Karen Bartke [karenbartke]
What is your profession? What is your title printed on your business card?
What links do you have on the Internet: website, blog, social networks?
I've got my own website www.karenbartke.com and I'm also on Twitter, which is a nice little tool for updating the website with news. I also use Facebook, but that's a very personal networking tool rather than a professional one - strictly friends and family only.
Do you usually attended seminars or coursework to advance your professional work or would you consider yourself a more self-taught person?
I didn't formally study to be an actor - I've pretty much learned on the job over the last 20 years. I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing though. Like everything, there are bonuses and drawbacks in both approaches to the profession. Learning on the job means that I didn't arrive with any preconceived notions of how things ought to work, which potentially makes it easier for me to roll with the punches as each new job introduces me to new challenges and rewards. On the flip side, I missed out on learning in depth about the history of drama, or stage make up, or how to file a tax return. I wouldn't have been averse to going to train - I just couldn't afford it when I had the opportunity and now I can't afford it because I've got a mortgage!
Which goals have you focused on in your professional career?
I think the only goal an actor should ever aim for is to find a way of delivering a performance that is as close to complete truth as it can possibly be - for you, for your fellow actors, for the audience, for the director - for everybody. I live for the moments on stage or on camera where you completely forget that you are acting, that people are watching you, and you surprise yourself with your own reactions to what's going on around you.
How did you begin acting?
I had always wanted to act but never had the nerve to try out for anything. When I was 15, an advert appeared in my high school inviting applications to join the Glasgow Schools Youth Theatre. A much more confident friend of mine was keen to go and I basically tagged along on the coat tails of her bravado. When I got too old for the Schools Youth Theatre, I went to University and ditched acting altogether until after graduation, but once I was out in the working world I realised how much I missed it. I joined an amateur theatre company in Glasgow and spent several years performing in plays and musicals, gaining experience and learning from the many wonderful and talented performers I met who chose to do it for love, not money. My entry into professional acting was largely a matter of luck. I was asked by a friend to do a favour and the favour turned into an introduction to an agent, which turned into a small role on a TV show etc. etc.
Please list an Internet address where one can see something about you.
Please list three actors and three actresses that you like.
Sir Ben Kingsley
What is the archetypal character in which you tend to be typecast?
Coo - victims mostly. Emotional victims. I've cried a fair few tears on stage over the years.
Do you see yourself working in this field in twenty years?
I sincerely hope so.
Have you ever thought of giving up on the profession? If yes, when and why?
Yes. Usually when I realise that I can't afford something or that I can't afford to consider auditioning for a job because the pay is too low and I'd be stuck financially.
One personal reason why to keep doing this work
Acting is the only thing I think I have any real talent for, personally or professionally. I love the feeling of acting opposite someone and getting lost in the scene, so much so that my own reactions catch me off guard because I've not planned them or thought about them. I don't honestly know how well I would survive as a person if I had to do without that. It's just something that I love, and if I am lucky enough to be able to get paid for doing it, then I count myself exceptionally fortunate.
How do you feel when people recognise you on the street?
It's kind of disconcerting, but extremely flattering too. It hasn't happened to me very often, but any time someone has recognised me they've always been very friendly and pleasant, so I've not had any bad experiences. I blush furiously though and I seem to lose all ability to speak in coherent sentences.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in acting?
Make sure that you want to act because you just want to. Not for fame, not for money, but for the sheer joy of acting. As a profession, this is bordering on soul destroying and if you want to experience all those lows it better be for a blimmin' good reason.
Please list something you have not yet done, but that you would definitely like to do someday.
Go to Pompeii and Herculaneum. I studied archaeology at university and I'm still really fascinated by the idea of these two cities, frozen in time on a single day by a volcanic eruption. Unlike most other sites, these two cities let us see how people were actually living their regular, every day lives on that one day - all the boring and fascinating little details of day to day existence that many other sites don't retain.
What is that special film you never tire of watching?
Blimey. There's a few. Parenthood, The Civil War by Ken Burns, Chaplin, Good Night and Good Luck - loads really. I love to watch and rewatch movies and TV shows. It's a mixture of enjoying the familiarity and loving the sensation of being caught up in the story even when I know every line off by heart. I would like to think that I'm learning from other actors as I watch them - I certainly find myself drawn to watch and rewatch performances that have moved me.
What do you use: Mac or PC and why?
I must admit that I'm a PC at the moment, but it's mostly a financial decision. I'd love to own a Mac, but they're too pricey for me. :-(
What were your favourite subjects when you were in primary/secondary school?
I loved history and english particularly. I liked the biology and chemistry too, although physics was beyond me and maths was a bit of a stretch on occasion.