I have recently been involved in an interesting online discussion about lying on your Curriculum Vitae. Are CV's important? Obviously they are; it tells prospective employers what you have done and what you are capable of ...
Yes, it's on my CV. I can ride a horse bareback through a railway carriage while holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a briefcase in the other
I always think that it is the reference that is most important and in any case, in the entertainment business, when I employ people as corporate actors, I have invariably seen them at work on stage and know people who know them.
"If someone is a pain in the neck to work with, I know about it well before the CV stage."
And so does everyone else - actors please take note. As an actor or performer you can only put down what you've been in and shows are easily referenced. It's no good saying you've done two seasons with the RSC after leaving RADA with First Class Honours - unless you have done so - as you'd be rumbled very swiftly.
However, when it comes to claiming 'skills' as a performer, the whole CV changes:
I've known actors who claim to have mastered every accent under the universe, but whose Welsh and Pakistani are interchangeable?
I've known actors who claim to be mountaineers having once taken the train up Snowdon and walked the last bit.
I've known them claim SAS and jungle experience due to a year in Sea Cadets at school.
I put quite a few skills on mine, but in the knowledge that I can do them, or learn pretty sharpish how to do them in a short time.
At some point you will be caught out if you follow this route. I was. I was cast in Cymbeline (a lesser known Shakespeare jobby) and allowed the company to believe I was a pretty good swordsman when I wasn't.
By the time we got to the production they had to fire me or train me and so, early every morning, I was taken to a field and put through my paces by a fierce fight director. So I become a pretty good swordsman. I did then go on a stage combat course to settle the matter, but morally I'd done it the wrong way round.
Regarding horse riding, I can trot along happily enough on a horse, but you have to know your limitations there. I was once invited to audition for a small role in 'Sharpe' and the casting lady phoned me and made it clear that when I turned up I would have to be able to mount and ride a horse as if I did it every day; trotting, galloping, jumping and so on. I knew that no-one would profit greatly from me fetching up for the audition and made my excuses.
But when I received a phone call from someone asking me if I could 'still' ride a horse bareback, I asked what the job was, then the fee and then said yes. This was knowing that I had to ride a horse through the set of a railway carriage with a stunt co-ordinator and a stunt horse and took the gamble that it wasn't going to be too tricky as long as I kept my balance.
Why they asked me a if I could 'still' ride a horse bareback I have no idea as I hadn't ever done so, but it was a controlled gamble as my wife is a horse riding instructor and she had me around the schooling ring and I set off to Wimbledon Studio without a qualm and did it. For those interested here is the advert:
I come on at 41 seconds for about 1 second. Don't blink please. That took 2 days filming. Or two hours for me and the rest drinking tea with the girl who ran into the door.
I could put myself down as some kind of spectacular stunt horse rider, but that would be an outright lie as my limitations are great. But there's no disputing the fact that I can ride a horse bareback through a railway carriage while holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a briefcase in the other.
I have grabbed many opportunities along the way, by just not saying no, but on the other hand, when I am interviewed face to face myself for roles I tell the truth of how I achieved certain things and in many cases the prospective employer just has to like you.
And they also pick up on skills you may have. I once had a very small role in some dreadful film. It was about two lines as the father of one of the main characters as the film revolved around children in the main. One of the actresses playing a child (because she looked very young) was Ruby Bentall, who latterly went on to play roles in Poldark and Lark Rise To Candleford.
I was on set for about two days and was having a cup of tea with her and a couple of others when she asked me to do a card trick. I wasn't sure how she knew I did card tricks, but she told me that the casting director had chosen me for the role as he knew I did card tricks and would amuse the children on the set during the 'hanging around' periods, of which there are plenty.
"So it appeared I had been cast due to my magic ability rather than acting skill on this job."
This came home rather strongly when the film came out and my scene had been cut. I always wondered if it had been cheaper to hire me on a bit-part character role basis rather than get in a kids entertainer for two days, but hey ho, a job's a job.
So the message of this blog post is this: let everyone know what you can do, but under no circumstances lie - unless you are absolutely sure you can do it.
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.
Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.
He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.
He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.
David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.
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