Saturday, November 18, 2017

Platform Paper No 53

The Jobbing Actor: Rules of engagement by Lex Marinos.  Platform Paper No 53, Currency House, November 2017.

Commentary by Frank McKone

“I comforted myself with the knowledge that I certainly wasn’t the first actor to be pelted with rotten tomatoes, just the most recent.  I was just a link in the chain that stretched back to the dawn of civilisation....Indeed, acting is arguably the world’s second oldest profession.”

With a light touch, Lex Marinos achieves his aim “to write about the vast majority of actors” – not “the ones that audiences pay to see” – “the ones that struggle to stay employed.  The ones for whom acting is, variously, a hobby, a job, a career, a vocation.”

Among many Platform Papers presenting arguments, Marinos tells a story in which he seems to be, like Tom in The Glass Menagerie, standing a little in the wings, almost in a shadow off-stage, explaining to us what happened to him and how his experiences took him down many unexpected paths, not always to success, sometimes dangerously slippery.  Luckily for him, but not so for many others, his careering has continued for many decades. 

“It’s what I do, and have done for half a century.  I’ve been blessed.  It’s enabled me to help raise a family, live in relative comfort, see exotic places, meet amazing people, work with wonderful artists, find friends and lovers.  It’s the life I’d hoped for, and it’s been my way of trying to understand the world.”

To read the paper is to stand alongside, doing and seeing all these things.  What made for me the greatest impact was that despite his fame and popularity from his beginning in TV comedy to his striking role as Manolis in The Slap, he stayed true to his choice of his image of himself, saying “T.S. Eliot nailed it in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock:

No!  I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous –
Almost, at times, the Fool.

There is humour in his humility, sincerity in his common sense, fascination in his history, and practicality in his advice.  I can do no more than highly recommend to you this jobbing actor who wants “my feet to be on the ground while my head is in the clouds” and his favourite quote from Katherine Hepburn who, he claims, once said:

Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living.  After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.

Go at once to 

Lex Marinos