English Actors and Londongrad

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Some of you may have recently seen a TV serial called Londongrad; in Londongrad, there are more expat actors then have ever before appeared in a Russian TV serial. The great majority of these actors and non-actors (as Augusto Boal politely terms non-professionals) were cast by English Actors International; a Moscow based agency started to work alongside Russian casting Directors and within the Russian film and TV industry per se, casting talented international actors in Russian projects. The greatest success to date of any of our English actors has been the casting of our very own Martin Cooke, and English theatre director and actor, as one of the main characters in a forthcoming blockbuster TNT spy comedy called ADAPTATION (to be screened next year).

Selection_083The belief of English Actors is that acting is not an art, it is a craft. Trained actors have skills which have been taught to them or handed down from rat to rat. The desire to play is the root motivator of this craft and this assertion is expressed in Schiller’s dictum, ‘to play is to be.’ This is an immutable truth. There is a philosophical basis at work in the actor’s practice, one which is common to all people of all cultures. Storytelling, dancing and singing alike, run through the human experience. Theatre and playing are such a major cultural constant throughout human history that one is tempted to ascribe metaphysical connotations to their existence. Has there ever been a culture, which did not evolve a theatre form? Has there ever been a culture, which has not sought to manipulate these theatre forms for propaganda and thought control or cultural assimilation purposes? Luckily for actors the answer is ‘no,’ you’ll never be out of work in an autocracy; they need you to spin their yarns. And we the people get to lap up this seeming gift of distraction and amusement because we the people, all over the world, absolutely love theatre and film and TV and singers and songwriters and dancers and acrobats and fire eaters and illusionists because: A) we are inadequate and doomed to wallow in illusions (according to Plato) and B) the will to action is the greatest expression of evolutionary symbolism. “I have only one language and it’s not my own” (Derida.) On one hand we are stuck in a cave gawping at flickering shadows; and on the other hand we are flying beyond the barriers of time and engaging in a quantum ritual, which transcends language and sensory perception and elevates us to the level of unknown pleasures in parallel dimensions. I think it is a bit of both. Depends if you’re watching the Cherry Orchard or Blind Date, basically. Not that Blind Date isn’t an allegory of cosmic eroticism at some level. All successful stories refer to archetypes, which have been identified and honed throughout the ages, the ‘foolish lover’ being not the least among them. This is why we play; this is why we cast theatre lovers and talented actors in Russian, Anglo-Russian and English, theatre, voice-over, film, and stage and TV projects in Moscow, Russia and beyond. Watch out for Expat actors, not only in Londongrad but in many more Russian film and television projects – after all, everybody needs a bad guy!