Friday, 12 August 2011

Rêves (dreams)

Well it's in! The contract has now been returned to me signed by all parties, the car is booked, the ferry is booked, the moving date is set and now I'm just waiting to go.

Had my big bro here at the weekend last time i saw him was May and and the time before that was December so it was great to see him before he requires his passport to visit me! He arrived at Victoria Coach Station at the very lovely time of 06:30am and so we literally dumped his stuff at mine and played catch up til 03:30am the next morning, because that's how we roll :) actually a tame night in comparison to nights out past which have seen us wind up in strip clubs, underground jazz bars and even graffing someone's car (do not ask but I assure you it was all legal we are just very good at finding things to do and random situations to be in). So we caught up in style before he had to leave early evening Sunday :( however next time I see him i'll be in Paris which is pretty damned awesome, I think (I hope)

Been a funny old few days here lots going on got my driving license updated (that was super quick work DVLA!) also got my decree nisi through (hard to say how I feel about this anyone who has ever gotten a divorce will know what I mean) and also London has been under attack from the riots.

Funnily enough they were going on all weekend and my bro and i were totally oblivious to this as we weren't exactly keeping an eye on the news we were too busy having a good time. Id heard a rumour but then these things do happen round here from time to time, people DO get shot and fights DO break out but life goes on (oh what a blasé to violence world we live in). Had a few messages from people as the rioting increased checking I was okay which in the end prompted me to take a bit more of an interest into what it was that was going on that was so horrendous I was getting so many messages promoting me to stay safe from friends and family and when I finally caught up with it it looked pretty bad.... We were all stood around the telly in the gym Monday day watching it unfold like bad extras in Independence Day.

I wasn't too worried initially London is a very big place and the riots began nowhere near my peaceful little pocket in Pimlico, in fact I joked that unless the looters suddenly got cultured and developed a taste for fine art and antiques only then would we have to worry. As i walked home the police activity was increasing, armed response units were trawling the streets and as the night drew on the activity was getting louder and louder and I had no idea where it was spreading too. Sirens galore, alarms going off and this very loud 'boom' could be heard every now and again and I had no idea what was happening. Now due to work being carried out on my house there is no TV and no Internet so thanks to my mum in the Midlands and Facebook on the iPhone for keeping me updated as to what was going on in my own city haha. Turns out it got as close as Chelsea and Sloane Square although this was not reported on the news...

There's been a weird atmosphere and needless to say Monday and Tuesday were pretty sleepless nights with the constant sound of sirens and choppers going through til the small hours and I'm a light sleeper so huge apologies to my clients as I pretty much yawned my way through those days but to be fair Tuesday morning especially after Monday nights riots (the worst) everyone came into the gym operating on very little sleep so we were all a bunch of fitness zombies for a day or 2, I don't think anyone slept much through that.

By Tuesday there was a heavy police presence in Pimlico and rumours galore about rioting breaking out in Victoria (my friend who was in Victoria when the riots were meant to be kicking off assured us she was there and asides a mass amount of police there was little else going on) but it was hard to know what to believe in amongst all the hearsay. Obviously the police don't aim to panic so they can't really tell you much but at the same time it's nice to know so you can get out of the way!

By 4pm they were advising everyone to clear the streets and by 6pm not a single shop or office in the area was left open ( however the gym didn't shut...the bosses legged it home but the rest of the staff were there...standard management behaviour)

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It was like living in war time Britain people were walking noticeably faster than usual to get offnthe streets and get to their homes; there was a very weird atmosphere about the whole thing and it felt very uncomfortable. I wouldn't say an air of fear just a vast amount of uncertainty. Good feeling and London spirit have limped back today after 2 consecutive and considerably more peaceful nights, but still there is a lot of police everywhere and I think it's going to take a major event where London proves it can pull together with minimal trouble for the London spirit to return.

Anyway that's all I'm going to report on that as that wasn't the only thing to happen to me over the weekend, something AWESOME happened to me as I also had some news which has seen me swinging from the chandeliers ever since-Disneyland Paris called me. Yesssssssss that's right Disneyland called ME!!!

Why would Disney call me??!! Only to make my dreams come true of course....

A couple of years ago I somehow bagged myself an audition with Disneyland Paris to be a stand in for the role of Annie Oakley in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. When I say 'somehow' I mean fate or the law of attraction or the powers that be granted me an audition. I had applied at the beginning of 2009 to be a groom looking after the horses on the wild west show show as part of one of my early attempts to move to Paris, and since applying I had successfully auditioned for shows and parades and was on the books for Disney as a close 'friend' to Cinderella ;)

In November 2009 a week before Annie Oakley auditions were scheduled to take place, the artistic director was sat in his office with one of the resorts casting directors and was shuffling things round on his desk and saying he really ought to tidy his desk more. Whilst he was shuffling things about, there underneath all the paperwork was my cv detailing my experience working with horses. Apparently he glanced at it, picked it up & in his very American voice said;

"i mean look at this, what the hell is this even doing on my desk? I don't do employment, I don't hire these people, stables isn't my area!" and was about to stick my cv in the bin when the casting agent looked up and recognised my name. She went off to double check and sure enough there I was on file; Karen Duffield - successfully auditioned for parades and shows so they knew I was up to standard as a performer and they had a recent polaroid photo they had taken of me.

"OK so we know she can perform Let's see if we can get her in so we can test her riding skills"

Next thing you know I am sat there at my desk in the Council offices in Totnes, Devon listening to some French woman asking me if I'd like to audition for the role of Annie Oakley in the Buffalo Bill show at Disneyland I could barely register the enormity of this phone call. I think I cried at my desk! Just a couple of years before I had been sat in the audience of this show with my parents and my husband, a million miles away from being anything but one of the 1000+ members of the audience enjoying the show and here I was being invited to go to audition for it. This is like being asked to go practise football skills with the England team or be a backing dancer for Madonna-massive and something you totally thought would never happen and I was stumped as to how it was happening! I would have thought I was more likely to get a major role in a west end show than be invited to audition for this such was the impossibility factor!

This clip shows the role of Annie Oakley at 01:00 and at 04:45

They wanted me to go out there the following week and the morning would consist of horse riding skills and then should I make it past that round then the afternoon was for the acting audition. I had booked the eurostar and my hostel before she had even hung up, my answer was yes yes YES!!!

They told me there was no job so to speak they had 2 actresses who perform full time and they also had a list of stand ins should the girls need holiday or sickness cover and I was auditioning to go on the list. I didn't see how I stood a chance in hell of getting it (the wrong attitude I know) but just to be offered the experience was amazing so I took it on the grounds that I was being invited by Disney to go ride stunt horses in Paris possibly on that stage. Sod the outcome live the dream!!!

The night before I sat at home watching videos on YouTube which people had uploaded of the show. I still remember my husband asking if I was okay because I was crying but it was because i was sooooooo happy and all I could squeak out was "oh my god I can't believe this is going to be me, I'm going to be there on that stage, maybe that horse...look what I'm going to be doing!!!"

When Jennifer Hudson won her Oscar for Dreamgirls I always remember her saying

"oh my gosh look what god can do".

Now whilst I'm not religious myself I can totally understand her sentiment in saying that as it's exactly how I felt.

I came back to earth as I felt a total fraud when i got to the audition and found myself sat in a room surrounded by international stunt riders from film and television, dressage riders, circus riders, champion vaulters....

So Karen what's your experience with horses?

Errrrrm I have one and used to work at a riding stables. Truth is I'm not properly trained, I've never ridden a well behaved horse in my life and I have never competed and no right now I have noooo idea how or why I am here.

Waiting to audition:
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The audition was insane, i think back and don't know how i kept my nerve but i guess you just get on with it, although at the time when i was lead out onto the stage i was confronted by the largest amount of people i have ever seen at an audition, there was a whole x-factor style audition panel, not to mention creative assistants, backstage people, horse trainers and probably even the cleaner!! I hoped this wasn't their idea of entertainment for the day I did feel very much like a Christian being thrown to the lions especially as I was escorted down the dimly lit tunnels which provide the horses with their run up to and from the stage so they can burst onto the stage at speed and exit the same, (bit like a braking lane for lorries on the motorway) and then out into the flood lights of the arena itself! It was incredible being there in that massive arena looking up to the seats where not 2 years before my family and I had sat watching the show. Funnily enough I even had the same horse (I know this because I watched my home movie of the show from that particular holiday when I got home!) which was actually fate in itself because they changed horses just before my audition. That's nice fate in some ways but in others they happened to change it for one that was notoriously difficult to ride (the girl before me hadnt been able to control her at all) and by god did she make me work for it! By the end of the audition I don't know who was sweating more me or le cheval! She didn't want to do a single thing she was told that day, she wanted to do her routine and go back to bed and here was this rather rude stranger on her back trying to make her walk and change directions and basically do nothing with her that is in the script. I didn't know this at the time it was chief sitting bull who told me all this later as I was concerned my audition nerves had fed through into her and made her tense (horses are very sensitive creatures you know) but no apparently she is just a sod and I did well to make her do anything at all.

My noble steed behind bars :)
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Either way somehow I passed the riding audition (only 2 of us did!) one by one we were lead back to the arena to confront the large panel, one by one all the girls came back with feedback such as 'my riding was okay but not good enough..." there was even a "sub-standard" to say i was panicking was an understatement. Then it was my turn (i was last it was agony!) when i got to them it was all actually very informal and they were smiling (could have been bearing their teeth) i waited for my 'thanks but no thanks' it never came. Apparently being able to control an out of control horse gave me brownie points as did retaining my sense of humour whilst she tried to make a mockery of my audition. Riding awesome, I looked great, see you this afternoon for the acting.

I nearly threw up on the spot this was even better, things like this just don't happen outside of movies!!!

Flying the flag:
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In the arena:
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A fellow audition and I playing in the stagecoach
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Show me a home where the buffalo roam:
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I had no problem with the afternoon as in my mind it was the easiest part! Use your best Ohio accent, act like a tomboy (nooo worries) but skip around like a girl, wield a gun, improvise, crack jokes (thank god as I learned the lines but they just seemed to find a hole in my brain somewhere and leak out) and act to characterless voices (mickey and Minnies voices coming out over the speakers so I could pretend they were there was kind of strange) this was then followed by a trip to the offices where they interviewed us (riding, acting and personality in that order apparently and it was during the interview process the artistic director told me the amazing story of how he found my cv on his desk and so had invited me to audition last minute and then it was thanks for coming, here are some souvenirs to remember this day by (I still have them, like I'd ever forget) and we will call you...

They did call me 24 hours later to tell me I was their girl.

So I have been getting on with my life ever since waiting for this to happen. I wouldn't say I'd given up on ever being used but with every month that has passed since 2009 it became less likely but now here it is! 2 years in the waiting/making it reminds me of a poster my mum used to keep in her office which said 'the impossible we do at once, miracles take a little longer'.

As I'm going to be in the neighbourhood now and im still friends with Chief Sitting Bull (we got on really well at the audition so styaed in touch) he informed Disney of my imminent move so I had a call to say; soon as you are settled here please come by so we can sort out your paperwork and organise for you to start your training then we can look at when the girls' holidays are as to organising you covering them.

You see when you wish upon a star...


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