Emma Ralston (Little Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods) is currently in Steven Sondheim's UK Premiere of 'The Frogs' at the Jermyn Street Theatre. We recently caught up to talk all things Musical Theatre and here is what advice Emma has for the MT industry.

Q1. Thank you for agreeing to talk to us, firstly do you have any advice for someone in Musical Theatre College about to enter the industry?

Yes, find out as much as you can! I think knowledge is power & the more you know about the industry the better. Listen to and watch new shows, learn which casting directors cast which shows, read scripts, find songs that suit you perfectly. The more knowledge you have the more prepared you will be for a casting.

Q2. That's great advice, so how do you/did you keep training and learning once you have left college?

Well singing lessons are essential especially in musical theatre as you can get a bit comfortable with your voice and pick up bad habits. So make sure you keep your voice in good shape. Go to casting workshops and acting classes. I have been working in the industry for nearly five years and I still go to a weekly acting class (Acting Up). I think it is so important to keep learning and keep your brain working. Find a dance class that you enjoy. There are so many on offer and some can be a bit intimidating, if you are not the strongest of dancers, so find one that's fun and take your mates with you.

Q3. Great. So, looking at the differences, do you find acting through a song different than acting in a scene?

I don't think you should think of these two things separately. Essentially, you need to always remember that you are telling the audience a story. That is your main job as an actor. So whether you have a script or some lyrics and a tune, use the material you have. It's all on the page and it's your job to bring it to life for the audience.
 Q4. You are currently playing Pluto in 'The Frogs', how did you/do you get into a role?

I always try to find the truth in a character. It's so important, no matter how flamboyant and dark a part may be written, try to find a way in which you relate to the charcater and find a part of yourself in that character. The role must be believable to the audience in order for them to invest in the story. It's also so important to know how your character relates to others in the story and where they have come from and where they end up. I have spoken to some musical theatre performers recently who just learn the scenes they are in and don't worry about the rest of the show. That approach baffles me. I don't know how they could possibly give a truthful performance in that way! As I said at the start...it's all about knowledge.

I personally think Emma's advice is so important, keep learning even after college and learn as much as you can.

You can book tickets to see Emma in 'The Frogs' on at the Jermyn Street Theatre (March 14th - April 8th) here.


Thank you once again to Emma Ralston for her great advice. She will be back soon.

Joseph

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Emma Ralston: Knowledge Is Power

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


With The Academy Awards this Sunday here are eleven facts (don't ask me why I chose an odd number) you probably didn't know about The Oscars;

1. The first colour film to win best picture was 'Gone with the Wind' in 1939

2. Gloria Stuart who played 'Old Rose' in 'Titanic' was the oldest nominee in 1997 (Aged 87).

3. The youngest actress to receive an Academy Award was Tatum O'Neal at the age of 10 for 'Paper Moon' in 1974.

4. The first ceremony in 1928 lasted just 15 minutes. The longest ceremony: Whoopi Goldberg hosted in 2006 and lasted 4 and a half hours.

5. Walt Disney won 26 Academy Awards in his lifetime.

6. 'Lord Of The Rings: Return of The King', 'Titanic' and 'Ben-Hur' (1959) are the top three winning films by number of Oscar trophies (11).

7. The longest acceptation speech goes to Greer Garson in 1942 for winning Best Actress in 'Mrs Miniver'. Her speech went on for 6 minutes.

8. John Williams is the second most nominated individual at the Academy Awards with 49 nominations, (Walt Disney is of course first).

9. Katherine Hepburn has the most Oscar wins for Best Actress (4).

10. 'The Colour Purple' had the most nomiations (11) without a single win.

11. No one is truly sure why the Academy Awards is called The Oscars (honestly, Google it).

You can tune into the 89th Academy Awards from 11:30pm Sunday on Sky Cinema Oscars HD. And if you don't have Sky (like me) why not sign up to NOW TV where you will also be able to watch the ceremony and their current collection of latest films. To sign up for only £9.99 a month (no contract) click here.

See you next week.

Joseph

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The Academy Awards: 11 Facts

Thursday, 23 February 2017


Recently I have seen many posts about what should a 'resting' actor do whilst he/she is not working. The 'catch 22' comes when you need to pay your rent but you also need the time of at the drop of a hat (where the hell did this expression come from?) for an audition or job. So what do you do. The answer of course is very different from person to person but here is what I did and my top tips for earning money whilst you strive for your dream.

Front of House

When I was at college I started my Front of House journey being an Usher at The Palladium.  I then went on to usher at The Adelphi and eventually Trafalgar Studios. Now being a usher is great for the audition game, and the work is regular (most evenings), but booking that holiday off for a short filming gig will do your head in. I think FOH works great for musical theatre performers better than screen actors because contracts are generally longer for a show and you can struggle getting that show off sometimes for a few days filming. It is however a great place to network with other performers, see plays you may not be able to afford and you never know who may be sat in that audience.

Top Tip: To find FOH work the best way is to just take your CV into the Stage Door.

The O2

Now the hours are not regular, and it can be a shift into the early hours of the morning with the wind blowing through your bones, but when I worked at The O2 Arena for gig merchandise, I found the job very flexible and they understood if I couldn't do a shift for acting purposes. The team are great here, the only down side being 'get ready to work' as some shows turn over close to one million pounds in T-shirts only. The O2 is however, a great place to character study and practice your accents with the amount of people you will serve.

Top Tip: Check The O2 website for available jobs.

Teaching

Now this is the only one I still do because it never really gets in the way of anything acting wise and I do find it somewhat rewarding (on a good day). I work as a Film and TV teacher for PQA, and as well as teaching acting I get to play with cameras, editing equipment and write stories (sometimes in class we even do colouring). It is very flexible to acting as the kids love to see you working. It can be stressful at times but you do learn a lot about yourself.

Top Tip: Even if you are a actor, get playing with film equipment and you will learn so much about film production, enough at least to teach it to kids. Look out on Facebook for the latest job openings.

So that is what I have done in that past 8 years to get to where I am now. You can also do Promo, Call Centres and Bar Work but each job is not for everyone.

What do you do whilst resting? Have you got any other tips for actors looking for work?

Joseph

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The Resting Actor

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


You may of seen it in the news and or seen that Sky have a campaign about it, but single use plastic is devastating our planet and we must do something about it.

Plastic is so widely thrown away that it has killed off life in some areas of the oceans, trashed beaches across the world and is now making it's way back into our food chain.

I'm not sure about you but I really don't fancy having plastic in my food, nor do I want to see the worlds beauty destroyed by something we use for literally just minutes. So along with acting posts, I though it would a good idea to share three ways we can help to reduce our use of plastic. I know it is down to the big companies to come on board as well but we can also help and these tips are very simple to follow.

1. Bottle Your Water

Now I was once really guilty too of constantly buying bottled water, before class, before a job, before the cinema. But you know what, this is one of the leading causes in single use plastic and it is not as recycled as much as you think it would be. To get around this buy yourself a nice water bottle. I even recommend looking in Primark as they have a huge range at the moment from £2. Buy yourself a Britta filter and fill it. You can even spruce it up by adding some mint or fruit, but you are no longer using single use plastic. These bottles are cheap and so is the filter (as little as £10) so along with saving the environment you will also save yourself some money in the long run. 

2. Buy Cans

Again single use bottles are washing up on beaches across the world. They do break down in the sea over a long period of time, but not fully, so your bottle turns from a large piece of plastic into many micro pieces that are digested by fish and then placed on your dinner plate. Cans are however recycled way more than plastic, so rather than grabbing a bottle of Coke when you need a sugar hit, buy yourself a can and know that it will more than likely be turned into another can in the future. It's a simple switch but will help a lot.

3. Buy Unpacked Vegetables

Now even before the devastation of plastic was highlighted to me I was always already questioning why every single piece of fruit and veg has to be wrapped in plastic. It serves no purpose. Granted it is hard to not purchase such items, I know, I live in Waterloo and my local food shops are a Sainsbury's Local and a Tesco Express. All the veg is wrapped in them. However, if I venture up to Holborn or Borough there are little fruit and veg stands that sell unpackaged items. And guess what as well, they are cheaper. Rather than buying the plastic just give you fruit or veg a good wash before devour it. It takes a little more planning but start doing it once a week and you will soon get into the routine of it.

It's simple changes like these that can make a real difference in the future. The 5p bag charge came in to stop us using bags and now we need to continue to look at the other areas where single use plastic is used. It really is simple, so let's start protecting our oceans and beaches now before it's too late.

Take the pledge here to reduce your plastic consumption thank to Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Joseph

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The Single Life

Thursday, 16 February 2017


As some of you know I am a massive 'Friends' fan and have been pretty much all my life from when it all started back in 1994. Now, I can pretty much quote every single episode and am often caught giggling at situations that remind me of a sketch, but here are 100 things Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Monica have taught me or not taught me in some cases.

1. Your Friends really will be there for you.

2. Getting the same seat in your favourite coffee shop never happens.

3. Planes don't have phalanges.

4. A chick and a duck are not acceptable house pets.

5. If I ever need a monologue 'Love You Forever' should be ready to go.

6. Be on time to your friends birthday dinner.

7. Never say 'we were on a break' as an excuse.

8. Promotional work in Las Vegas is acceptable as an actor.

9. Never work with Robots.

10. Don't use Silly Putty if you are circumcised, it won't end well.

11. It's pronounced 'Petty' not 'Pretty'.

12. Run like you're five again.

13. 'Transponster' is not a word.

14. To cry, cut a hole in your trousers, grab tweezers and start tugging.

15. Look down, look down, look down, to get the perfect headshot.

16. It's acceptable to eat a sandwich and a pickle in the shower.

17. Condoms can't be used to repopulate the world.

18. Beginners luck is very important in Cups.

19. Never call a child 'chicken boy'.

20. I want to quit the bank.

21. I'm fine.

22. You can't make a pair of paste pants out of powder and lotion.

23. Give Brad Pitt his yams.

24. Turkey fat is not a great lubricant (but tastes great).

25. Frankie says relax.

26. If you forget a line just 'smell the fart'.

27. Broken recliner chairs can heal themselves.

28. A pashmina is a type of rug.

29. Thursday is the third day of the week.

30. The recipe for a trifle does not actually include a layer of beef.

31. Superman flew all the Jews out of Egypt.

32. How to spell Phoebe phonetically.

33. Never use a broom to knock the upstairs flat, you may die. R.I.P. Mr Heckles.

34. Close Call Day comes around once a year.

35. I now know were Yemen is.

36. Do not touch a sandwich with a moist maker that isn't yours.

37. Grandma didn't move to Peru, she died and someday we will too.

38. The code to great sex is a little 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 4, 2, 2, 4, 7, 5, 7, 6, 7, 7.

39. In 'gun fire' protect your sandwich.

40. Rubbing your head will not turn back time.

41. It's not actually possible to put a turkey on your head.

42. To stop a fire alarm beeping press the reset button.

43. The Netherlands is where Peter Pan lives.

44. Jack Cousteau is dead.

45. I'm going to have a wedding when I can go to the bathroom anytime I want too.

46. Comedy with plates is not well received.

47. Answer machine V/O work is a cool job, please pass the pie.

48. Friends are more important than money.

49. Bag Pipes don't sound good even if it is a bit of a wee celebration.

50. I want a Ms. Pac Man Machine.

51. Bombay is very very nice this time of year.

52. I love the film 'My Giant' too.

53. Pottery Barn sell things from Yore and Yesteryear.

54. I'll have some alcohol and I will also have some beers.

55. Find your lobster.

56. A Vicar is not a Goalie.

57. Don't leave moisturiser in your suitcase.

58. If you watch Die Hard twice it becomes Die Hard 2, DIE HARD.

59. Never actually use the line 'I was backpacking around Western Europe'.

60. To get a sofa upstairs, PIVOT.

61. Not everyone called Amanda are transgender.

62. Don't talk to someone who breaks your fridge.

63. Ray Bans were not the official sponsors of WW1.

64. If you want to know what a Scrud is look in the mirror.

65. A nubbin is a third nipple.

66. Ichiban lipstick for men is not cool.

67. Always actually make sure who has 'got the keys' before leaving.

68. You should actually learn some of those special skills on your CV.

69. I want to party with Gandalf on a boat.

70. Never fall asleep during a friends play.

71. L is for LOVE and what is life without love.

72. O is for 'Oh Wow'.

73. V is for this very surprising turn of events. Which I am still fine with by the way.

74. EEE is for how extremely normal I find that you two are together.

75. Only a very lucky man finds their hand twin.

76. Never be the Grumpuss

77. The cold weather also hurts my hip.

78. Mmmm Noodle soup?

79. The rules to Bamboozle are not fair, but don't stop hopping.

80. My plane seat number is 1A.

81. I also don't share food.

82. You can't have S.E.X in front of the B.A.B.Y.

83. Life really is kick you in the crutch, spit on your neck fantastic.

84. Meat sweats are a real thing.

85. Your hot room mate won't be on board with Naked Thursdays.

86. To convey evil it's 'I've got a fish hook in my eyebrow and I like it'.

87. Don't name your main character Joey...or Joseph.

88. If you don't want to catch me on my mobile, then don't call me on my mobile.

89. 'Abysmal' is not a good first review.

90. You must spit to pronunciate.

91. The guy with the boat 'Coast Guard' is not a jackass.

92. Never hit a woman, never hit a woman.

93. Code 10:100 is a pee pee.

94. I also can't speak French. Ne poo poo.

95. Toilet seat covers are the best present to give.

96. Maternity pants are really great for shoplifting melons.

97. Sex or food is a very hard conundrum. I also want 'girls on bread'.

98. Bad things do happen to good people.

99. I also want to be appreciated in my own time.

100. They add that smell to gas.

And I literally could of continued this forever.

If anyone wants to come round for a Friends marathon I am all game. Catch Friends daily on Comedy Central because why wouldn't you between jobs?

Joseph

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The One With 100 Things 'Friends' Taught Me

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


Further from my last post 'The Free Drama School' many people have asked me 'that's all great but how do I seriously fit my passion and dream into my life I have to work?'

Now, yes I know, London rent is ridiculous (I live in Waterloo), you have 4 part time jobs (I've been there), and you haven't seen you best friend since before Christmas (I'm sorry Jen). Well firstly let me say you aren't the only one so get over yourself. Now if you are really serious about acting and performing then:


Sneak off in your lunch breaks to read a script (your colleges are overrated anyway).

Write that one person play whilst up at 3am (you don't need sleep whilst dream chasing).

Get up earlier, get up earlier, GET UP EARLIER (how much do you really want it?).

Say no to those drinks every Friday night and go home to work (your friends will still like you).

Schedule your tweets for when you are at work (it's keeping you visible).

Spend your days off writing to casting directors (even do it whilst in the park if you want to get out).

Turn off that bloody episode of Big Brother (I mean really. Take a hard look at yourself).

Go to class (they are expensive but so is that cocktail you just brought without hesitation).

Buy that script you want (walk for 30 mins rather than the tube if you can't afford it).

Listen to casting podcasts on the tube (even if you need a nap it will go in).

Film yourself brushing your teeth as a different character each morning (I mean it).

Climb the escalator (the Viking roles won't come to skinny folk).

Swap your lunch break to go to that audition (you should not be turning them down).

Find a job with other creative people (they can help grow your network).

Jeremy Kyle is not your friend, GET THE HELL UP (the world is ticking by).


What I am trying to say is, if you really want this career then you will do anything in your power to make it happen so stop making excuses and saying tomorrow. Start today. Make acting your affair and work for it whenever you can. You only get one shot on this planet so don't waste it guys.

Joseph

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The Acting Affair

Thursday, 9 February 2017


So you've left drama school and your last job was back in November but you need to keep training and learning right? So what do you do? Attend class? Go to workshops? Or even sit in on that Q&A? 

As actors money can sometime be non-existent. No money for that workshop you want to attend, no money for that class you want to go to, no money for that bill that just came through. But there are things we can do to keep our acting muscles flexed and training.  

FILM YOURSELF (Not in a 'Zack and Miri Make A Porno' way)

Every phone has had a camera on it for years now, and you know what, they are pretty decent in the scheme of things. So why not grab that monologue you like from that film you saw and act it out to camera. Watch it back, see what you like and don't like. Show it to a friend for feedback and record it again. It is honestly amazing how much you will learn from watching yourself back. Generally in drama school you don't get to and once you are on a job you probably won't either. So do it now and learn to tone down that over active eyebrow.

READ

It seems simple, but even I need reminding every now and then to just read. Read books, read news articles, read alternative facts and read magazines. You never stop learning from other people's writing so since English back in school why have you stopped reading? Also try not to keep it all in your head. Read that story about the woman castrated her husband for cheating out loud. Get your sight reading up to scratch and you will high five yourself when you nail that cold read in front of Nina Gold.

ACT LIKE A TWAT

My favourite one to do. We were once children with an imagination and I definitely would find hours of pleasure with a cardboard box acting as if I was about to land on the moon. But somewhere between taking the bins out and that final notice on the doormat we lose our spark. I am telling you now there is nothing more fun than improvising a one man scene (or various characters if you do the voices) in your room. Pretend you are somewhere else and talk from that characters point of view as you stir stock into that mushroom risotto for what feel like eternity. Order your coffee from Starbucks with a new accent each day or get into a conversation with someone you don't know pretending to be a member of a cult (I am of course not condoning fraud here). Just have fun and explore the characters you have within you. Just don't get caught out or it makes for an embarrassing, earth swallowing moment. 

The world is your free drama school so keep attending.

Practicing acting everyday will make you a better actor and will also relax you when the castings and the jobs flow in. Even if you have a hectic schedule each day trying to earn that London rent money, take as little as a minute to read something new or act out a quick improvisation. Be that weirdo on the underground.

Have you got any tips for keeping training for free?

Joseph

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The Free Drama School

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


So this honest post comes from me sitting in the BFI with a cappuccino, jazz music playing, people on laptops and myself trying my hardest not to ditch the coffee and buy a beer (it's just before 11am on a Tuesday).

A few years ago I read a great and hilarious book 'Hellraisers' by Robert Sellers. The book is all about the drinking habits of Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton and Oliver Reed. Now the stories are hilarious and I recommend the read but the truth behind the book however, is not so funny.

As a creative person I find my mind ticks at a hundred miles per hour every hour of every day. Ideas flow through me constantly, I am fascinated by the world and it's characters and I am completely dream and goal driven. However, to get anything done I have to slow my brain down to a pace my body van catch up with and the only way I know to do this is to have a drink.

I decided to speak out about this as it is very easy to fall into a downward spiral with alcohol. We all know the stories of actors going to rehab and I have many friends that have relied on the drink just to get through a day. And yes let's be honest I have done this too.

As actors I think we suffer from a lot of pressure, from money troubles, to getting the next high (career wise of course), to keeping sane whilst the phone isn't ringing. And it is easy to suppress these feelings of depression with alcohol.

I don't know about you but some networking events scare the hell out of me and I like to have a few beers in the system to simply get through them.

I don't know about you but some nights I can't sleep due to creative ideas running round my head so I have a drink to get off to the land of nod.

I don't know about you but sometimes an audition can come easier to me if I have stopped off for one at the nearest pub before hand.

I don't know about you but some days I feel like giving up and drink can be the only thing giving me life that day.

We all need to be aware how much we drink, not just for physical benefits but for mental ones too. I feel I am aware of when things are getting out of hand and I have the strength and network around me to help, but not everyone does. This is why I am speaking up about it, as having a drink is not something to be ashamed of and is also one of life's little pleasures, but just be aware of when the acting industry and alcohol come hand in hand.

'I did quite enjoy the days when one went for a beer at one's local in Paris and woke up in Corsica'
PETER O'TOOLE

Keep an eye out on your friends people and see you next week. Oh, and if you are buying I'll have a pint please.

Joseph

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The Actor and His Drink

Thursday, 2 February 2017

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