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  • Mismatch Theatre

I Moved To The Big City, Wish Me Luck

By Sasha Brown

Hello and welcome to my life story. I’m completely kidding, I can’t be bothered for that. I’ll give you a snippet though. Whenever a grown up asks you what you want to do with your life and you reply with “acting”, you will immediately hear one of the following: “*after clenching their teeth as they suck in their saliva* ooo, that’s a tough business to get into”, “Oh! My neighbours’ cousins’ ex-boyfriends’ colleagues’ daughter’s friend used to work at the BBC, let me put you in touch!” or “Are you gonna move to London?”.

Spoiler alert, I moved to London.

I was told it would take about six months to settle, so I started counting down. Week one, I was loving it. I could not get over the fact that I now lived in the capital city, surrounded by all of these incredible landmarks, the history immersed in the streets, that place you see in all the films and all the “top 50 cities to visit before you die” articles. Six months?! As if, it’s been 5 days and I am at one with London. Week two arrives, I am not a happy Sasha. I miss my friends being a twenty minute walk away, I miss the shops and the good pubs and the harbour being a half an hour walk away, if that. I miss smiling at strangers and them smiling back and to top it all off, I cried in the middle of M&S because I couldn’t find the butter. Week five arrives and I’m acclimatising. It’s okay because now your friends are just a twenty minute train trip away. The shops, the good pubs and the harbour are now Camden Market, rooftop bars and the Thames. I’m still smiling at strangers and every now and then they’ll even smile back. And I don’t want to brag but I can now find the butter with complete confidence. This went back and forth for about, dare I say it, six months. And I have to say I am at last genuinely feeling settled there. I get it, I get how London works. It’s so fast paced but there’s so much to do and enjoy that you don’t realise you’ve been on trains for two hours, seen about seven national monuments and spotted four members of any James Bond cast all in the last 24 hours.

There are, however, a few things I have noticed as an outsider trying to settle into the Londoner lifestyle that I just can’t quite get my head around.

Scarves. Everyone wears scarves. I don’t know why, it’s not Antarcticly colder in London than the rest of the UK but it’s like it’s some kind of neck initiation to the London way of dressing. I should stress that I work by Tower Bridge so it might be that as soon as people hop off the tube at London Bridge Station the scarf just immediately finds itself upon ones shoulders and actually the rest of London is perfectly scarfless, nevertheless, all I see is scarves. And I don’t get it.

The tube. ‘Oh here we go, another person ranting about the tube, woop-de-doo, find some original material!!’ No, I don’t want to. I cannot get my head around why people run for the tube. They go every three minutes?? I can guarantee you have spent more time reading this blog than you have waiting for the next tube to arrive and that is completely okay. The world isn’t going to stop. In Bristol, the bus supposedly comes every half an hour and when that predictably doesn’t turn up you angrily exhale and wait for the next one or stroll to another stop, no problemo. No one is going to be mad because you didn’t arrive 180 seconds earlier. If they are then frankly that sounds like a them-problem and maybe you should tell them that.

The tube part two. I can assure you right now if you wanted to know what stress feels like, imagine coming off a tube to find that the upwards escalator is on the far right side of the stairway and you’re coming in from the left. You have to bypass five separate lanes of traffic to get to your final destination of the stationary side of the upwards escalator. First, the downwards escalator. This is comparatively easy to navigate as it’s just a straight cross through. You can only hope the contents of the downwards escalator - both stationary and speed walking sides - are all members of a rhythmic gymnastics team and understand the value of synchronised crossing. The stairs. Again, relatively easy to bypass. The crowd is a lot more diluted for these lanes, these are the fitness people. The ones who must complete their 10,000 steps for the day or else their Fitbit will be mad. Then we come to the upwards escalator. The two part terror. What you need to understand here is that you are joining a funnel of what feels like the majority of the population dividing into two lanes. Your only aim is to be on the right hand side, the stationary side, the side in which you just stand and let the sweet, sweet moving floor take you to the heavens. You do not want to find yourself victim to the escalator climbers. When approaching the funnel of anticipated stress you have to be very clear with your intentions. If you accidentally misjudge it and approach the funnel too close to the escalator then that is not a relaxing amount of distance to execute the cross. If you don’t manage to get through the funnel and you dawdle for so much as a millisecond then you have found yourself right in the peak of the fast lane, you are now part of the stampede and you can stop for no-one. You cannot just simply “slip” into the stationary lane once half way up the fast lane because then you might end up on an escalator step immediately behind someone without leaving the obligatory one step gap and well, that’s enough to call the authorities. If you’ve joined the stampede, you have to suffer the consequences and ride it out. Say goodbye to sweat-free pits and hello to calves of steel and a perfectly toned arse - if only that’s how it worked, right? If you are lucky enough to cut through the stampede and make it to safety then the sense of pride (and relief) is remarkable.

Suits. Why do so many people wear suits? Everyone wears a suit to work and I don’t understand why. If you’re not customer facing, who are you trying to impress? If you’re spending the entire day sat in an office then surely everyone would be happier in their comfies. I understand there are some people who consider smart wear to be their casuals (yes Dad, I see you there wearing your pork pie hat and pin striped jacket for your quick pop to the shops) but if everyone just wore their casuals to work every day then there wouldn’t be a pretense to dress smarter than everyone else. It won’t be long before Bill starts wearing a tailored hat to work because Bob had his £600 shoes polished yesterday, take it down a notch, people.

I should stress these are just a few things I have noticed arriving in this crazy (in the best way) city and I can guarantee it’ll only be another month or so before I find myself intentionally going down the fast lane of the escalator to get the tube that according to City Mapper is “due”. I think I’ll keep my dungarees on standby in case of any last minute anti-scarf/suit emergencies though.

When it comes to being an actor in London, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

In my eyes I would move to London, looking out the window of the train whilst listening to a motivational pop-rock song (my choice of life-soundtrack at the time was Alanis Morissette’s version of “Crazy”, as heard in Devil Wears Prada… basically I thought I was Anne Hathaway). I’d step off the train, gracefully drop my luggage and a charming gentleman would come along and offer to help. I respectfully decline because I can pick up my own luggage thank you very much, but we get talking and he tells me that he’s the number one agent in London and there is absolutely space for me on their books. I give him a headshot which I conveniently have in my hand and the following week I get a call saying I’ve been booked as the lead in a major blockbuster film. This did not happen, bizarrely.

I started work in a theatre because I needed to pay my bills, and what better place to fuel that fund. Coming into an environment where everyone I work with is also a fellow actor was pretty intimidating. Suddenly it felt as though my first class degree in drama and acting was irrelevant because my diploma didn’t have RADA on it. I might as well have studied Biomedical Science and introduced myself as an actor. Everyone was discussing all of their upcoming projects, fringe shows, workshops that they can somehow afford to go to and I was laughing along thinking about how great my banoffee pie was once I stopped crying and found the butter. My manager even joked that she’ll receive emails from people about the rota and their spotlight pins and headshots are automatically attached. Ha ha. My headshot is now connected to all emails.

Something I eventually learned, and not soon enough, was that I should not compare my pace to those around me. Everyone has had a completely different previous three, five, even ten years to get them to the point of us all being at this job on this Wednesday afternoon, of course we’re not going to be at the same points in our career. Yes you do become a small fish in a big pond, but you’re still the same fish you were back in that much smaller pond last year, so bear that in mind and stay focused on your own ambitions. With that being said, don’t disregard people’s achievements. Be happy for them, you’d want them to be happy for you, and use their experiences as advice! You can learn so much from your peers so avoid the jealousy and take note. They’re succeeding at what they love, good for them. After giving myself slightly more than my initial few months of settling in I found the motivation to email around, send some self tapes and a few months ago I eventually got an email saying that not only had I booked a job, but the role had been created for me! Yes I am gloating, I was pretty chuffed. I can officially say I am a working actor without cringing. We excitedly spoke on the phone later that day and set arrangements in place, filming to take place this April…


Thankfully it’s being rescheduled. Sasha: 1 - Corona: 0


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