8 Presents An Actor Does Not Want For Their Birthday
by Esther Bishop, posted 29 June 2015
Acting Literature – Acting is something you are born with, you can't just learn it, otherwise there would be loads of us out there. Reading an acting handbook or someone else’s biography is about as interesting to me as trying to put saucepans in a cupboard where there are already too many saucepans. I was given a book called 'Respect for Acting' (by Uta Hagen) in my first year of being an amazing actor, I still use it to prop up my laptop during Skype calls so I guess they can be useful. An actors' bookshelf must only home such titles as The Power of Now, The Gift, The Four Agreements, the first draft of your own biography, The Secret and Winnie the Pooh.
Smellies - I dislike this word. On my last (playing age) birthday, I promised myself I would try to read more so now I’m doing it in the shower and I am unpleasantly surprised by the amount of chemicals in my toiletries; like forest fruit shampoos that are definitely not from the forest. Just because actors always look good doesn't mean we are always pampering ourselves and are vain. So I'm going natural, cosmetic free! well, at least in between castings and acting jobs and maybe going to the shop, in the evenings. Also, the fake tans and firming creams, mixed with my body heat, are producing a cocktail of oils and chemicals on my skin, my bed smells like sugar puffs.
A Card With My Age On It - The only people who like this are people who are learning to count, and they don't count.
An Experience - A friend once gave me the experience of a flotation tank for my birthday. Off I went to a spa in London Bridge ready to let my troubles drift from my mind, and, more importantly, lie down for a while. The 'experience' was traumatising. I lay in a pool of lukewarm water in a tiny plastic box in the dark, as fear filled my heart and a single tear ran down my cheek. My friend had succeeded in buying me loneliness for my birthday. If you are going to give me an experience as a gift please try it out yourself first.
Theatre Tickets - Theatre is poor mans TV. There is nothing more boring than having to watch other actors act. At least with TV you can change the channel. Besides, everyone knows that real acting can only be done on TV, not on some stage somewhere. Get me box sets, subscriptions to Netflix or a Blu Ray, not a headache journey on the Piccadilly Line just so I can watch other actors humiliate themselves and have to talk to them afterwards. Theatre is annoying and makes me want to go home take my bra off and eat biscuits.
Audrey Hepburn – As long as there is paper there will be words...and money...and Audrey Hepburn apparently. I wish the stationary giants would just leave her alone. I can see why some people compare my work to hers, that part makes sense, but I do not want another birthday card, notepad, keyring, or purse with her face on it. If she were here today she would glide into Clintons Cards in a ball gown, slap the retail assistant hard across the face before taking a bow and disappearing into a cloud of wonder.
Vouchers - Thanks but unless its over £25 quid don't bother giving me a 'gift' voucher - previous birthdays have ensured I have more than my fair share of novelty socks from Accessorize and hairbands that make my head hurt, and the Monsoon slippers never fit right. Also, I should never have to be exposed to the public humiliation of using a voucher in public at this level of my career. What next? Food stamps?
No Present - Or a non-present comes in different forms – one of which is a social media meme captioning a hilarious moment that never existed, this is simply not a present. Also re-gifting falls under the title of no present. With the exception of a bottle of nice wine or champagne, re-gifting is not acceptable. Everyone knows a travelling gift when they see one.
For the future, think practical but personable – for example a chair makes a great gift for an actor, there is no end to the progress an actor can make whilst sitting down, carrying on with tasks like watching telly, reading scripts, pontificating, all key components for success. If the chair swivels, even better.
OR a time machine.
Failing that, give them money.
(Also, I share my birthday today with another great artist, Nicole Scherzinger, Happy Birthday Nicole.)