Dyslexic woe is me!

  • Sarah-Jane Vincent

    Actor

    Its official I have just done the worst audition of my life!, not only did my phone go off even though I thought I had switched it off, I had a sightreading disaster!. I managed to loose my specs in a river last week whilst battling with a swarm of angry bees, flapping my arms about like a demented woman and I knocked them in. I has to result to using my contact lenses today which don't correct my asigmatisum (god knows how you spell that!)It was so bad I had to take them out during the audition, god it gets worse!. I am also dyslexsic and didn't ask for the script in advance, stupid I know but I worry that it may effect my chances of landing a role. Of course having now done a pants audition I regret this decision. I would welcome any comments on how people cope with this condition and if anyone has experence of being prejudiced because of dyslexia.

    • 7th Sep 2007
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  • Alasdair Shanks

    Actor

    Hey

    It sounds to me like you just had a bad day. I am dyslexic too, and prefer to keep it to myself as when used it just sounds like an excuse.

    We all do great audtions and don't get the job and sometimes we do terrible auditions and get the job, because we were what they wanted.

    If it worries you practise sight reading and just learn from this experience and make sure, as best you can, it dosn't happen again!

    But don't blame dyslexia, your letting your self down if you do.

    All the best

    Alasdair

    • 3rd Sep 2007
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    Hi, yes it just sounds like a bad day.

    I am very dyslexic and i always ask for a script in advance, both jobs i am curretly doing i asked for the script in advance to look over. It shouldnt effect your chances of getting a job at all. And you'll feel more relaxed and confident with what your doing so will give a better audition.

    Just remember, judy dench it dyslexic - infact about 80% of the artistic industry are.

    Antony

    • 3rd Sep 2007
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  • Sarah-Jane Vincent

    Actor

    Hi Alisdair

    Thanks for your comments. Yes I too keep it to myself as I also think bleeting on about it never helps. So your advice is to get the sides in advance if poss and steer clear of sight reading?

    sj

    • 3rd Sep 2007
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    I'm so glad you posted this, I am dyslexic too. In fact so dyslexic I left school at 15 with a reading age of nine spelling age of seven and I still can't comprehend arithmetic at all.

    Thanks to adult education and the wonderful actors centre have come a long way since then. In fact so much so that I did my first rehearsed play readings this year. Up until now I would rather have stuck needles in my eyes than read in front of an audience of eminent directors and playwrights. So slowly us dyslexic people can improve with practice, and like Alex wisely says never used dyslexia as an excuse. As I found you very rarely get any sympathy or understanding. In fact more often not the director will be worried that you won't learn your lines quickly enough or that you will hold up the rehearsal process. It's much better to get your agent to ask for a copy of the script or bits they wish you to read before the audition, even if you just have 15 minutes or so to look through it before meeting the director. Then don't mention dyslexia at all in the audition if you can possibly help it.

    I know dyslexia knocks my self-confidence a lot and has held me back in many ways. I think I now have a lot to be proud of but do wish I could be more the self-confidence in auditions. I really do think it's self-confidence more than dyslexia that gets in the way.

    So I think you were definitely just having a bad day and I know lots of people who aren't dyslexic who have equally bad days. So focus on all the good days and jobs you've gained and don't let this one hickup worry you.

    Also in case it helps I highly recommend Nina Finburgh who teaches at the London actors centre, for anyone who is not confident sight reader be them dyslexic or not.

    Cheers

    TRACEY

    • 3rd Sep 2007
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  • Sarah-Jane Vincent

    Actor

    Thanks Tracey, you have cheered me up. I know that I have done some good auditions in the past and got jobs so all is not lost. I just have to put it down to having one of those days and chalk it up to experience. I will Check out Nina at the Actors Centre. Thanks again

    SJ

    • 3rd Sep 2007
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  • Alasdair Shanks

    Actor

    Hey,

    Well I think my advise if any was just be as prepared as you can. We all have days when the cat runs off, the gas leaks, terrorists blow up the tube and so on.

    I practise sight reading for 20 minutes a day as you can't always get the script in advance.

    At the end of the day it is a tough industry and we need to make sure we are as ready as we can be.

    Al

    • 3rd Sep 2007
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    completely agree, if you know your weeker at an area you should work at it.

    • 4th Sep 2007
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    Awww matey!! I know you;re a bl**dy good actress, 'cos we've worked together (hush - don't tell anyone!!) and I think you're great.

    And I never knew you were dyslexic! But I think that the advice to ask for the sides in advance is very practical - anything to give you an advantage!!

    We all have bad auditions - it's a fact of life. We either get over it and get on with it, or we let it spoil the next attempt. Don't, you're too good for that!!

    XXXX

    • 4th Sep 2007
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    Hi,

    Don't worry about the dyslexia thing. We have a dyslexic member in our co-op and casting directors are usually totally cool with it. If asked they will often provide the script in advance or give you time to read it before you go in.

    I'd just say that you need to make sure you are always early so you have time to go through the script and get comfortable with it in advance. Also, don't be afraid to be firm about it. If you've just come in off the street and they try to push you in early, just say that you're dyslexic and need a couple of minutes with the script. Don't forget that casting directors want you to do a good job, as will your agent if you've got one.

    I'm not dyslexic but this is my experience of dealing with casting directors in my capacity as an agent and co-op member.

    Don't be embarrassed about the dyslexia, people don't have such a negative view of it anymore. Especially as some extremely talented and successful performers have dyslexia.

    Anyway, if someone is shitty with you because of it then they're discriminating and you can sue! Would you want to work with such a narrow minded person anyway?

    Hope this makes some kind of sense, I'm rambling a little now...

    Geoff xx

    • 4th Sep 2007
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  • Lowri Lewis

    Actor

    This is an interesting post as I have recently found out I have dyslexia. I must have slipped through the educational net possibly due to the fact that we had to use computers in College and Uni. Low and behold suddenly I could write!!!

    Has anyone got any tips or advice as how to deal with it?

    At first I was shocked and upset and then relieved, it's strange how giving something a name can free you.

    • 5th Sep 2007
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    Two people i know are dyslexic and they are the most clever and creative people I know! They both are visual artists and their work is incredible(paintings, sculptures). From what ive learnt isnt it that people with dyslexia see and have to remember everything though images as oppossed to just remembering how something is spelt and so on? Sometimes being dyslexic can mean that your right brain is more dominant than your left which means your highly creative.

    Off the top of my head: Richard Branson, Tom Cruise(has completely overcome it) and Eddie Izzard all have dyslexia. Just to name a few.

    Best wishes,

    Jayne

    • 6th Sep 2007
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    Lowri - you only just found out that you had dyslexic! I thought it was bad enough only finding out I was dyslexic a few months before I left school, which was a bit late to get any specialised help.

    Anyway tips and advice. First and foremost don't let dyslexia knock your confidence. I think there are about one in 10 people who have dyslexia to some degree so we are not alone.

    Secondly I loved your comment about using computers and low and behold you could write.

    I adore my computer and couldn't get by without it. When I left drama school I couldn't get any work because I couldn't write a decent job letter. I met my husband in an amateur improvisation class. He worked in IT as a technical author and is the complete opposite to me on the education front. He thought I was a very good actress and couldn't understand why I wasn't working and when I explained that my letter writing was awful because of my dyslexia. He said he would help.

    First we used to meet every Thursday in the launderette with a copy of the stage and I would dictate letters to him and he would take them to work and type them up for me . Six weeks later I had a year's contract with a theatre company down south. When this contract finished I moved in with my then boyfriend now husband. He got me a computer and showed me how to use it he also set up lots and lots AutoCorrect and other clever helpful things, and although it was incredibly slow for me to write using the computer, I could write my own letters.;-)

    Several years later my husband found out about a software package specifically for dyslexic people called texthelp read and write and bought me a copy. Which was brilliant no longer did I have to ask my husband to check every single job letter. And this package also enabled me to be able to join an actors Co-op as I could install it on the Co-op's computer as well. Although even with this my writing was very slow and I used to find my days in the cooperative office quite stressful and exhausting. But I was determined to be a good cooperative member and I hope that I was.

    This Christmas my husband bought me Dragon Dictate, it's not a package specifically for dyslexic people. But because I'm so slow I just think this is wonderful. Before I got it, it would have taken me over an hour to write this short post on CCP today with my dictation package it only took me 20 minutes. How liberating. ;-) My dictation package isn't perfect by any means and you have to spend time training it which isn't easy if you can't spell in the first place. It also sometimes miss hears me and write things like "cat call pro" instead of "casting call pro" which I don't spot if I don't use my screen reader to read things back to me. Also it doesn't help with grammar so I'm sure my grammar in my CCP post is appalling.

    Anyway what I'm trying to say in this very long winded story is there is loads of software out there to help dyslexic people like us. If you are interested I can PM you the websites of the software packages I use.

    Cheers

    Tracey

    • 7th Sep 2007
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  • Sarah-Jane Vincent

    Actor

    Tracey thank you so much for that. I too did not find out that I was dyslexic till I had well and truly left school and wondered why I had done so badly. I would be grateful if you could let me have the website info on the software as I would really find it useful. Your hubby sounds one in a million. Thanks again for your support

    SJ

    • 7th Sep 2007
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  • Wendy Denham

    Actor

    Some one I know has got an audition for a pantomime and as she has dyslexia,she told the casting director this and asked if she could have the script afew days ahead of the audition just so that she could familiarise herself with it. She was told no as that would mean she had an unfair advantage over the other people going for this part. She is now in two minds as to whether she should go for the part.

    • 7th Sep 2007
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    Wendy - i personaly wouldnt want to work for the company, as it shows they are not happy or willing to accomidate others needs, and surely that would get in the way at some other stage.

    • 7th Sep 2007
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    My Mum did her masters in Dyslexia and also, I have just finished working with a woman who is severley dyslexic in Pride and Prejudice. She played Mrs Bennet.....quite a role and genre to take on when you suffer that strongly.

    Anyway, it's been found that if you print your reading material on coloured paper (lilac we used) it makes it easier to read. Same as if you're sending an email, put a background behind it and it's easier for dyslexics to read.

    I learned a lot watching the way she worked throughout rehearsals and she had actions for all of her lines. Not actions she would do onstage, but memory triggers for her brain if she got lost.

    It's such an interesting problem.

    Apologies if you know all that stuff.

    Susannah.x

    P.S. Not in a mean way but the image of you flapping your arms about and pushing your glasses in the river made me smile! xxx

    • 7th Sep 2007
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  • Sarah-Jane Vincent

    Actor

    Hi Susannah, lol, I thought I was the only one who did funney actions when learning lines, just goes to show!usually I print lines off on creamy/yellow paper which helps but I've never tried lilac. Cheers for your comments.

    SJ

    • 7th Sep 2007
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    Another way is to put a see through coloured acetate over the paper... pink seems to be one of the most successful. I am not dislexic but it does stop the words jumping about on the paper. Ultra successful technique. Hope that is of some help xx

    • 7th Sep 2007
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    I'm not dyslexic I just can't spell it!! Duh!! Sorry guys was a genuine mistake die to rushing the post!! xx

    • 7th Sep 2007
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