What’s your other job?
Reader and admin leader for InterAct Stroke Support – the only UK charity dedicated to supporting stroke recovery by using professional actors to deliver a live and interactive reading service to people who have had a stroke, in hospitals and at stroke clubs. We read twice a week for two-hour sessions.
How and when did you get into it?
A fellow actor in a show I was in said they were looking for actors to read in south London, which is where I live. That was in 2001.
What happens if you get an audition?
It is 100% understood that readers can cancel if they have an audition.
And what if one of those auditions turns into an acting job?
The pool of actors is big enough to cope.
What makes it a good other job for an actor?
I think seeing real life in all its cruelty is grist to the acting mill. Seeing people who are at a low point makes me count my blessings – if I’m feeling depressed about not having had an audition for a while, seeing patients who have suffered severe strokes makes me have a word with myself about not being so self-absorbed. Also it’s utterly flexible.
Does being an actor help you do it?
Only actors can do this job. To engage someone who is very poorly, and probably frightened and depressed, you have to have the performance sklls to bring a story or poem or song to life, especially as you’re fighting against the hubbub of a busy hospital ward.
And does doing it help you as an actor?
It’s great sight-reading practice. I’m not a Spurs fan but I’ve read bits from their website to a gentleman who was a lifelong follower, I have sung medleys from The Sound of Music to a whole ward with patients and staff joining in – and I’m definitely not known for my musical theatre credits. I’ve also sent a few people to sleep. And I wasn’t singing a lullaby.
Could you do it full-time?
Definitely not. I often drag myself to the hospital with a heavy heart, but I usually finish the session feeling positive and inspired because I’ve met someone really interesting, had a really good chat or feel that I’ve made a difference.
Would you recommend your other job?
You have to be emotionally robust to do this job – I have seen actors quit because they find the sight of people who are so unwell really upsetting. The charity has also had funding issues recently, especially with the restructuring of NHS trusts, so there aren’t the opportunities there used to be. Having said that, I usually find it an immensely fulfilling and interesting experience, and have met some fascinating and inspiring people.
Nicky Goldie can be found tweeting at @nicky_goldie