My First Real GIG by Ian Bastin

Ian Bastin is a recent PTE School alumnus who just got his first speaking role in the TV series THE PINKERTONS  acting alongside his instructor,  PTE School director, John B. Lowe.  We asked him to tell us about the experience.



It’s 4:30 pm. The call sheet (how many did I get emailed…I’m drowning in emails) said I had to be at the “circus” at 6pm. When the wardrobe person told me I’d find her at the circus, I was like, wow, there’s a circus in Grosse Isle. Lucky buggers. I wonder if there are elephants?

The circus, does not, as most people would think, involves clowns stuffed in a Volkswagen. It’s the heartbeat of the operation, where we “actors” are transformed from “me” to “them”. It’s where I found MY OWN FRIGGIN’ TRAILER!!! Yeah, I got my own trailer. It even had it’s own toilet Right. I know.

So back to 4:30 pm. I’m already at the circus. Somehow I was so afraid I’d be late that I turned up this early. (Umm, on time in theatre, I have learned, is already late…early is on time…but not this early). I’m playing an actor in a travelling Shakespearian Troupe, in the mid west, in the 1860’s. I have read the whole script, over and over. I have read and studied the scene from Hamlet, which we will be playing out on the stage.

I have one line.

I’m nervous.

And I die. On stage that is. Plus I have to lie dead for a while. Dead people, incase you didn’t know, don’t breath. To date, I do. I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish this.

Did I say I’m fairly nervous?

Then, I am transformed. When one of the crew sees you emerge from your trailer and does a gaw-faa…well. I had on salmon tights ok. My TV debut, I’m wearing salmon tights and a fake goatee and mustache (worth, I might add, $400). The facial hair is glued on, limiting my ability to smile, fearing the whole ensemble will pop off. Which will be a problem in about fifteen minutes when I meet my fellow actors.

I am acting in this with, frankly, some of Winnipeg’s acting Royalty. I know you have seen them in productions. I have. One of them is my former teacher at PTE, John B. Lowe. The first words from John are ones of support, and some good advice. His door is open. For some reason I didn’t expect to get all these man crushes on the cast. How wonderful and lucky to work with seasoned actors! When this happens…keep your eyes open. Learn learn learn! John’s second words were probably hilarious. Cause everyone else’s would prove to be. It’s crazy that they pay you to have this much fun.

Ok. Now on set, if I so much as sniffle, someone is handing me a tissue. I’m thirsty; some one is running to get some water. I am a princess. So I thought. But no, John explains to me, it’s all to keep this machine running. Everyone does their job. Actors act. Therefore nothing gets lost in the madness. And it is madness out there. Organized chaos. But everyone, and I mean everyone, is respectful of your role in the whole operation. It is a well-oiled machine, and it works! I don’t think I have ever worked with such kind people in any other job or industry.

And so we start. We stop. We start. We call the shoot off because the wind is so fierce it might blow the lights down, and turn over the flaming torches and set the forest we are filming in, on fire. Then we start again.

All my nervousness is gone now. I’m just so pumped to be here, with these wonderful actors and this great crew. We work until the late hours of the night. I’m tired, but I’m happy. No one, and I mean, no one is complaining. Its like they issued a job warrant for every Polly Anna in the area, to turn up here and work. ( Well, Polly Anna’s who also have a twisted racy sense of humour).

You know, I started this all with PTE’s Intro to Acting, with John, followed up by some theatre studies at U of M, some roles in the Black Hole Theatre, a fringe show. But it started at PTE. I just really took the course because I had sat with some acquaintances, and they were going on and on about “Downton Abbey” and blah blah blah…and I thought… I’m either going to shoot myself or I have to find something to challenge myself with. Thanks To “Downton Abbey” I’m here (Spoiler alert…I so knew he was going to die in that car crash).

And all this journey led me to this, my first serious gig on a TV series…well, maybe ten minutes, then I get to do my one line “I can’t breath”, then I lay around on a stretcher not breathing while my “dead” body gets poked at. Oh…and I even had special effects…foam out of my mouth (first time I had about enough foam to fill a large cooler…second time was the charm).

And, to top it off, the fools paid me. I would have done it for free.

But don’t tell them that.