absolutely folk that we responded to for that reason. We wanted to be as happy as they were to be themselves. I did too. I do too.

But, I consider myself a performer first and foremost (I used to call myself just an actor, not so anymore- that’s a story for another day)- and as such I work* in the entertainment industry, and they do not  encourage renegades.

There was an article I read about what it took to be cool, and, pompous as that concept was, it did raise an interesting point about how people buying out the entire radio business essentially killed music movement as we used to know them: 60’s psychelics, 70’s punk, 80’s electronic, 90’s grunge- countercultures, the article argued had effectively died with this move, and it shows in the entertainment industry. Every new young and hip ‘rock’  embraced by mainstream culture looks like Mumford and Sons.

This isn’t just in music though. More than ever before, folks are looking for strong men to lead the charge in acting. It’s no surprise Chris Hemsworth is the face of Australian tourism- like it or not, it’s what people want on their screens now more than ever.

And here I am- the birth result of a troll and a lorikeet, growing out my hair and wanting tattoos… and I really don’t feel like I belong. And I know, I know, I should follow the people who’ve passed this month’s example- dig my ditch and defend it.

But honestly? I don’t actually know if I even have the ability to dig my own ditch anymore. I fear our need for safe entertainment and reality TV on public channels has removed my chance at even getting a grip on the shovel.

Still, if they’ve locked it up in the shed, I guess now’s as good a time as ever to try and find me some bolt cutters. God knows that I can’t give up now.

First photoshoot in the morning. My first real step back into acting in about a year. Wish me luck.

Good night/morning.

*when I get paid