Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Steppin' to the Bad Side...

After the messy audition and callback process and a two year break from the stage, I have been cast as Mary Jane Wilkes in Big River!
My very talented friend, Josh, also got an awesome role and I just can't wait to do another show with him!

PS- we are not doing the show in sign language (I don't think)

A Masochistic People (part 2)

The callback.

The callback is a second audition. The first audition is used to weed out the people who can be of no use in the show and the callback is used to fit those left standing into the roles of the show. The callback is possibly worse than the audition...

The fact that you have made it past the first stage gives you hope that you can live through the second. You carefully plan your outfit (keeping in mind the "light movement" in which you will have to participate) and try to ready yourself mentally. Unlike the audition, there is really no way to prepare for the callback. The callback consists of three seperate stages: cold reading, learning a dance, and learning music from the show. The music is not handed out prior so, unless you memorize the entire score, it is pretty much a guessing game.

As you approach the gymnasium used to handle such an event, you see your competition for the first time. You immediately realize that you should have worn the other outfit you were considering and you definately should have put on more makeup. You keep breathing and wait for the shindig to start.

Before you know it, music is thrust before you and you have about two or three minutes to learn it before you have to perform it in front of the 30+ people at the callback. You go slowly, one note at a time and everyone seems to be learning it at some super-human rate. After a few minutes, you are directed to sing it one at a time. As others go before you, your eyes remain glued to the foreign music in front of you and hope that you will have a random spark of brilliance. Your turn: you do your best, sing through your croaks, and realize that you don't sound half as good as the people who have gone before you. But it is over. End of phase one.

Phase two consists of some "light movement." And by "light movement" I mean a dance audition. Some of the girls had to remove their various heels (smartie me...I wore t-straps!). You learn the clumsy steps and perform them in groups of three. This was by far the easiest of the three phases. No problem (although, I am a little ashamed to say that I was quite winded by the dance routine. More gym for me!).

Phase three was a struggle: cold reading. Cold reading is the devil. You are handed a scene, given no direction, and expected to read it with some accuracy. Funny. When you walk up to read for the director (bear in mind you are always performing for the 30+ people there) your feet feel large and clumsy, your hands just can't seem to hold the script straight, and everything you say seems overdone and melodramatic. Nerts. However, the cold reading is short lived and soon you are free. Until the director decides to go for a bonus round...

An unexpected round four has reared it's ugly head. Another piece of music finds its way into your sweaty hands...but this is different. You know this song. You have heard it. All of the sudden, your confidence is restored and you praise Jesus that you have one more chance to prove that you aren't a spaz. You take a few minutes to look over the song, you decide the style in which you want to sing it, and you patiently listen to those who go before you. You step out and use your final moment of the callback. You do your best and your try your hardest.

The director thanks everyone, and you leave.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Masochistic People

Theatre people are indeed a special kind of people. They subject themselves to humiliation, scrutiny, and dangerously low self-esteem...usually all during one process: the audition.

The audition is a process in which you spend a certain amount of time perfecting a performance piece (whether musical or otherwise) to present for the director, musical director, etc to find out whether or not you are good enough for their show. After filling out a sheet that asks you everything down to your height, weight, and eye color, you wait in the 'green room.' You wait and wait all the while you can hear snippets of other people's auditions: your competition. As you listen to them sing you cut yourself down and tell yourself you shouldn't be there. Too late...

Your name is called and you begin floating toward the door. The door somehow has grown three times the size and it seems as if it is taunting you. You sneer at the door as you approach it, all the while you are unsure how you are moving as it seems that your legs are incapable of moving independently. The assistant asks how you are doing and you mumble something incoherently as the door grows larger and larger. The assistant wishes you luck and leaves you at the monster door. The door is no longer taunting you, just shaking its head in disapproval.

You have reached the point of no return and you reach for the handle. As the door opens, you realize that this was your choice and you are here because you want to be. Quickly, you throw a smile on your face, a smile that is a little to big suggesting (ever so eloquently) that it is forced.

After standing in the doorway for a few moments smiling like a fool, you remember what you are supposed to do: hand your resume, head shot, and audition sheet to the director...hand the music to the pianist. Somehow, by the grace of God, you are able to tell the difference between the ten pieces of paper in your hand, recognize what resembles sheet music, and manage to throw it at the pianist. A brief apology follows and then you display your grace for the director. You straighten the papers in your hand and thrust them at the director all the while maintaining a big-chomper grin.

The director accepts the few sheets, refers to his schedule and asks you a question. After some silence he repeats his question:"What are you singing for us today?" The words swirl around your head like cartoon birdies. The words make sense but the sentence is rubbish. You realize what he is asking and shout out your answer a little too loud and with a little too much gusto.

The next few minutes are a whirlwind. The piano begins making a foreign noise and yet you know the tune. You sing for a minute or so and then it is over. With your knees shaking the director thanks you and out the door you go.

Who would subject themselves to such an experience? There are a lot of us out there. Scary.