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Acting on impulse - confessions of a born again Theso

By Rose Cooper - posted Tuesday, 13 October 2009


As I answered the phone and heard the unmistakeable dulcet tones of my agent, I felt that familiar pang of excitement in the pit of my stomach.

“Rose … can you come down to Sydney for an audition tomorrow?”

An audition - yay! My heart soared and my mind raced. I silently uttered my usual, stock-standard prayer - "Please, let this one be for “Love My Way”.

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“It’s a commercial,” she continued, “for a, um … for a feminine hygiene product”. The pang turned into more of a ping. I heard her rifling through the papers on her desk … “Um, let’s see … the product is called, ‘Depends’. How’s 11 o’clock?”

The ping turned into a pong. Ewww! Incontinence pads. Incontinence pads? Here’s me thinking that the headshots my agent placed on the actors’ database screamed “intelligence, wit, sophistication, combined with an undeniably potent sexuality”.

Apparently they also screamed: “this woman cannot hold her water!”

Sure, I’ve had three kids - but come on, I’m only 47. Helen Mirren is 60+. I can’t imagine her lovely face feigning an embarrassing “oops moment” on our TV screens any time soon. Not Hot Helen. As it turned out, I couldn’t make the audition anyway. I took this as a sign from the Gods that I wasn’t meant to be the next Wet Pants Poster Girl. My big break was still around the corner. The next call from my agent (or the one after) would be something far more suited to my unmistakeable star quality. Maybe a tampon commercial or something - at least that style of hygiene product still alludes to youth. Mind you I’d probably have to brush up on my surfing, mountain climbing and whatever else women do while menstruating these days (the ads always make those cramps seem such fun).

It’s at these times I reflect on the sanity of my very recent decision to take up acting. Acting’s a masochistic pastime at any age. One is routinely assessed as a certain “physical type” before a single line is even uttered in an audition. If, like me, you’re struggling to come to grips with the whole onset-of-middle-age deal, this editorialising of one’s superficial demographic appeal is akin to torture. In that one phone-call my, “I look really good for my age” denial was smashed all over the pavement like a television heaved drunkenly out of a tenth storey window. Another audition I was sent on was for a margarine that lowered cholesterol. Apparently the sultry, steadfast gaze of my profile photos also says “angina, anyone?”

But that’s just the commercial side of acting. That part is always going to be a bit of a compromise, seeing as I’m not Cate Blanchette. Be that as it may, I know I was meant to act, regardless of how late I’ve left it. I know it deep down in my (probably brittle) bones!

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It’s pretty lame that it took me so long realise it (confidence has always been an elusive friend) but for as long as I remember, I’ve always been a performer. My late mother used to regale my friends with one particular childhood anecdote. One day she had a bunch of friends over for lunch - and in the middle of it all, out toddled a two-year-old Rosie, proudly proffering a potty in my outstretched hand - which contained a fresh, steaming Number Two. At this point in the story my mother always nearly choked on her dentures, as she laughingly recounted how she then turned to her horrified friends and said, “Don’t just sit there - clap!”

You would have thought that she’d have seen the writing on the wall back then and signed me up to the best talent school in the country. But alas, they took what was obviously a prodigious talent for granted. Clearly, they didn’t know shit back then.

And so it followed that even when I did perform for the family (in a far more salubrious and conventionally entertaining fashion) the significance of whatever talent I may have possessed, went right over their heads. As the youngest of six, it was my job to be The Cute One, and even though I was often encouraged to perform my party tricks for my parent’s friends - they somehow failed to see what was in front of their eyes.

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The inaugural V-Day Wyong 2007s two performances of The Vagina Monologues raised $12,000 for local womens shelters and legal aid. This was backed up with four performances for V-Day Gosford and Wyong 2008 and raising another $40,000. For more information on how your theatre group or college can become involved in this great cause, visit: www.vday.org.



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About the Author

Rose Cooper is a freelance writer and actor who has contributed to many national publications over the past 20 years. She was Australian Women's Forum Magazine's most prolific contributor as well as their Sex Advice Columnist. Her areas of expertise include comedy, women's health and sexuality issues, relationships, theatre and pop culture. For more of Rose's articles visit: www.insiderose.com

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