Saturday, 13 September 2014

Drama Queens and Castings


Recently my daughter attended an audition for an anti-bullying advert.  The pre-requisite was to look no older than a fifteen-year-old girl, and to look as plain as possible.
          ‘What?’ shrieked Eleanor.  ‘No make-up at all?  Not even a little bit?’
          Her angst was visible.  This was a teenager who carefully applied cosmetics to her skin like an artist using a palette of rainbow paints.  There is no beauty blog my daughter has not studied, and no cosmetic department store in our local shopping mall that Eleanor has not scrutinised.  When we recently visited Canada, the only bit of sight-seeing my daughter was passionate about was the inside of a MAC shop.  And for the uninitiated MAC is nothing to do with an Apple laptop and everything to do with eyes, lips, face, nails, skincare and ‘tools’.  Oh yes, didn’t you know there are umpteen different implements on the market to apply one’s make-up?  Gone are the days where you simply use a trowel, like me.  Anyway, I digress.
          ‘Do you want this casting or not?’ I asked irritably.
          ‘Oh yesss,’ Eleanor sighed and put her hands together in apparent prayer, ‘I want this casting more than anything.’
          ‘Then do as your agent advised.  The director doesn’t want the aggravation of licencing fees with genuine fifteen-year-olds, and why you’ve been chosen to audition.  You might be seventeen, but you don’t look it.  Just think, there is an upside to the continuous cycle of you being turfed out of Fifteen Certificate films at the cinema.’
          ‘Well I’m definitely wearing spot cover up,’ said my daughter defiantly.
          We left for London with my daughter wearing some ‘barely there’ concealer and the palest of pink lip glosses.  On arrival at the American Church on the Tottenham Court Road, we were shown to a waiting area.  There were a number of teens waiting, including a six-foot-tall willowy blonde.  We smiled and gave her the once over.  She glared back at us and did the same.  She looked about nineteen but had tied her hair into a ponytail to knock some years off.  She stomped off to do her audition looking as if she was chewing on a wasp.
          ‘The only thing that one has in common with a fifteen-year-old,’ said the assistant to us, ‘is bad attitude.’  She smiled kindly at Eleanor.  ‘You’re next.  Come with me.’
          Eleanor went off on rubber legs looking incredibly anxious.  Ten minutes later she was back, a big grin on her face.
          ‘How did it go?’ I asked, getting up and greeting her.
          ‘Okay, I think.’
          ‘Were you nervous?’  I asked, leading the way out of the building and back into late summer sunshine.
          ‘More than words can say.’
          ‘What did you have to do?’
          As we headed back to the car, Eleanor took me through the audition.
          ‘I was given a mobile phone and instructed to look like I was picking up a series of text messages, which I then had to read to camera.  There was no script.  It was all improvisation.  Having once been bullied myself at school, I found myself re-enacting a long-ago thread from a tormentor on Facebook.  It was quite surreal, and I found myself getting right into it.  I even filled up and did some rather embarrassing lip tremble.’
          ‘Sounds like you did a great job,’ I said.  As we got into the car, I slung an arm around her and gave her a hug.
          Forty-eight hours later the call came through to say the audition had been a success.  Now whether this good news went to my daughter’s head I just don’t know.  Let’s just say some very diva-like behaviour followed a few days later, so much so that my husband took her mobile phone away as a punishment.
          ‘Oh dear Lord,’ I muttered, crossing myself fervently, ‘not the mobile phone.’
          ‘You’ve cut me off from THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MY LIFE,’ Eleanor roared, ‘GIVE THAT BACK TO ME!’
          ‘When you apologise,’ said Mr V.
          It never fails to amaze me that such a small gadget has such power in teaching a stroppy teenager some manners.
          ‘I’m seventeen!  This is outrageous!  You can’t treat me like this!  In fact, if you don’t give it back to me,’ Eleanor warned, ‘I’ll–
          ‘Yes?’ my husband demanded.
          And with that Eleanor opened her mouth and screamed.  And screamed, and screamed.  I was reminded of an older version of Violet Elizabeth Bott who lived next door to William, hero of the books by Richmal Crompton and made into several televised series.  I clung on to the mobile phone for dear life as Eleanor’s reverberating tonsils threatened to shatter the mirror, several windows, and sent the cat and dog running for cover.  We were subjected to an amazing floor show.  From, ‘Somebody help me,’ accompanied by blood-curdling I’m being murdered screams, to heart-wrenching sobs of ‘Nobody understands me.’  I’ll say this, she’s an amazing actress, and I’ll eat my hat if she’s not on the red carpet one day.  As for the confiscated phone, it was returned twenty-four hours later when my daughter finally managed to squeeze out three little words between clenched teeth.
          ‘I am sorry.’
          Since then peace has reigned.  For how long is anybody’s guess.  Which reminds me.  What is a teenager?  Somebody who can never remember to walk the dog, but never forgets a phone number…

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