Saturday, November 5, 2005

I Love Auditioning (not)

Yesterday I celebrated 3 months living in New York, and today I went to my first New York audition. It is for a musical that was produced on Broadway in the 60s but has been rewritten and is receiving a showcase production in January. I sent in my headshot & resume to the director several weeks ago (per the submission requirements), and received an email shortly thereafter inviting me to audition. Yippee! In the email, the director outlined what he was looking for:

“Please prepare a one-minute monologue that will show you off to your best advantage.  I want to see and hear YOU, and a longer monologue will not be necessary.  If you are right for one or more of the roles, you will be called back at a later date to read from the script.  There will be NO singing auditions until a later callback.”

Imagine being called in to interview for a job, but receiving instruction like this. Seemingly specific, yet open ended enough to cause extreme anxiety. I needed to find out what role I might be right for so I could show the same part of “ME“ for the audition. Did they want to see the girl-next-door ME, the good-girl-gone-bad ME, the timid school girl-but-vixen-underneath ME-- which ME did they want??? So, I did some research and found that I am right for any one of 3 characters, 2 of which will be played by the same woman. This poses a problem, as I want to be considered for everything I am right for, but I cannot possibly portray 3 different personality types in the same monologue. ARGH!

It is at this point when I start to think that maybe I should not go to the audition at all- beg off with some lame excuse about emergency surgery, or a death in the family, or my dog needing to have her teeth cleaned. You know, something they would not dare to dispute. As a last ditch effort, I go back to my repertoire of monologues to see if there is anything that would remotely work for this piece. But nothing I have is quite right, except my comedic monologue about Santa Claus being on trial for sexual harassment by one of his reindeer (a favorite around Christmas-time). However, the audition is being held in a church and there is some foul language in the monologue and I don’t think that being struck down by lightning is in the cards for me right now. By now it is Thursday and the audition is Saturday and time is running out to memorize something new. So, I have a choice to make. But, I am too chicken to make it then so I decide to wait until Friday.

On Friday I think about the frustrations of being a performer and not knowing what the director is looking for. But then I remembered that, duh, I am a director too. And what is MY thought process when I, as a director, hold auditions? Well, in the first 10 seconds I decide if the actor is good or not. And if s/he is good, I then try to figure out what roles I have that they would be good for. That’s it. I don’t think about what type of monologue they have selected, or if they are wearing the right outfit, or if their resume is on 30# paper.

This revelation is a breakthrough in rational thinking! I head home immediately and pull out my monologue repertoire- I find the monologue that is the most ME and hope that it is still memorized. By Dog it is! It is now Friday afternoon and the audition is in 24 hours, and I can feel confident that I will do well! I will persevere! I am excited and cannot wait until the audition arrives!

Well, I spoke too soon because I think it is written in stone that an actor should never go into an audition with confidence. Ever. Friday night/Saturday morning I was plagued with ”actor’s nightmare“ dreams- ones where I am in a play but I have no idea what the character is or the play is, but I am on stage and the audience is waiting. Another where I am at a callback and all of the other actors have their audition materials memorized but I haven’t seen them and director thinks I am horribly unprepared. I woke up with a sense of dread. Should I do this? Maybe I can just sleep in, but it would be bad not to show up. Darn it. I have to go.

Other than accidentally getting onto an un-airconditioned subway car and having uncomfortable shoes, the ride to the audition was uneventful. I got to the church, signed in, and waited among 5-6 other audition hopefuls. We didn’t look each other straight in the eye, but looked just past each other mumbling our monologues to ourselves. Had an outsider looked in, they would have thought we were possessed people waiting to get excised.

I finally get called into the church hall to do my audition. The room is massive and I am asked to stand up on the pulpit to deliver my monologue. Those who know me know the irony of this. I shake the hand of the director, who is the only one watching the audition, and walk up onto Dog’s stage. ”This is it,“ I thought. ”Make it or break it. Move it or lose it, and all of those... other cliches...“ Just as I turn to start to deliver my speech, I hear a noise from the floor of the church. I peer to the back and cannot believe my eyes. ”Oh, I hope you don’t mind,“ said the director. ”They are doing a bit of cleaning.“ There, in the back of the church, was a man with a vacuum cleaner. A very LOUD vacuum cleaner. ”Just project, dear,“ said the director. “I’ll let you know if you need to speak louder.“

All of the preparation, and fear, and uncertainty, and sleepless nights, etc, etc, etc, and the moment is shared with... a vacuum? I started to laugh. I haven’t laughed that hard in a really long time. ”No problem,“ I said. ”I always liked improv.“

Well, the monologue went just fine. And I got a callback. For the lead role. So, if anyone asks if acting can exist in a vacuum, you can tell them, ”I don’t know, but I know it can be done in the same room as one.“

Yuck Yuck Yuck. =)


  1. You know... sometimes I miss acting, and then I read things like this and I realize....


    Fingers crossed for you! Thanks for the chuckle :-)

  2. My worst dream is rocking up to an audition, being called in and realising not only do I have nothing prepared, but that I don't even know what the hell I'm auditioning for.

    Glad I'm not the only one who has them.

    Happy three month anniversary. Hopefully next year I'll be celebrating the same thing (just gotta keep praying to the Greencard fairy)


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