GFCA – Postgraduate Intensive Diploma

It’s time I came out of the closet.

The Actor’s Closet.

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Giles Foreman

I might have mentioned briefly, and rather cagily in the past about my part time acting studies that I started a few years ago when the boys were really small, at the Giles Foreman Centre for Acting. It is a small independent drama school in Soho, well a drama centre really as they train professional actors too, founded by Giles Foreman who studied and taught at Drama Centre. He also has schools in Paris and Luxembourg. It was recommended to me back when I was too shy to tell people I had always really, really dreamed of acting, by my lovely and very kind friend Nick – who is a great actor and who I trusted not to judge me unkindly or laugh at me – and I wanted to be sure of getting a great quality acting class. And that’s exactly what I got, so I’ll always be grateful to him, first of all for being so warmly enthusiastic and encouraging me to go for it and secondly for giving me good advice.

So, here I am three years later having trekked through some highs of success and some tears of frustration and a couple of crash-n-burns, in the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced evening classes at GFCA with the brilliant Dylan Brown and then Giles himself, and still not satiated and not put-off and only wanting more seriously to do it, and realising how much I want and need to be trained.

So – amazingly for such an oversharing facebook queen – I have secretly and quietly prepared for audition for the 4-term intensive postgrad MA-equivalent course which I yearned to do (and nearly auditioned for) last year, when Lucian was still just that bit too small and I was just that bit not ready.

10952303_340903702768733_2298836491052096742_nI kept going to my evening class, crammed in some Othello on the CLS tour to Mexico in May and prepared Emilia’s monologue, “But I do think it is their husbands’ faults if wives do fall…” from Shakespeare’s Othello and Eva’s ‘Kindertransport’ monologue from Jonathan Lichtenstein’s amazing play Memory (which I am now desperate to see/be in a production of at all costs) where she describes to her childhood friend, now an SS-officer how she put her 5 year old son on the train to safety in England.IMG_3083

I studied, I practiced, I felt good about it, then I felt bad about it, I had some coaching, I cried in the bath a LOT, and then I auditioned on 17th June and Remus waited anxiously to take me for dinner afterwards, expecting me to be an emotional wreck (not that he expected me to fail – well, maybe we both did a bit, after-all it was my first acting audition of any kind, but whichever way he expected me to be exhausted and emotional, which I kind of was). And apart from not noticing myself get on the wrong tube line and exiting, to my surprise at Golders Green instead of Finchley Road, I was as surprised as he was to find I was in pretty good shape, kind of elated, kind of terrified, that I thought it might have gone OK!

But I still considered it a massive long shot. I’m 35, with no previous acting degree and two kids, there are only about 16 places on the course and I knew in my heart I was what Giles might call a Wild Card. So I forgot about it.

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And then I got this!

So, I just wanted to warn you all that facebook shares will probably plummet when my decade of immense contribution to Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, with my over-sharing and photo-uploads will most likely come to an end. I am warned I won’t have time. Thank you to a few wonderful people – my friend the fabulous Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca, the inimitable Dylan Brown and the gorgeous Rebecca Wield (who is currently already on the course and will begin her fourth term as I start my first) – for collectively providing all the coaching, tea, biscuits, wine and moral support I could have wished for. I am so grateful. See, it worked!!!

The person I most want to say thank you to is actually my husband Remus. He knows why. I don’t even know how to explain it here. In vague: for how he’s got behind this plan, which must have hit him like a tonne of bricks when I first brought it up; more specifically for the massive unconditional love and support that he poured on me during that Café Rouge converstation where I cried my eyes out about all the presumed judgment I thought would be coming my way from others for this, about all the money my parents and my late Grandad gave me to get me through my violin studies and my crushing sense of guilt about wanting to do something else; for saying to me, “Can I ask you something? Do you feel like a failure?” – “Yeeeees! That’s exactly how I feel!” – and for telling me, “Nothing could be further from the truth,” which I SO needed to hear; for the frequent removal of the kids from my vicinity so I could prepare and for understanding and supporting the fact that, as impractical and ridiculous a plan as this might look from the outside, this is something I really need to do, to be whole and to be me. For all of this I have never felt so loved, and never loved him more.

So, there it is. I am about to be a full-time student once again, both terrified and eager and wondering what kind of “me” I will find waiting in December 2016 when I (hopefully!) graduate. Wish me luck, and see you on the other side.

My 2015: Pre-planned & In Progress

It’s not like me to be organised or to plan ahead at all. In fact as a general rule I like things to be as unscheduled and surprising as possible – I think I’ve always enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity that brings. Some, probably most people prefer the sense of security, order and control that planning ahead gives them and need the sense of knowing (or thinking they know 😉 ) what’s coming. I, on the other hand, always panic if my diary becomes what I deem “too full”, too far in advance (by which I mean a month…) It’s as if I am losing control of my ability to choose my own life and giving my power away to whoever I have promised to meet, visit, work for, etc. I’d say protecting this flexibility and freedom in the life has become my driving force over the last few years, probably to the point of dysfunction!

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I don’t quite know why, but I’ve always felt a deep sense of security in having my life unscripted, unplanned and un-promised and in being free to change, cancel or create something in the moment, according to what’s going on in my world at the time – fitting in with what’s right for me and mine in relation to all those quirks of life that you can’t predict, not what you think will be right for you months before, when we are all, as far as I’m concerned different people to the one we’ll be a few weeks hence. It partly stems from a fear of being trapped and partly, since becoming a mother, from a deep fear of promising to do something that will separate me for too long from my children.

Somehow, however, this year, 2015 is turning out to be my most highly planned-out year yet. For the first time in years my entire life is getting booked up, day by week by month, to the point where I find myself planning a project in 2016 already and getting accidentally ahead of myself all the time, thinking it’s coming up this Spring rather than next.

And you know what?…  I like it!

This is probably because everything that’s going into my diary is awesome and exciting. I feel pretty blessed and grateful that this is my life!

So here it is….

My 2015

January & February

A crazy whirlwind of orchestral work, acting classes, Theo Paphitis’ #SBS Winners’ Event in Birmingham and visits from my parents, my parents-in-law and brother and sister-in-law from Bucharest, one after the other! To say nothing of Remus’ massive televised concert in Romania and all the work involved there, events and concerts here in London.

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March

Classical Babies‘ 5th Birthday Concert is approaching and my acting partner Natalie and I will be writing and filming a scene for our showreel together, needing a DOP, lighting, music, the works. It’s a big project and we’re on a deadline of 31st March.

April

On 2nd April, I fly to Bucharest for a couple of days to see Remus play Paganini 1st Violin Concerto with the Enescu Philharmonic. For those who don’t know, I love Bucharest, it is a home from home for me, full of friends and family, great culture and events and favourite places to eat & drink! A trip there is always a treat. From there, we go straight to Cornwall where our boys, Gabi & Luci will be waiting for us at my parents’, already on their Easter Break. We haven’t been able to visit Gorran Haven (literally my ‘haven’ from the madness and pollution of London) for months much to our collective disappointment and I am practically gagging to breathe the sea air, take walks and chill with my mum and dad. (Though I’m tempted to pop up to London for a few days for an acting intensive at GFCA. We’ll see…)

May

Classical Babies will feature at Music in the Round, at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield! On the 18th, my youngest, ‘Luci Puci’ will turn four years old (which I can’t believe) and on that very same day, I’ll be jetting off on tour to Mexico with the City of London Sinfonia (including a couple of free days to look around!). This is my first real tour and although I’m gutted at missing Luci’s birthday, we’ll celebrate the day before and he’ll never know the difference. My amazing parents, officially the best people in the World, will look after the boys. ❤

June

In June, Remus’ brother and sister-in-law, Lucian (Snr) and Dana come over with their kids, Eva and Vladi – exactly same ages as Gabs and Luci, minus 3 months! – and we will nail Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park and Thomasland, Drayton Manor in one weekend. (Crazy but has to be done!)

July

After a visit from my parents for my nth birthday and Gabi’s 6th (he’s already requested a minecraft cake), Remus and I leave the kids in Cornwall again (sorry, Mum and Dad!) and jet off to Sinaia, in the mountains in Romania to teach violin at a Summer Masterclass course. Also, to be honest to enjoy a bit of kid-free time together in a beautiful place, even if it is a working holiday.

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A summer holiday with the kids in Cornwall follows and then our lovely, car-crazy Dacia expert, Danuț (who lovingly and perfectly restored our Renault 12) and his family come to us in London. (I say our R12, and she is, but really it’s Remus’ baby.) Then, just one week later we’re into…

September

… when my Luci starts school! From then on really, Autumn is a big mystery, for the following reason… Oh man, this is complicated, it’s really needs a blogpost of it’s own to explain. But to oversimplify it, for this post’s sake, for a year or more now I’ve been really tempted to audition for this four-term Postgrad acting course (MA equivalent) at GFCA, the school where I’ve been studying part time for the last 2-3 years. Both boys will be at school at it’s time I really do something with my life. I really want to be able to get work as an actor and not just fanny-around with it like I have so far, but the course is crazy-intense. I’m on the fence big time. But that’s another post… Suffice to say, I don’t know what I’ll be doing with my Autumn. It could be that, or more classes, auditions, violin work, Classical Babies, being a mum, a bit of everything like I do now… Who knows. Whatever it is, I know it’ll be creative and I know it will be worth it.

Which brings us to…

December

On the 10th December my Classical Babies String Quartet will be part of a big Charity Christmas Carol Concert in Knightsbridge to raise money for my most loved charity The Lullaby Trust (who I did my Violin Marathon for in memory of Matilda Mae). It will be a really beautiful event that I’m so proud to be helping with. I can’t wait for Luci’s first school nativity and  the usual Christmas stuff with the kids and then, for the first time ever for us (me and the boys) and the first time in maybe a decade for Remus, we’re spending Christmas in Romania! I’m very excited, because we get to spend some quality time with Lucian and Dana and our niece and nephew in their new apartment in the centre of Bucharest and the kids will go bonkers together! Then the parents in law will come over for Christmas Day and the big dinner. Sarmale!!! (my favourite Romanian food) Then for a week after, over New Year, we’re going the four adults, four kids, to a cottage/cabin place in the countryside where the kids can play in REAL snow (not the kind of single-layer flakes that close Heathrow airport) and we can sit by the fire and drink wine! PERFECT.

So, not only do I have the most pre-formatted year up my sleeve, I also have great plans for 2016 including a joint Azoitei family ‘Bucharest-London branch’ holiday somewhere hot and kid-friendly in the Summer, but also a brilliant idea for a big Lullaby Trust fundraiser in memory of Matilda Mae, akin to the violin marathon but quite different. I can’t wait! 

Maybe being organised is the way to go after all… Though I really think that after all my years of playing it by ear will stand me in good stead when some of these best-laid plans of mine ‘gang a-gley’.

Plans, plans, exciting plans…

I have so many creative things going round and round in my brain at the moment, I thought I’d write them all down, lest I forget to do one of them and in case it helps with planning…

First up, a Classical Babies ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Quartet Picnic!

I had such a good time planning Lucian’s 2nd Birthday Pooh-themed party and have so many props and things left over, it occurred to me on the day that I should transfer it all over to a Classical Babies concert! I want to have all the songs from the Winnie-the-Pooh DVD arranged for string quartet (I know someone who could do this amazingly, but it will be expensive so I may try to do some of them myself) and book my usual musician friends to play in the quartet with me. Then everyone can bring picnic blankets and I have some honey pots filled with treats and a picnic basket with bees buzzing out of it! I just can’t decide when to do it. Maybe the last concert of the Summer Season, in July. My themed special party concerts always have a great turn out but we’re a bit short on festivals, birthdays and special occasions this term so I need an excuse to roll out the prosecco again…

 

Next up, some more fundraising for The Lullaby Trust in memory of little Matilda Mae. Someone is running the Brighton marathon in her memory for her lovely mum Jennie (she of the Edspire blog) and Jennie asked if anyone would like to run too? I thought,

“Errrrm, noooooo!! I would not!”

But it got me thinking about a different kind of marathon that I could do, since my fingers are a darn sight fitter than my legs:

A Violin Marathon for Matilda Mae

Basically, I would get people to sponsor me to see how long I can play/practise the violin for continuously! I think, feasibly something like eight or nine hours might be the max without damaging my neck or wrist or muscles in my arms but I really I’m aiming for more than that if I can find a way to protect myself by having massage breaks, my physio mum on hand to deal with any aches and pains and regular loo breaks of five or ten minutes built into the rules! If, in my wildest dreams I managed to keep going for twelve hours or more I’m wondering what to do about noise through the night, whether it would be allowed to stop to sleep, or if I should lose a night and keep on going! But physically I’m not likely to last that long. Violin-playing pretty much does to your arms what running does to your legs and so you can imagine the effects after several hours. I’m also not working as much as a freelance violinist as I was pre-kids so I’m not in the same kind of shape as before where I could play six hours a day no problem. I will have to practise myself-in for a couple of weeks before, an hour, two hours adding more time every day – but this is great! It’s about time I got myself back into proper shape as a violinist and maybe did some auditions for other London orchestras (I work regularly with BBC Concert Orchestra – with whom I used to have a full time job – and the City of London Sinfonia who offered me my first regular paid work out of college several years ago, but never approached the others and I really should!) So, as well as raising money for a great cause I stand to gain from this too… It’s a win, win idea!!

The other question is, where should I do it? I need someone to look after my boys for the day or more it will take, so ideally my parents’ place in Cornwall where I will be this summer, since I need my mum on hand for physio anyway. But you need a LOT of sheet music to fill several hours and the big, full music cupboard I need access to is in our flat in London, which my husband also needs for his teaching, so I can’t even transport the lot of it down with me. I could play through the night in Cornwall without upsetting people, but in London possibly not, unless I persuade the neighbours and then I would keep the boys up… Though I could play with a practise mute to dampen the sound.

Then the question of who will verify that I keep playing… Will it be done on trust? Should I operate an open house system where people can come and listen whenever they like to see how I’m doing and grab a glass of wine and watch for a while, or maybe live-stream it on the internet (I have no idea how to do that by the way, but maybe someone can help me?) so people can log on to see if I’m still playing and time my breaks and anyone who’s curious as to what I’m playing for all those hours can have a listen! Questions, questions…. I’m really excited by the idea anyway, and any offers of help with setting up a sponsorship page, or a live-stream would be much appreciated!

Practising in front of the tennis at Wimbledon-time last year!

Practising in front of the tennis at Wimbledon-time last year!

 

I’m also planning Gabriel’s fourth birthday on the 4th July and a Planets Party for my astronomy-obsessed boy! I won’t waffle on about it here, but let my pinterest board do the talking. We promised to get him his first real bicycle with stabilisers, but now I’m wondering how smart that was as we just got Lucian a micro scooter so he can scoot with his brother and there’s really nowhere much he can safely ride around here. However, a promise is a promise, I just hope the scooter doesn’t get forgotten about. Too many vehicles in this house!

Then there’s my Reiki-attunement plans in the Summer, down in Cornwall and my plan to do a Classical Babies concert there in Gorran Haven, and new venues to find in Harpenden and elsewhere and my acting class I haven’t told you all about yet (I’m working on a Blanche Dubois monologue from A Streetcar Named Desire at the moment and have to do it in costume at Monday night’s class… I’ll keep you all posted another time!) So many plans and ideas in my brain and I didn’t tell you the half of them, but how useful this blog suddenly seems, to pin them all down and firm up my ideas. Feedback on all is welcome! Thank you… Coco xx