Thursday, June 25, 2009

ALERT! I've been cast!

Well, it looks like I've succeeded. Mostly.

Headshot number six turned out to be the winning ticket.

I've been cast in the ten-minute play Yellow Kelly's by Christopher Newman; directed by Thomas Martin; also featuring Barbara Douglass.

It's not paid, but a lot of people should be coming out to see it, and it should be fun!

Yellow Kelly's, and all of the plays in SLAMBoston, will be on Tuesday, August 4th at the BCA Plaza Theater at 539 Tremont St. in Boston.

Don't think my quest is over, though, just because I'm cast. I still have two headshots left!

What will happen to them? Stay tuned for further adventures!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

#7. Shakespeare Now!

Macbeth! That's right, a full-length production of Macbeth, my favorite of Shakespeare's plays! Well, not really. He was my favorite character on Gargoyles at least.

The Boston Playwrights' Theater. Exactly the same place as my first Shakespeare audition.

Yep, that's where it is.
It was a busy day. It was also a rainy day. I was walking all over town in my slacks and my necktie and my shirt that I borrowed from my roommate telling who owned nice hotels that I would be an excellent desk agent or a doorman for them if they would just hire me.

I didn't have time to change for my audition, so I showed up wearing my wet slacks and shirt, looking slick because of both my duds and my dampness.

I ran into Adam Sander, with whom I was in a devised theatre piece at Emerson. Apparently he was cast in the Pinter series with Fort Port Theatre Channel. Nice going, Adam.

It wasn't long before I had to auditon.

I was greeted by the director and two other people who plucked my headshot right out of my hand.

"What do you have for us?" they asked.

"Romeo," I said simply.

I looked out at them waiting for some sort of signal to go ahead. I could only see the crowns of their head because they were reading my resume.

Suddenly, I was at a loss. When you enter an audition, you are supposed to control the atmosphere of the room. But, really, I didn't know what the right thing to do was.

My options were either to wait for them to finish and suffer further silence, or to begin my monologue and risk their missing the start of it.

I could have also asked, "Would you mind paying attention so that we can all get the most out of this?" but that would probably make them self-conscious. And then they wouldn't want to be around me ever again.

I split the difference by waiting for at least one of them to start paying attention before beginning.

This audition just felt like business as usual. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that was reflected in my performance.

Now, here's the real kicker. Shakespeare Now! wanted two copies of my headshot and resume.

I spent two headshots on a mostly tepid audition.

I wish there was some way I could tie a string to my headshots so that I could just reel them back if I don't get cast.

2 headshots remain

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monologue: Romeo

When I asked my business of acting teacher Ted Hewlett what classic monologue I should memorize, he told me:

"Terry, you're not going to be young forever. You should take a look at Romeo."

Romeo! The lover to end all lovers! Hot damn, how about that? I was pretty flattered.

So I grabbed Speak the Speech from the library and looked up Romeo's monologues.

Two were listed. One was from the balcony scene - "What light through yonder window breaks" and all that.

I can't use these monologues. I simply do not have the confidence to stand in front of people who have seen countless performances by better Shakespearean actors than me and say, seriously, "What light through yonder window breaks?"

So I went back to the text and looked up another one. It's not as lovey dovey. It's more like a love-fueled, smoldering rage. That's more up my alley, I think.
Heaven is here,
Where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog
And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
Live here in heaven and may look on her,
But Romeo may not. More validity,
More honorable state, more courtship lives
In carrion flies than Romeo. They may seize
On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand
And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin.
But Romeo may not. He is banishèd.
Flies may do this, but I from this must fly.
They are free men, but I am banishèd.
And sayst thou yet that exile is not death?
Hadst thou no poison mixed, no sharp-ground knife,
No sudden mean of death, though ne'er so mean,
But “banishèd” to kill me?—“Banishèd”!
O Friar, the damnèd use that word in hell.
Howling attends it. How hast thou the heart,
Being a divine, a ghostly confessor,
A sin-absolver, and my friend professed,
To mangle me with that word “banishèd”?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

#6. SLAMBoston

A ten-minute play festival developed by Another Country Productions. All eight plays compete for a cash prize.

Could I see any of that green, I wonder?

The Boston Center of the Arts’ Calderwood Pavilion. Despite living so close to this place last year, I only ever patronized it during my last semester to see The Random Caruso.

I walked to the BCA through the rain by myself. The auditions were in the Plaza Theatres. It was really happening – I didn’t think there’d be so many people.

Nor did I expect to find fellow Emerson College graduates Megan Reynolds and Sasha Castroverde. Equipped with our tried and true Emerson training, one of us was bound to be cast, right?

I checked in with the stage manager. She told me that they were running behind schedule, so it would probably be a while before I got called in.

She wasn’t just whistling Dixie – it had to wait an hour after my scheduled audition before I got called in.

In any other situation I’d be pissed, but I was actually able to use the hour to great effect – meditating and running through my monologue until every intention came naturally.

Oddly enough, listening to the recordings of my monologues here on my blog was quite helpful as well. It’s so easy to get caught up in “feeling right” that you forget how you sound to other people.

A bunch of people were in the theater attending the auditions – presumably the producers and directors of the various plays. There must’ve been at least a dozen, all fairly young.

Thanks to my hour long meditation I didn’t feel anxious at all. It also helped that everyone was very warm and receptive.

I performed my monologue from The Random Caruso, standing in the very place where I saw The Random Caruso performed. Meta! I got a lot of laughs.

Moments after leaving, I was handed a side from a play called Yellow Kelly’s. They wanted me to read the monologue presented and then come back to perform it for everyone.

Upon reading it, I could understand why they wanted me to perform it: both the side and my monologue were about flustered young men trying desperately to convey a convoluted need. Looks like I chose my material wisely.

I read it over and over, then I went back and performed it. Got some more good laughs.

Even after walking through the rain and waiting around for an hour, this was probably my most enjoyable audition yet.

As an actor, it’s important to remember the reason I act, and that’s to tell a good story well. Performing well before an audience is one of the chief joys of my life. It makes me happy.

Actors can bitch about the hard-knock life of auditioning with barely any guarantee of success, but then they’d miss out on an important truth.

An audition is a period of time during which you have a captive audience.

And that is a real gift.

4 headshots remain.

Monday, June 15, 2009

#5. Chamber Theatre Productions

A four-month tour of classic short literature adapted for the stage - everything from Ransom of Red Chief to The Most Dangerous Game - typically performing in venues for younger audiences. Not until I saw the promotional materials for this production did I realize that I had seen it once before when I was a kid.

Yep, I remember Ransom of Red Chief.

Unlike most (that is, all) productions seeking talent, this one announced its salary right off the bat - $500 a week. For a starting actor? Not bad at all.

The catch, I guess, is that every actor has to take turns driving. Having been taught how to drive in New Jersey, I'm embarrassed to drive in front of anyone whose respect I wish to maintain.

Sacrificing my dignity for a halfway decent income? In this economy: you bet!

Comrades Joe Ruscio, Chelsea Schmidt and I walked around the Park Plaza Hotel twice looking for 2 Park Plaza. A kindly doorman pointed us in the right direction. It turns out that 2 Park Plaza isn't really in Park Plaza, but across from it, on the corner of Boylston and Charles.

I have walked past this place every day that I attended classes at Emerson College. To find out that the auditions were here was bamboozling - like a twist on 24 - like discovering the real terrorist was inside the White House all along.

Really, it's just an office building.

After practicing our monologues in the Public Garden, Joe, Chelsea and I headed over to Park Plaza, where there were already a handful of actors waiting for someone to let them in - including Emerson College BFA Acting Studio Alum Scarlett Redmond.

Nothing boosts your confidence like knowing people.

We all talked about not having as much money as we would like until someone opened the front door and brought us up to the waiting room - a small break room, with a non-functioning water cooler and coffee maker. The stage manager for the production told the lot of us to fill out the informational forms, and to take a look at the audition guidelines.

Wh... Audition guidelines? Yeah. It was a list of things that we should and should not do when we went in to audition. It was something like this,
-Introduce yourself with your name.
-Do not announce the titles of your pieces.
-Stay as far upstage as possible.
-Project loudly.
Etc. All present were somewhat taken aback at the specificity of the guidelines. Those that weren't just common sense seemed designed to minimize any kind of natural connection between the actors and the producer.

Though there was a security in knowing exactly what to say and do during an audition, rather than the usual guess-and-check method.

As the lot of us were filling out our forms, several other familiar faces from Emerson arrived; fellow actors Laura Murphy, Eric Rollins and Megan Reynolds.

(I am using their full names to get them maximum exposure. I don't always refer to them this way.)

Joe was the first to audition. When he finished, we asked him how it went.

"Man," he said. "Just... Whatever."

The auditions were conducted in a large office shaped like a triangle filled with desks and lined with windows to the noisy street.

Technically it's better than a hole in the side of a cold mountain, but I could certainly think of spaces more conducive to a performance.

The room was adjusted such that I could only see the producer until after I walked all the way towards the back of the performing space and turned around. She sat behind a desk with her hands folded in front of her face [*], waiting expectantly.

"Hi, there. My name is Terry Torres, and I will be performing monologues from A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Random Caruso by Andrew Clarke."

I had to shave off the beginning of my Bottom monologue to make it short enough. This made it much harder to pace myself, and I ended up speeding through the whole thing without much verve.

This failure brought upon a self-loathing which I was able to channel into a pretty convincing rage for my Caruso monologue, which went much more smoothly.

"Thank you, Terry."

"Thank you," I said.

Only upon leaving the room did I realize that a monologue in which I accuse a man of being obsessed with pussy and then tell him to kill himself might not endear me to a producer trying to a cast a show intended for children.

Before I left I noticed a lot of promotional material for the Classics production.

This included photographs of actors performing in the Chamber Theatre's past productions. The great majority of them seemed to be more mature actors, ages ranging from their early 30s to early 60s.

I looked around the waiting room. There was not a soul over 25.

The Chamber Theatre held auditions in Boston before this one, and in New York City last month, as well.

Maybe their audition process has been continuously foiled by waves a of fresh-faced college grads taking up their time?

I guess it was silly to assume that a production company would cast college grads in a show about classic literature. Everyone knows classic literature's about old people.

5 headshots remain.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

#4. American Repertory Theatre

As part of its Shakespeare Exploded! series, A.R.T. is seeking performers for The Donkey Show - a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream through the great disco anthems of the 1970's, and all sorts of clever twists like double-casting all the lovers as women and swapping out Titania's train of fairy handmaidens with club dancers.

I am great at Photoshop

The Loeb Drama Center by Harvard Square. I saw Anna Deavere Smith perform Let Me Down Easy there. It's a great place, but more often than not it hosts the kind of theatre I can't afford on a regular basis.

My comrade Andres Solorzano sent me a message on Facebook with the subject: "lets be fairies."

His message attempted to persuade Joe Ruscio, Silas Lohrenz and I to audition for the roles of Titania's club dancers.

The audition required a monologue and a song, and would include a dance call.

"I really don't know if I can bring myself to sing in front of strangers again," Joe said. "It hurts everyone involved."

"It's not the fairies or the singing or the dancing which bothers me about this," Silas said. "It's the disco."

"If you're for reals about this," I said, "I will go to the 11 a.m. session."

"Yeah," said Andres. "Let's do it."

I was awakened by my alarm clock on the morning of the audition. Immediately, I went to my computer, opened the Donkey Show thread, and said:

Feet are coldest when you first wake up

And then I went back to sleep.

I woke up again two hours later, regretting my decision to blow off the audition.

Forget embarrassment and fatigue. How the hell do I expect to get cast if I can't even show up to auditions?

"I could make the 2 p.m. session if I left right now," I said out loud to no one.

So I gobbled some Cap'n Crunch, stuffed my track pants into my backpack and hopped on the train. I had my monologue set, and I figured I'd at least try to sing "All the Things You Are" a capella.

I was late. Five minutes. I know you're not supposed to be late for an audition, but that's how it happened.

I walked in on the director, the choreographer, and six ladies mid-dance step.

"Ah!" someone said. "The requisite man."

The choreographer ran through the routine again for my sake.

I guess I should mention that the last time I ever went to a dance call was when I auditioned for Grease in high school. Sure, I got the role of Kenickie back then, but Boston is a lot bigger than Northern Valley Regional High School.

Mostly, I was counting on my training at Emerson to grant me the muscle memory I'd need to rise to the occasion.

And, hey! I didn't screw up that much. And when I did, I acted natural. That's right: I acted naturally!

Then the director asked us to do a little dance and tell a joke. All I had was:

Two peanuts were walking down the street, and one was assaulted. Peanut.

After everyone told their stupid jokes, the director asked me if I had any experience as a DJ.

"Well," I said, "I've hosted a talk radio show."

"But no experience with mixing tables?"

I remember what Ken Cheeseman said about what to do when an auditioner asks about your skills: If they ask you if you know how to ride a horse, say Yes and then sign up for horseback riding lessons the next day.

Of course, you'd run the risk of looking a fool if they take you out to the nearest stable after that.

"No," I said.

"Well, we've got your information," he said. "We'll let you know."

Ah, yes. Of course you will.

I wished the ladies "Good day" and let myself out.

I was the only male to show up and they still had no use for me.

If only I could've recalled better joke.

Andres' plan was to go to this audition as a group, so we could each bolster the other's confidence.

In the end, I was the only one who went. Even with no training in song or dance. I guess I wasn't able to rouse the Latin heat slumbering within me.

Hey, wait a minute! They didn't ask me to sing, or to do my monologue! The two things I was actually looking forward to doing!

And you know? They're still having auditions. Even after two months of auditions, they still haven't filled all of the roles.

I should audition again. Maybe by now they'll have lowered their standards.

4 down. 6 to go.

6 headshots remain.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monologue: The Random Caruso by Andrew Clarke

I was first introduced to the work of Andrew Clarke by my comrade Jon Ryan, who cast me in his production of Breakfast With Harvey as a part of our directing course at Emerson College with Joe Antoun. It was a hoot and a half, and I knew that I had to put the furious rant from the climax of the play into my repertoire.

The next semester, I went to see a production of Andrew's new play, The Random Caruso, presented by Joe's company, Centastage.

I had no idea that Caruso was the completely realized extension of Breakfast With Harvey. Here I was seeing a brand new play, and I was able to recite the first 10 minutes worth of dialogue as it was occurring. I felt special, almost.

The rant that I had memorized was rewritten and relocated within the play - it was essentially brand new. Regardless, I'm sticking with the version from Breakfast With Harvey because I feel it stands more solidly on its own.

I have chosen to identify it with Caruso rather than Breakfast because I figure local auditioners have a better chance of recognizing a play that has actually premiered.

I did decide to stick in the line about the talking helicopter from Caruso, because it adds another six seconds to the total length of the monologue.

It's funny. I took Andrew's playwrighting course, and the dude hates monologues. I've never told him that I use one of his as audition material. If you're reading this, Andrew: thanks!

Look. Here is a script. To people like you a script is something malleable, something so fluid that it makes sense when the country priest becomes a talking helicopter. This is someone’s work. Their work. While creating this they endured self-doubt, vacant critical response, and despite it all they completed what they set out to do.

Now it is here, and we proceed according to dictate. Starting with an ugly fact: For reasons that defy any sense of fairness, you have been handed a role – the part of the rakish dissembler in Elizabeth’s court.

Now does that defy reason? Yes. Do you have any sense of history? No. Will you dive into the works of Marlowe? No. Will you even bother to read the entire God damned script? No. Of course not. What would be the fucking point?

Your concerns are water and air and fire and pussy.

And so they – the people we work for – they rely on chemical intervention and me. Which leads me to fix your tea. The same tea that is right here in front of you just as it is every morning.

There. There it is. Your motherfucking Twinings English breakfast tea with clotted Devon cream and three pounds of freshly ground Xanax. Drink it, you artless fucking cipher. Drink it down and die.