Who Said Blondes Have More Fun!

October 26, 2014 — 36 Comments

CMcG

I first met Charlotte McGuinness in my first year at the RCS during a cross discipline collaboration and she ended up strung up like a puppet 🙂  Whoever said that blondes have more fun was obviously hanging out with the wrong brunette.

I was so pleased CharlotteM agreed to let me quiz her about her course and hopes for the future:

Charlotte, as you’re in your final year of your three year BA Acting degree  at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), it must all be getting a bit real for you now, so when you finish your degree have you decided what your next step will be? What would you like to do next?

I really want to do acting with writing as an add-on, it is obviously hard as an actor to have that that as their only job and wait around waiting for a phone call every day.  So you have to have a secondary job, in London before I started my course, I did a foundation course and I did all the phone jobs and retail jobs to supplement that, so I want to get into writing as that is still creative and I hope to make my own work with our company ‘Ink Dolls’.  The world is so big with social media and social networking and everything you’ve got to be ready to take on every aspect.  I was really inspired by the women who wrote Upstairs, Downstairs they wrote it and put themselves in it.  The same with James Corden and Ruth Jones the creators of Gavin and Stacey to stop getting themselves typecast they wrote for characters to give themselves acting challenges outside their usual casting, they wrote it, developed it then put themselves in it as the actors.  It’s just another way into acting.

Sometimes you do have to create your own opportunities, it’s the same for singers, so how do you know where to start in your speciality?

I think if you want to get into it, you just have to be brave and leap, we started this summer at the Edinburgh Fringe, we were looking at how to develop new stuff we were writing.  I did a mini internship recently at the Channel 4 Glasgow office producing in their creative diversity unit, making sure their creative programming is varied.  I read lots of projects that have been put forward and it is interesting to see there are funds to create new and exciting projects.  For example have you heard of Scrotal Recall, the program was written and developed using funds from C4?  It is now a successful big programme.

What are you doing at the moment at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?

I love comedy, I love to do that, at the moment we are rehearsing for ‘The Country Wife’ my role is Lady Fidget, she’s a Tory MP’s wife, very coiffured the original version of the play was written before even Shakespeare wrote his plays so when you first hear it you think this is odd.  It was banned at the time because it was too outrageous, the lead man is Master Horner who is very horney, which is not very subtle, the modern equivalent is the Russell Brand sort of character, the story is from France and he, Master Horner, claims he’s an eunuch .  It’s a lot about public face and private face and my character reflects rich people’s perceived obsession with how they look, honour, dating the right man, upper class, then you see what she is really like underneath.

So you are keeping it quite farcical or realistic?

It is quite farcical which is hard with a modern interpretation.  You start thinking its high style and ridiculous, possibly Oscar Wilde style and then you get into it and there’s no truth in that at all.  You’ve still got to develop the acting, get into character.

Is it true that some actors develop the character from the shoes they’re given?

It’s funny you should say that we had so many challenges with shoes in the last week, we have these costume parades, when you come in front of the Director and they see all this stuff and ideas get developed, so you parade yourself out in this catwalk thing and about eight people are just staring at you and ideas get thrown around, people are readjusting your sleeves and adding or taking away from your costume.  Robert Carson our Director is quite fabulous anyway and he was into detail, for example, he wanted my character in a bigger heel because my costume was quite conservative and he still wanted my character to be sexy and believable.  I was like oh heck because I’m running around all over the stage in 4.5” suede pink shoes (Charlotte M’s smiling back at me now “I knew you’d like that” – “Oh wow I do!”).  So now I have to glide in and be very dignified and it forces me to take smaller steps, very birdlike, so I guess it’s all helping characterisation.  You can’t just move without reason you have to think about heel toe, heel toe.

In singing we don’t get our costume till late and we’re told it’s all about the voice, all about the voice.  But I think costume is so important, when I went to see Cinderella at the Opera last week I was quite disappointed with some of the costumes.

Your degree is in Drama, if I was 17 and asking you about what to expect what would you say?

The majority of our work in the first and second year is skills classes, movement which is different to dance; animal studies; colours; personalities and exploring all aspects of those.  Voice lessons how to reach the deep parts of your voice and how to have more gravitas, Shakespeare pronunciation.  We have classes in singing, choral and personal and participate in dance sessions.

That sounds jam packed!

We also do acrobatics, Cirque du Soleil, I was asked to do things I’ve never ever done before, but we started with stuff you’d do when you are about 11 like cartwheels, balancing.  I did parkour instead of acrobatics second year, getting grounded.  Workshops including improvisation which is great, you have to fail and get it wrong and explore, it’s the only way to learn to fail and fail again and work on getting things right.  Then we do a big project, ours was ‘Russians’, you start with ‘The Seagull’ laid back understated it’s all about what’s not said.  Then in the second year we carry on with skills classes and a Shakespeare outreach where you teach secondary school students with workshops and games on how say Macbeth develops.  Everybody has energy boards and we develop that on the stage and get into a scrum, we did this project with ‘King Lear’.  We did a big show ‘Coriolanus’, a Shakespeare tragedy about a Roman leader, we took it on tour to Russia.  You have to go for it but it’s crazy and you can’t be afraid to explore Shakespeare large.  Then we build into our high style and Oscar Wilde style which is bigger and we have a Panto which is even bigger, we have the archetypes, the lovers and all of that and a full exploration.  Finally we go back into Film in February, so we go from the glitz and glam of Panto to solid acting pared right back.

Gosh the course can’t be accused of being stale and sticking with say Stanislavski!

It’s important to be versatile.

Do you see yourself as being an advocate for Shakespeare and Drama in say the school curriculum?

Absolutely!  I went to a High School that was put in special measures who gave no encouragement to go on to higher education and they have now converted into an Academy, we did Drama but then only at 13 and 14 it wasn’t part of the English curriculum.  Aside from the fact that for people with reading issues like dyslexia drama and play acting so helps to relate to problem issues in a different way and helps with understanding text. For a lot of people they would otherwise not come into contact with plays and drama productions if it wasn’t covered at school.

I read about you getting into photography in this article  , how did you get into that was it something your Mum was in to?

My Mum went to a similar school to me and they were encouraged to go into offices or shops, people got married and didn’t really consider an arts career.  So my Mum wasn’t part of that world, she was very artistic but she went off to be a secretary and secretarial college, so eventually she retrained as a teacher and now she’s into politics.  But I love art and I sketch and draw, and photography is just an extension of that and it’s something we could develop together and she encouraged me.  I did fine art and photography and carried it through to ‘A’ level.  I did a lot of dark room stuff.  I love fantastic images I researched Annie Liebovitz photography a lot and a guy called Tim Walker, Gregory Crewdson very colourful images, but I like black and white too.  My friend Rob and I used to photograph each other for projects, he’s in Les Mis. at the moment on the West End.  I’m glad I did develop it because I can use those skills to create headshots and posters and I know how to use Photoshop so we can cover lots of our own marketing.  We were clear about what we wanted our logo to look like we used a designer in Greece.  We helped create the poster for ‘Flat Pack’ our play we created for the Edinburgh Fringe.  Em J my partner in Ink Dolls came from a background in the arts as well and it helps with staging, costumes and just how we want things to look, I’m getting quite involved with typography at the moment.

InkDollsLogo

What do you feel is the most important characteristics for an Actor?

Be aware of what makes up your soul, be aware of your character, be aware of your unique characteristics; be sure you represent your quality – whether it be sly, charming, crazy, or romantic.  People can audition for three to five years just to get into schools like the RCS if it’s something you’re serious about you can’t just have a quitting nature.  Maturity, confidence, experience, love, loss, having a presence , foundation courses, rep years, get experience on the Fringe, mini courses, NYT just getting experience and what the demands are and being around other actors, its relentless.  A good memory is helpful you have to remember monologues with just one day’s preparation.  Go do all the crap jobs to build your character and meet some great characters, see the world around you, and don’t just stay in the rarefied environment of the classroom.  Audition tutors are a good idea too, it does cost quite a lot but so is the cost of auditioning and re-auditioning, they will tell you to concentrate on your strengths and give your critical feedback.  The top Universities like Oxbridge are sometimes easier to get into than the best Drama schools and they have organisations who offer Oxbridge application training to get into those organisations, it’s something you shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to do I wish I’d have known about it.  It is all about you and they help to teach you how to make yourself shine and hope that someone needs the character that you are.

I think a thing to remember is that no Actor, not even someone I admire like Leonardo DiCaprio started out perfect, they will have a back catalogue of less than perfect performances that have helped to hone their skill over the years, until today when he isn’t type cast and can trusted to truly represent a variety of roles, it is unrealistic of 21 year olds to expect to be perfect from the off.

Were there any days you thought you couldn’t do it?

There have absolutely been times where the pressure and the multi-tasking for example when we lived with everyone who did ‘The Flat Pack’  project with us, we didn’t have our internet set up, we’d just given everyone the script, sometimes the hours are so long, so little time for sleep and the house was so mental you forget to eat and we were so busy that it seemed the project might not get done, had we taken on too much? I can’t believe I thought it was a good idea to write, direct, produce, one of us act in it, market it, raise the funds, there are days where you are so exhausted that you just think I can’t do this.  With all big projects I would imagine there are days where you think the monies going to run out, people aren’t auditioning, it’s just a game sometimes of whose the last person standing.  Just remember have faith, keep on going, pick yourself up, get some sleep, if you have a modicum of talent its often those who can handle the most, have great friends, family and remember to be a regular person and that this is a job, you are a person first and foremost and don’t lose sight of that.

cmflatpack

Read the fabulous 5* review in The Herald http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/stage/review-theatre.25791991

36 responses to Who Said Blondes Have More Fun!

  1. 
    Annette Rochelle Aben October 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    sounds like you gals are going to rock the world once they turn you loose! I, for one, am looking forward to that! great interview

  2. 

    Well, I didn’t say blondes have more fun and I’m married to one.
    The interview is excellent. Did you have software to convert what Charlotte said into text? I hope so. If you didn’t, it must have taken a long time to transcibe.

    • 

      No software Rod, it took ages to type because I could talk to Charlotte for hours and I had to cut it down 🙂 I wanted to keep in how fast paced the conversation was. Its funny too because of sound distraction that I hadnt realised was there whilst we were recording.
      All the best
      Charlotte

  3. 

    Very nice meeting Charlotte. Very interesting. A beautiful setting in reality what the artist. Real people, natural, polivalent, hard work and who believe in their dreams. And if the shoes and dress are important, makeup and hairstyle also.
    That energy is always with you

  4. 

    Many times, I think if you’re really passionate about something, it’s in the bottom of your heart to do, then do it. No matter the odds.

  5. 

    Guess you could also have titled the piece, “Charlotte meets Charolette”!

    Great interview. Keep ’em comin’

  6. 

    What is new in future

  7. 

    A very interesting interview, Charlotte. You both put across how hard you work and how much you have to know if you have a chance of succeeding in your chosen careers. Good luck to you both!

  8. 

    Thanks for sharing this. Sounds like both of you have put a ton of work into your respective arts, and I have no doubt you will succeed. 🙂

  9. 

    Great interview! Although I was confused at first because you are both named Charlotte, LOL.

  10. 

    Fabulous to see two Charlottes with very similar goals. I have a question for Charlotte, (McGuinnes), have you any other projects in the pipeline for next summer like your flatpack? Have you filmed any of these that can be downloaded for people who can’t get to Edinburgh? Are there any avenues for that sort of thing in the acting world or is it just all about live shows? I find this all very interesting and would love to see the plays.

    • 

      I’ve sent a copy of your question to Charlotte Gill and I’ll get back to you ☺️.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    • 

      Hi Gill, here’s Charlotte’s answer: FlatPack unfortunately wasn’t filmed. As for next summer I have no idea – as it will be the first summer after I graduate so who knows where or what I will be doing! I recently filmed a shot comedy film as part of the 48hr Film festival by a Scottish company called LifeUp! productions. If you google LifeUp and The Potatoe on You:Tube you’ll be able to see it :).
      There is a brilliant website for watching live professional theatre at home on your computer called Digital Theatre Plus and also Digital Theatre Live which shows in various Cinemas across the UK – I see loads of London shows here in Glasgow at Cineworld using these screenings.
      Thanks for reading, Charlotte

  11. 

    This was a great interview; I really appreciated it because my sister wants to get into acting–she can’t sing (although I think she could learn if she tried . . .), but she still wants to get to perform like my brother and I do in Gilbert and Sullivan. She’s more dramatically-minded, though, anyway–I like comedy and general clowning around, and she likes more serious drama. I’ll have to have her read some of Charlotte(McGuinnes)’s advice. She and I are both planning to audition for The Taming of the Shrew production in one of our neighboring villages next year–two sisters, what could be better?–and if Charlotte has any advice for auditioning for that particular play that you could pass on, it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve dreamed of playing Katherina for eleven years! I mean, we have the same name–although she doesn’t spell it correctly :-).

    All the best,

    Cate

    • 

      Good luck to both of you with your auditions, I’ll ask for tips for you Cate.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    • 

      Hi Cate, I have Charlotte’s advice for you she had her opening night last night and has been rehearsing three shows alongside each other so consequently has hardly left the rehearsal rooms recently.

      Thanks for reading the interview. I love Gilbert and Sullivan! Also tell your sister not being able to technically sing isn’t always a hindrance. Even with very gifted singers on the Musical theatre course – the main thing they want to see is an ability to tell a story through song. A great example of this is Judi Dench singing Send in the Clowns – touching and poignant although not particularly technically gifted with singing. I think it’s great that your auditioning for local shows – this is how I got all of my experience. You learn the most by being around older and wiser actors – anytime you can watch, act or partake in theatre, take the opportunity! Taming is a great play. I myself would love to play Kate in the future. I’d say focus on a creating an atmosphere before anything else – create a space where you talk, laugh and interact just like in real life, even start with a conversation exactly like you talk to each other when alone. Once you’ve created that natural atmosphere begin to layer the words on top. Good Luck with the audition. CharlotteM 🙂

  12. 

    Charlotte McGuinness sounds like an amazingly confident and multi-talented human being! Was there one thing in particular that struck a chord with you as a singer when you interviewed her?

  13. 

    This is a terrific in-depth interview. I was amazed by the amount and variety of work on the course, never mind all the extra enterprise Charlotte demonstrated.

  14. 

    Fantastic interview! She is so talented..

  15. 

    Great interview. Awesome to get to read the thoughts of other creative people. Amazing interview!

  16. 

    Great work with this interview. It was a lovely read. You really do get the feeling that the two of you could have talked effortlessly for hours and kudos to you for having the stamina to transcribe the whole thing. 🙂

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