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Bright Club: Acting - Recording and Transciption - A Most Illuminating Tale
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Robert Wells or Mr Waters
Date: 6.55 pm, Monday 29th October, 2012
Subject: Bright Club: Acting - Recording and Transciption
Security: Public
So here's my recording from Bright Club: Acting.

If that doesn't work, or you want to download it, it's on soundcloud. Also, here's the event page and some other notes on the experience.

And here's the transcript (with notes):
(I've redacted all real names here, just so that they don't come up when googling, but the real names are used in the recordings)
Bright Club: Acting
Wilmington Arms, Rosebery Ave, Clerkenwell, EC1R 4RL
October 16th 2012

Hello. My name is Robert Waters and I am an actor.

I'm here tonight to tell you the secret of my sanity, such as it is. Are you ready to have your minds blown?
Business Cards.
Bear with me here. Business cards are the secret to a long and happy working life.

November fifth, two thousand and three. I'm at a bonfire night party and I meet a man who introduces himself as "James Didcot here's my card". And I take the proffered card and I read:
James Didcot
Inventor and Managing Director
Drinkable Cheese

And he whips the card back out of my hand before I can read it saying "Oh it's my last card and I need to get more reprinted and excuse excuse excuse".
[This story happened, as written, but to H not me, and at the party in 2009 on the 13th November. I've invented a name, as nobody could remember his name the morning after, and nobody knew how he had got to the party and who he was friends with.]

And this changes my life. Consider if you will the following statement:
You are who it says you are on your business card.

September, two thousand and three, I left drama school. In the nine years since then I have done some acting. I have been in Shakespeare. [Paris in Romeo and Juliet for Chapterhouse] I got to play Darwin in Cambridge for the big anniversary in two thousand and nine. [This View of Life by Matt Wilkinson at the ADC] I was in a short film called Sign Language. [2010, directed by Oscar Sharp] I was on screen in that for five seconds but it has given me a Bacon number of three. [True] But earnings? I worked it out. I have spent more money on Curly Wurlys than I have earned as an actor. And I don't like Curly Wurlys. [Lie. On both counts. Sorry.]
So in order to keep myself sane, when someone asks "What do you do?" and I say "I'm an actor", I printed some business cards.
I know I'm an actor. It says so on my business card.


I'm also a tech, I'm a theatrical tech, I also do museums. [I have the job title at the moment of Events Technician, Design Museum] I'm the tech that people who don't know techs call when something goes up the swanee.
A couple of weeks ago, I get a call from L--- F----- she says, come and tech my one woman show. It's an easy one. It's just me. A couple of lighting cues, a couple of sound cues. Two video projectors. An animated bear. Two suitcases of props. Two of costumes. Practical food. And a mirrorball. Oh, and did I say it's in Berlin? Tomorrow? So I drop what I'm doing and we drive from her place to Luton airport. We get an Easyjet from Luton airport to Berlin. We get a taxi from Berlin to the theatre. We're in an arts festival. Turns out our venue is a box room. There are four lights. I notice there's a desk lamp so I use that as a fifth. I've got the German tech asking me in German what she's meant to be doing. At this point I haven't seen the show. It happens. It's a bit hairy. We get through it. We pack people in. It's fine. End of the show. We pack the stuff up. We go: taxi to the airport, plane back to Luton, Luton back to Hackney.
Fifteen hundred mile round trip for one performance of Oh, My Green Soapbox, a one hour art piece about climate change and saving polar bears.
Best part? She calls me back the next day. We won the public vote and we have to go back and do it all again.
[True, but not wholly true. I did light ...Soapbox in Berlin for one show and the show and venue were as described. We did go back and perform it again some weeks later. It was part of the 100˚ Festival 2008. However, I had lit it before and I was given plenty of notice. I did also light another show in Berlin in the same festival that I hadn't seen before. It was called Anger.]
I know I'm a tech. It says so on my business card.

Theatrical Technician

I also write music. This summer I wrote some music for the V&A for their big British Design exhibition. If anyone saw it, my music was playing in the room where the lemmings leapt endlessly to their deaths. Three quarters of a million people saw that exhibition. One person emailed me afterwards. And he emailed me to tell me that I had ripped off the McDonald’s jingle.
[Actually, two people emailed me. One told me I'd ripped off the E.T. theme and the other was interested in giving me a record deal]
But I know I'm a composer. I know I am, because it says so on my business card.


I'm also an artist. Last summer I got drunk with a famous comedian. For the sake of argument let's call him T-- M------. And he agreed to buy from me a six foot by four foot canvas that I had painted in the primitive graffiti school. To be fair to the man, when he sobered up he still bought it. And he hung it up. In his studio. [All true] For a bit, then he took it down and he hung it up. In his garage. For a bit, then he took it down, and. [Lie]
Still, I know I'm an artist, because it says so on my business card.


The thing I don't put on my business card is my day job. I am a Library Officer in a North London drama school, which for legal reasons I won't tell you is the M-------- Academy of Theatre Arts, Wood Green, North twenty two six X-ray foxtrot.

I got the job when the old founder died, and he left all his books to the library and they needed an able body to go and sort them out. So I spent a couple of weeks in a musty room looking through a dead man's books. Now I looked up his obituary and P---- C------, he never married. Of the three and a half thousand books that I catalogued, one thousand of them were high quality, Taschen grade, coffee table porn. Big hardback books of photographs of beautiful men, artfully lit, and very nude. We've all got one of those books. We've all got one of those books that we bought because it was art. That we bought because it was a treatise on how modern photography can make the human form transcend the mere erotic. But you know it’s porn. I've got one. You've got one. He had a thousand. He had so many that the fort I built out of them had turrets.
[There were two of us sorting the books and we built mazes, not forts. There was also a sculpture in the shape of a fleur-de-wangs.]
Ladies and Gentlemen, if you take nothing else from my set, take this: death can come at any time. Get your affairs in order and organise a porn buddy. And if you're anything like P---- C------, get a porn buddy who's got a van.

So after that I think they gave me the job to keep me quiet. I spend my days mostly resenting the youth, which seems to be the fate of anyone in academia. It's not that they're stupid. It's just that they are entirely incapable of putting books back in the right place. How hard can it be? Mamet comes before Marber. Company comes before Copacabana. Mike Bartlett's Cock comes before Samuel Beckett's Krapp.

[I cut from here a section about what I think of the state of drama schools today and MV in particular, but it turned out to just be bile]

You do get the odd gem though.
There was a guy called A--- W----. He left last year. And the first time I saw him he was running full pelt down a corridor, stark bollock naked. And when he left I went “Do you remember that? It was the first day I saw you. You ran down that corridor stark bollock naked.” and he went “Oh god, I'd forgotten. It was my first day here. I was terrified. I was in this room with loads of new people and I didn't know what to do and it suddenly occurred to me that what I should do is run down that corridor stark bollock naked. So I did.”
[This was a conversation between him and a classmate who I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the name of. I'm kicking myself for not saying "I love that story, and it never gets a laugh" which it didn't. Ever.]
His housemate Steve said “He's amazing to share a stage with, he's the most brilliant actor, but I do fear that I'm going to come home one day and find that he's pooped on the stairs. Again.” [Fictional name for same classmate, who feared poop in the garden, not stairs]
But he is the most exciting actor I have ever seen. He commits himself fully whether it's Shakespeare or Sondheim or panto. And I would pay money to watch that man read the phone book.

So what I do now is I spend my days sitting at my desk waiting for the next one of those, the next slice of insane brilliance. Because anything less than that, it's just not worth it. I am a seeker of genius.
I know I am. It says so on my business card.
I've been Robert Waters, thank-you very much.

Seeker of Genius
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 12.20 pm, Tuesday 30th October, 2012 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ooh that's a marvellous read, very funny :-D Can't wait to listen to it at home later, and do let me know if you're doing it - or anything like it - again!



PS In case it wasn't intentional, the second mention of P---- C----- is unredacted.

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Robert Wells or Mr Waters: Whoops
User: weaselspoon
Date: 10.59 am, Wednesday 31st October, 2012 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks for that. Fixed now.

Hope you like the recording. It's unlikely I'll ever do that again, but it's nice to know I could if I needed to.

Check back later and there'll be pictures of the cards...

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