My life is taking such odd turns from this whole ‘theatre’ thing. Tonight, for example. I could be at a show I wanted to check out at Shenkman, CRIMINAL GENIUS from the Orleans Young Players, directed by mighty man Zach Counsil no less. But, aside from the fact that I LOATH the Saturday nite trip back from Orleans on the 95 (You Kids!!), there was another consideration. I already owed the blog two posts, and if I went to a show tonite, I’d owe three. And If I did NOT get any of those posts written tonite, after returning home late from Orleans, then tomorrow I’m off to the Rideau Awards, and THEN I’d owe FOUR. So, to sum up, I’m skipping a show I want to see in order to stay home and write a blurb on the internet (that I don’t get paid for) ABOUT theatre, so that I don’t get too backed up on posts about how much I love theatre. Sometimes I think I’m just fucked, you dig?
But since that’s established, let’s get on with the totally platonic self-fuckery, and what better place to start than (drumroll please…) the Audition Post! Because I know a lot of you readers who get off on me squirming in agony have been just WAITING for this one. Well, wait no more. Get out your bondage straps and settle in for the tale of the tape, folks. It should be a gooder.
For the record, the audition in question (my first ever-ever, by the by) was for an upcoming Fringe Festival show called COMPLEX NUMBERS, written by the adorkable ™ force of nature known as Nadine Thornhill, and directed by Ken ‘the God’ Godmere. I got the invite to audition straight from Nadine herself, and at first I wasn’t gonna do it, or MAYBE I was gonna, but only to do an audition, you know? Not to actually get the part. But then I mentioned it to Nancy Kenny, who totally pushed and poked and prodded, and…well, let’s face it, folks, if I had the power to refuse Nancy Kenny I wouldn’t have an apartment covered in cat hair right now, now would I?
I e-mailed Nadine and booked an audition time, and we were off to the races. I had to prepare something called a ‘contemporary monologue’, and would then have to dry-read from her script, and I had less than two weeks to do it. And maybe that’s plenty of time for someone who’s actually DONE either of the things I just mentioned, but I was not one of those people. I got cracking. By which I mean I ran to the Book Bazaar down the road after work, and picked up the first thing I could find containing a monologue from the last half-century. I ended up settling on the opening piece from ‘WORK’ by one James O’Reilly, from a show that premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 1991. I found it in a collection of short one-handers called SOLO that I lucked upon. The monologue was about a frustrated server describing a recurring nightmare about his restaurant work, and I could partially relate , being back of house myself, so I got to work. I read, and reread. I practiced. I developed little moves for each new bit of dialogue, worked out a whole routine for the entire manic, high-energy piece that I was sure would dazzle and wow and…
…yeah, you can see where this is going, can’t you? Let’s skip forward. It’s audition nite, and I find Nadine’s home and arrive actually slightly before director Ken G himself (I’d just seen him the night before at the Elmdale, continuing his winning ways with THE NEIGHBOURHOOD at Crush Improv’s ‘out time…but that’s another story). Nadine has a perfectly goddam beautiful home, and I already feel a little declasse. But that’s all right, I always feel like that. A couple others arrive soon enough, including a lady named (if I recall correctly) Ellen, who did her monologue just before me. She picked a piece out of DANGEROUS LIAISONS, and did it pretty spiffily indeed. Ken gave her some directions and tweaks as he needed, and it was cool to watch, and experience.
Until it was MY turn. Then fun switched off for a few minutes. And those tiny nervous twinges I’d been feeling all the while ramped up into something a little closer to a myocardial infarction. I barely managed to launch into my psychotic tirade of a monologue, maybe squeaking one or two actual breaths of air along the way, before the whole thing got mercifully interrupted halfway through by a late audition arrival.
I took the opportunity to briefly breath again. When we reset, Ken had some helpful words for me. Namely, that all my acrobatic histrionics that I’d spent so much misguided effort mapping out were, of course, completely out of place for the show we were trying out for, that my every theatrical impulse was an affront to the almighty (my interpretation), and would I please just start it again, only this time, stay the fuck still and just ACT.
Which, to my credit, I actually did. And ya know what? It felt a lot better the second time around. Ken, being the Godly Gentleman he is, agreed. He ran me thru a few more variations, these involving me speaking directly to Nadine in an even more subdued approach. I did my best, and even though he could clearly see all of my obvious flaws (poor projection, lack of breathing, etcetera), I did start to enjoy the process quite a bit. It felt more like class, and that I could relate to. Ken knows his stuff, and I can safely say Nadine has picked her director well.
We all settled around Nadine’s kitchen table then and did our reads…Ellen first (who was pretty spot-on), then me. I had a bit of an awkward time of it, but I don’t think I did TOO badly. By this time, I was just glad they were still letting me speak out loud, frankly (I would have cut me off about 20 minutes ago). From what little I read/heard, it’s a fun script, and should be a dandy show.
I took my leave then with a well-wishing hug from Nadine, and all but sprinted to the Carleton Tavern for a few flagons of ‘Oh Shit, Did I Really Just Do that?’, which thankfully they served in quarts. By midnight I was dulled enough that I’d managed to stop telling myself I was the worst actor in human history and should just give it all up right now. By 8pm the next evening I was able to take solid shits again. Is this how ALL auditions go? Christ, no wonder actors are fucked. Remember that Takashi Miike movie AUDITION? Where that dude meets this girl, and it seems all cool, but then she goes psycho on him and paralyzes him and starts cutting on him and torturing him and shit, and does it with a sick smile on her face?
Yeah. Yeah, that’s what auditions are like. And despite the hit my digestive system took, it was an amazing experience, an amazing LEARNING experience, and I’ll never hear lightly the words ‘I’ve got an audition’ from one of my honest-to-gosh actor pals again. Thanks for the opportunity, Nadine and Ken, you guys are the goods. And if I don’t get the callback, I kind of totally understand. Although, you know…I’m really NOT the worst actor in human history. Which for me, is saying a lot. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)
No…you’re not the worst actor in human history. Based on what I saw, you’re really, really fucking good.
Brace yourselves, fellow thespians — The Viz has got game!
Welcome to the club, brother. I’m proud of you.
Hope you get the callback tonight. I would love to see you in a play because I know you would be great.