First Posted on this artical outraged many of the Aussietheatre chat room community. The main outrage was that it was thought that I was one “not to be crossed” when relating a story (a true story) about an actor I know who lied about where he was trained to get a foot in the door of some auditions. Anyone, who knows me, has worked with me or has had dinner or coffee with me knows that I really don’t care about training institutions at all… but I do care about honesty. This mis-interpretation by an aussietheatre chat room punter, really made me realise how poorly some comprehend what they read, and thus inspired me to finish up writing for that particular readership.


I know an actor who has developed a career on the back of a lie. It’s a funny story actually… if you don’t mind stories with a lie at the centre of them.
It goes along the lines of this:

Once upon a time there was an actor who went to acting school. Except he didn’t really go to acting school, he went to a university where you ca study acting as a part of your degree… this university was not in a metropolitan area. All who went to this university knew it as Charles Sturt University and it was based in the lovely repetitive town of Wagga Wagga.

The story goes a little bit like this: Despite being accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art during his second year of acting course in Wagga. This bright young actor decided to stay at Wagga to be with his girlfriend. And the pride that came knowing he was good enough to get into the exclusive acting school, and feeling that he was good enough o reject it, bought about a certain confidence in his ability. This confidence was then undermined when it was discovered that casting agents, and auditions didn’t rank the CSU graduate as highly as he hoped. In fact, he claims that the casting agents wouldn’t let him audition on the basis of his training. But low and behold, one day something quite fantastic DID happen…it went something like this:

Agent: Where did train?

Actor: Wagga

Agent: WAAPA?

Actor: No Wagga,

Agent: Yes I heard you: WAAPA.

Actor: yes.

Agent: that’s wonderful! We have really seen some great people come out of WAAPA in recent years.

Actor: Yes

And so, the actor got an audition. And had the chance to perform… and has, on the strength of those lies, progressed within his career to where he is today. So my questions are:

Is it ok to lie? Do the ends justify the means?
Is going to a drama school sometimes a liability not a prerequisite?
Should everyone get an audition regardless?

If it is, as George Burns once said: “Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Surely there is nothing wrong with doing what came naturally to him: lying? After all isn’t what actors do is to be someone they aren’t in a space that is pretending to be somewhere it isn’t, with a situation that is not real? So if the art is based on non-truth, then is lying all that bad in this art form?

The problem though has always been: how can one trust a liar? And on several occasions when self –professed liars have admitted the fact they lie.. I have been stuck in the conundrum of whether to believe them about their lying habits: or is it purely an “er duh” factor. Am I putting too much pressure on the truth, after all, don’t we all pretend to be something of someone we are not if and when the occasions suits or demands such from us? Don’t we all stretch reality a little when applying for jobs? Is it good to be honest about being a liar?

Perhaps. But when it comes down to the fragile and tenuous life of theatre people… I will say that I always prefer working with people who are straight shooters rather than those who say and do what they think they need to get by. Theatre is tricky enough than having to handle the boy who cries wolf in auditions.

But good luck to him… because theatre is a profession full of gossips, storytellers and Chinese whispers.. and what goes around comes around.