In my Edinburgh Fringe show I talk, in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, about my top tips for acting. When I first wrote the show in 2016, I had four top tips that I wrote out on a flipchart.
When we revisit the show this summer, there are some more that I want to include.
My best, best tip is to do with 10,000 hours theory. I am a big convert to the theory of growth mindset and to the idea that genius is attributable to 10,000 hours of practice, rather than innate talent.
There's a rub though - you need to do "effortful" practice. "Effortful practice" means attempting things that are just outside of your competence, rather than coasting along practising something that you have already mastered.
A great example is ice-skating. Top ice-skaters have fallen on their arse three times as often as weaker skaters. This is as a result of their attempting harder challenges.
The analogy for acting is clear. Top actors are those who have made a tit of themselves in public three times more often than other actors.
I am finding the process of taking a show to Edinburgh stressful. Does that happen to everyone?
The venue (theSpaceUK) has been brilliant, and has sent me a booklet with all the important things to do and the dates by which to do them. They also email me before every deadline, which in at least one case has stopped me missing something important.
I've had so much advice from friends of friends. How to write a press release, how to do digital marketing, when to flier.
And the outcome has been that I've ended up with a big fat to do list that just makes me want to hide my head under a duvet somewhere. And that's even before working on the show itself!
So how fantastic to talk to Anna Sheard this week, who is helping me with my marketing. She loves the show, the understands the point of it better than I do (no really, when someone asks me "so what's your show about?" I just freeze), she has ideas for what to do to get it out there and even better she is helping to actually do the things and lightening my load.
This week, for the first time since I committed to do this, I'm starting to think that it might be fun to do a show. And maybe even to market it.
The theme of this week has been Not Doing.
A mantra for acting is "Don't act the scene, let the scene act you." I believe in this a lot and try to use it very much in my acting.
Yesterday I was discussing how to make decisions and optimise your thinking with a group of CEOs. I am trying to make more decisions by Not Doing, Not Thinking, Not Planning.
I also had a conversation with a project manager about how to deal with a set of impossible deadlines. Not Doing seems almost paradoxical in this instance. And yet it's what I recommended to her...
Photo: Kim Hardy
Right now I’m on a rest day in the middle of a two week feature film shoot. It’s my first lead role in an independent feature and I’m here because (in addition to the luck and privilege that I’ve had all my life) I made my own work.
In the summer I’m going to Edinburgh fringe festival with a work that I made myself. All of my best and stretching roles have been in productions that I have engineered. Ever since the fabulous coach Amelie Mettenheimer recommended to me that I do my own one-woman show I have progressed and progressed, making gradually more complex and ambitious work.
It’s been hard starting out as an actor, but it would have been even harder had I tried the conventional route - sitting by the phone and waiting for things to happen.
To support my journey to Edinburgh my lovely friend Tracey Sinclair bought me a "plane ticket" notebook. First class of course!
This will give me a chance to jot down notes on the journey.
I performed my first one woman show, based on the fantastic Dark Dates books by Tracey Sinclair, at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden in January 2015.
The director, the wonderful Peta Lily, suggested that we keep the timing short, as it was not just my first one-woman show, but my first show of any kind for nearly 20 years. Feedback was that I could make it longer and take it to Edinburgh.
I hesitated, having struggled to sell the sixty tickets for a single performance in a city where I knew a lot of people.
Tracey had moved to Brighton and suggested that I took the show there for Brighton Fringe. It was great to be performing again, even to audience sizes ranging from four to seven.
When I started out as an actor, three and a half years ago the first show that I produced was a one woman show.
My friends told me I should take it to Edinburgh. There was a cachet to performing at Edinburgh. It was a land of magic where actors were snapped up after their performances by TV producers desperate for new, unseen talent.
I could dream the dream, but I was also aware of the cold hard reality having just produced my first show. The costs involved and how they always seem to add up to just more than the revenue from tickets, even if you sell out. The challenge of selling all the seats in a 60 person theatre for one night in a town where all my friends lived, let alone a week run in a place where I knew no-one.
I performed at the slightly more accessible fringes in Camden and Brighton. I started improv classes and found that *everyone* had or was taking a show to Edinburgh. One actor had indeed been “snapped up” for a film role when she went. My Edinburgh dream slept on. Until now....