Jovana Miletic pens her first column for AussieTheatre about the highs and lows of living in London as a performing artist. Be sure to check in regularly for her tips on surviving the audition rounds, how to stay sane in the city and much more!
My first London experience was in November of 2010. I’d been back in Sydney a year by that time, after having lived in Perth during my acting training at WAAPA. My year in Sydney was well spent, I was re-acquainted with the Sydney theatre scene, participated in four shows and was enjoying the slow come down that occurs after having experienced the insanity of drama school.
However for some time previously, I had been battling the urge to travel around the west of Europe…
The first week after I landed left me feeling elated and in awe of the place. The sheer size of the city, the amount and diversity of people were like nothing id ever seen, the pubs and theatres, and/or pub theatres virtually on every corner. The cheap food and efficient transport system. The beautiful monuments and grandiose architecture. The place everyone had written about, that most wished to visit and I was finally there. London.
I spent a month in London before moving onto Italy, Spain, France, and then finally to my place of birth, Serbia. It was a four-month trip that opened my eyes to the world and to what it means to live freely, as only people on holiday can. My trip persuaded me to make the drastic move to London in June 2011. Arriving with bags and bags of hope, some money, one month accommodation and no family, friends or job to speak of, I was crazy to have made the move and only the insanity of hope allowed me to do what I did and not panic when reality came knocking. In my case reality was an ally…
People say it is best to live in the moment; I understood the concept of it and felt I had experienced it at times. However nothing grounds you in the present, as does a lack of routine. Every day was different, and without choice I fell into living for the moment, discovering along the way the subtle nuances of each hour. Accepting wholeheartedly what was given to me: a smile from a stranger, a chance meeting, a ray of sunshine… and then relinquishing it all before I fell asleep. I was actively moving towards my goal as nature intended, freely with the premise that control is beyond my reach, and finding stability with this understanding.
Now in 2012, a year down the track, there is so much to write about this city, its inhabitants and the theatre/film scene. Survival tips, websites, important people, interviews…all will come your way so stay tuned!
[pull_left]I like to share what I have learnt through trial and error as it makes it easier for the next person[/pull_left]I like to share what I have learnt through trial and error as it makes it easier for the next person. I have been given so much help and advice and wish to give it in return. It is important to keep this in mind especially now when the ‘entertainment’ industry has taken over the ‘arts’, and as artists we are all struggling to stand out and be acknowledged. Now is not a time to be stingy and closed, reserving ones energy only for that ‘gig’. It is a time to expand the web of allies and create what comes naturally to you. Do not compete, instead actively seek and learn from the ways of others, and influence the ways of others yourself.
There are many actors and actresses in London, so many of whom are struggling (for many reasons, one being financial difficulty along with most European nations at the moment!), however what sets the good ones apart is not so much their talent and tenacity as it is their attitude towards other artists. A lot of actors I have met understand that to get somewhere you need to be generous and open to the possibilities of working together. It is a mode of survival and it works.
London is a place to make connections, and have experiences of any kind. To sum up what I mean by this I will describe an average week in London.
It was the second week of the Olympics. I was waiting for a friend in Camden, the place to perform if you’re a muso, and I ended up meeting the Slovakian Olympic team. They had hired out a restaurant in Camden for the two-week period and had declared it their chill out head quarters. To my amusement and satisfaction I, firstly, discovered I can understand Slovakian and can hold a conversation using my Serbian language. Secondly, Slovakian men are gorgeous!
A few days later I was at the Spotlight headquarters (equivalent to Australia’s Showcast) when in came the statuesque Scottish actor James Cosmo known for Braveheart and Game of Thrones for a casting. The next day I attended a casting workshop run by BBC casting director Rowland Beckley. A day or so later, again as a result of the Olympics and quite by accident I spent a few very merry hours in a bar in Soho with some of the Serbian water polo team…
You get my point? London sleeps but not for long…until next time, stay awake Australia!