Sunday, March 21, 2010

#2. National Players

Some time ago, I found a post on my Facebook profile from my comrade Chelsea.

A LEAD! Fancy that! It was for touring productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Scarlet Letter. I called those fellows right quick to schedule an audition.

Here's a secret about me, guys: I have no formal training in classical performance. I mean, I don't think most people would count when I attended the Shakespeare Summer Arts Institute of Closter, New Jersey - even if it was under the direction of the woman who would eventually become my acting mentor, who was kind of a combination of Mister Miyagi and The Major from Ghost in the Shell. We'll revisit that Some Other Time.

Still I try, even with nothing to guide me but the memories of the performances of others, which surprisingly doesn't reveal the whole story. So I've decided to just tackle Shakespeare the same way I tackle any other material - by walking around in public and reciting it over and over until it means something, stops meaning something, and then means something again.

The audition was at the ivy-covered Boston University College of Fine Arts. I had rehearsed here before, about 8 months ago for SLAMBoston.

I came in and found one or two other actors standing outside of a performance space, waiting to audition. They were stretching and doing vocal exercises. Students, I presumed, because only students do Alexander and Linklater exercises outside of their audition... Though it did look rather freeing. I decided to roll down my spine and touch my inner sound.

Suddenly, a tap on my lower back! It was comrade Joe, who had just come out of his audition. The director had him do two monologues from Much Ado About Nothing and Blue... Blue... Blue something, I forget. Shift? Gender? Velvet? Help me out, Joe.

Apparently Joe also talked up Rough Week. 'Atta boy.

I paced around a little more, psychin' up, then Linklater girl came out and told me to go ahead on in.

I did Launce from Two Gentlemen of Verona. Now, it's a sweet monologue, but it's a lot of effort to tell the story of a man talking the blame for a dog who pissed on the floor of the dining room. I don't think I ever even had the chops for a it, but each time I try it I think, "Maybe this time!"

The dude was a nice guy. He gave me a very solid direction, and I did what I could with it. But by then I had worked it over and over again all the way to the audition, and I was... just... stuck.

I only did the one monologue. I was in and out pretty quick.

8 headshots remain.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#1.5 Irrational Games

It came to me through one of my elaborate chains of communication that Irrational Games, creators of the Bioshock video games, were looking for voice actors for their upcoming project. Would my lifelong dream of helping to make a video game finally see fruition?

I trekked into the deepest jungles of Quincy, and on my way to their offices I ran into fellow actor Jon Ryan (the Marty to my Harry) who could not find their damn office. From afar, fellow actor Scarlett Redmond (the one who was cast in Stop Kiss) called out to us and said OVER HERE and pointed at the correct address.

She then told us that the audition was fun and that everyone at Irrational Games was very nice.

We went up to their office and rang their door bell, which was not a bell at all but actually the sound of a dog barking. "I like these guys more and more," said Jon.

We stepped in and were handed a release form and, since it was an under-wraps project, a nondisclosure form.

I've never signed a nondisclosure form before. I didn't think that I had learned anything that I even could disclose.

Which leads to believe that I am legally obligated to keep my mouth shut about what little I did see.

So, uh... I guess I could at least tell you that:

I shook hands with Ken Levine, writer-designer of Bioshock.

Part of the audition involved singing Happy Birthday.

And I got the guy at reception to take this picture for me!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#1. Imaginary Beasts

I never thought I'd be so interested in the work of Moliére, but a production of two of his plays entitled "Moliére Squared"? How could I not be intrigued?!

I got off of the Orange Line at Ruggles Station, crossed the street and looked out. "So this is Northeastern University," I said aloud to no one.

I followed the path down past some shiny glass buildings, realized I went too far, popped into a convenience store for directions, then headed back to Shillman Hall.

I'm trying to get into the habit of having at least one picture for every post. So, here: here's Shillman Hall.

Now that THAT'S out of the way...

The check-in table was at the end of a hallway on the third floor. As I was filling in my form, the director poked his head out of a lecture room to one side and said I could come in whenever I was ready.

"I was BORN ready!" I replied. Except I didn't; I just wish I had.

When I went in, he gave me the skinny. He'd listen to my monologue to get an idea of what I'm all about, then he'd give me two scenes to work on - he was more concerned with seeing how I play.

OH, I thought. I expected to hop in and hop out of this audition - I didn't expect to actually be engaged!

After I did my Misanthrope monologue, he gave me two scenes: one from George Dandin, and another from Amphitryon (where I read for Mercury, how cool is THAT?)

I then withdrew to another room with a Imaginary Beasts company member, who prob'ly had more good ideas in her than I did. We worked on (or should I say PLAYED WITH?!) the two scenes for a bit, and we went back in with them. I was... all right.

Mr. Director then let me know what a huge turnout they had gotten for this production, and that he'd have a lot of hard work ahead of him when it came to casting.

BUT, he told me, he wanted to keep me in mind for future projects. Maybe he tells every actor that.

And then he hoped that I would be kind to him on my headshot blog.


Oh, I probably taped the wrong resume to the back of my headshot.

9 headshots remain.

ALERT! 3 x 10 Headshots!

These past 10 headshots have proven to be just as fruitful as the first.

I was cast exactly once for the first 10, and I was cast exactly once for the second 10. Both times for unpaid 10-minute play festivals.

Things can only improve for the next ten!

For this batch, my photographer threw in prints of another photo we had taken in that same session.

I dunno. I'm not CRAZY about it. My eyes are pretty vacant. And that's not my jacket. But we'll see what Boston thinks!

Monday, March 1, 2010

#10. Zeitgeist Stage

A production of Farragut North, a pretty new play loosely based on the playwright's experience working on the Howard Dean's 2004 primary campaign.

Several of my accomplices and I have been excited by this one for a while, because it's a great script and two of the roles are white males in our age range - the main character being one.

"ONE of us has gotta get this," we've been saying. "We're gonna ROCK this."

I arrived at the BCA Plaza Theatre in good spirits. The last time I auditioned there was my first success on this blog.

The stage manager greeted me with great verve, and I filled out the audition form. I marked that I wished to be considered for two characters: Stephen, the lead, and Ben, who is not the lead.

She pointed to another fellow, Nate. I would be reading for Stephen and he would read for Ben. This instantly struck me as a poor idea, as Stephen was the older character, and I was visibly younger than Nate (no offense to Nate).

We read through our scene a few times. And, frankly, I could not tap into the aggressive campaign manager that Stephen was supposed to be. So I suggested that we read through again, but with the roles switched.

Of course, I was able to find a lot more juice in the role of the meeker Ben, and Nate made for a much prouder and robust Stephen. It made perfect sense.

But then - and I'm thinking back on this, and I don't know why it happened - we agreed to switch the roles back.

We were then called in to do a tepid reading in front of the director in the black box theater. He said Thank You politely.

We came out expecting to be handed another side. Instead, we were bid good night.

We looked at each other, shrugged, and took off.

No headshots remain...?