Confessions of a Middle Aged Drama School Grad
Shouting into the void…
In late May 2017, a couple of months shy of my 47th birthday, and under the heady influence of what I now recognise to be a premenopausal hormone spike, I applied to go to drama school. Hardly a hasty decision – I first dared to dream about it 30 years earlier but the 18 year old me, plagued by self doubt, managed to sabotage this idea and kick it into the long grass. This time round, I reassured myself that it was just a practice run for applying in earnest the following year, so it was a huge shock when, the day after auditioning, I was offered a place on the MA Acting course at Mountview.
It was a crazy year, a rollercoaster of exhilarating highs mixed up with exhaustion induced lows, but over all one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m so grateful for having had the opportunity. Above all, I hope I’ve set a good example for my children to follow their dreams – although I hope they don’t procrastinate quite as much as me!
Ten months post graduation and I’m still very much finding my feet. I’ve learnt to manage my own expectations for my career and acknowledge that supply massively outweighs demand for female actors of my age. The cult of youth is powerful and prevalent; we are all susceptible to the lure of the fresh and new and this societal trend is reflected in the stories which get told on stage and screen. I sit at the intersection of sexism and ageism and on a bad day this sends me into paroxysms of self doubt and excessive chocolate consumption; on a good day I see it as a personal challenge to enlighten the world on just how fucking fascinating women in their late 40s actually are!
At the moment I’m gearing up to put on a second run of my short play ‘Becoming The Invisible Woman’ at The Drayton Arms in June; a piece I initially developed as part of my MA at Mountview. They say write about what you know, and this show explores my experiences of motherhood, ageing and the pursuit of unfulfilled dreams. It also features a whole lot of laundry and a killer, nostalgia inducing soundtrack!
I’m very much learning on the job about producing and marketing my own show – I find the self promotion bit fairly excruciating and at times it feels like I’m shouting into the void. Last week I sent out over 150 industry invites and the few responses I’ve received so far have been to politely decline – the irony of this given my show’s title is not lost on me! On the plus side, ticket sales have so far been, and I have to remind myself that my measure of success has always been to create and perform work which resonates. After the first run of my show I was overwhelmed by the audience response; so many women told me how much my play reflected their own experiences and made them realise how rarely this particular time in a woman’s life is placed at centre stage. I guess for most actors it’s this which keeps us going back for more – keeps us battling on in the face of multiple rejection – we know that those magical moments of connection and communitas are worth chasing.
You can find out more about Sarah’s show ‘Becoming The Invisible Woman’ by visiting her Facebook page.