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.

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