Monday, June 28, 2010

#6 & #7. Shakespeare Now: Julius Caesar

Rough Week cohort Chelsea Schmidt was sitting at the check-in table at Boston Playwrights' Theatre. Indeed, she had volunteered for that position.

I reminisced upon the many auditions I've had at BPT. As a matter of fact, I auditioned for Shakespeare Now a year ago in this same place, not too long after I started this cockamamie blog.

It was then that I realized that I would be auditioning with my Romeo monologue, the same monologue I auditioned with back then.

Before I could consider how this reflected on my abilities as an artist, it was my turn. The two auditors were very nice, and asked me all about Emerson College and all the nice things they just got that I didn't get a chance to use before I graduated.

I had been alternately bored and excited by Romeo. He meanders in with some romantic imagery which is pretty typical of the most recognizable Shakespearean lover, and you're just kinda like, "Okay." But only later do you see it's REALLY all to illustrate to the Friar how fucked up his situation is.

That switch was so juicy to me that I suddenly felt my blood getting hot, and I raised my voice and focused my intentions and did all that acting shit.

It felt good, but all I might've done was illustrate the difference between my being bored and my trying my best. When, really, I should've been doing my best the whole time.

The woman who was waiting her turn when I came out was impressed with my voice, though - or at least what she heard from the lobby.

4 headshots remain.

P.S. I also met the Boston Playwrights' dog once again. I can't tell if he liked me or not. We met once before, I think during SLAMBoston, but I forget his name. How embarrassing!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#5.5 ASP Callback

Actors' Shakespeare Project called me back for the ensemble in Henry IV. I had missed their audition nearly a month ago because I thought it was in a location other than it actually was. They must have called me back because of my StageSource audition, which didn't make sense to me - I had not performed a classical monologue, and had gone over the time limit. I love Shakespeare, but I hadn't given any indication that I'd been formally trained to perform it. Why was it they wanted to call me back?

Hey, you know what we've never taken a look at? My resume.

My resume always feels like an afterthought in the audition process, but when directors and such only get to see you for 2 minutes it must be invaluable for filling in the blanks when your face and your chosen material aren't enough to paint the whole picture of you as an artist.

Still, what in particular made me worth exploring? Was it the only three Shakespearean credits I had? True, The Shakespeare Society was the only group producing any of Bill's work at Emerson College, but they had no way of knowing that, did they? Just as they had no way of knowing that the Shakespeare Summer Arts Institute was run out of a house in suburban North Jersey.

It could be that they trusted my Emerson education. I know that many alumni and professors alike have been involved in ASP productions. And if casting can be decided by pedigree and specialized knowledge, then I was pretty sure which shard of information would've been most intriguing.

Callbacks were at Central Square Theater. It's a real nice place, but I'm embarrassed to say that I've only ever seen one production there - a show based on the dreams of a pregnant woman, which had its moments. I'm blanking on the name.

When it was my turn, I was greeted in the theater by Allyn, who introduced me to Patrick the director. I dusted off Romeo, which I hadn't used for an audition in a very long time. And then, in accordance with the email requesting "a short ditty" to go with my monologue, I sang Brazil. My voice felt hollow when it came out, but I kept a smile on my face to spite my vibrato.

Allyn asked me about my stage combat experience. I KNEW IT, I thought, and told him all about Ted Hewlett, rapiers, broadswords and quarter-staffs.

My legs were aching when I left. Had my knees been shaking? I didn't realize how nervous I was! I wanted to work with these guys more than I thought.

This was the first callback to come from my StageSource audition. Will it be the last? Beats me!

5 headshots still remain.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#X. StageSource

A number of producers from many companies in the Boston area attend StageSource's auditions. A few actors are contacted for roles immediately, some are considered much later down the line. Many others are cast aside. For a young actor in Boston, it's the biggest opportunity of the year to appear in a stage production. I had registered for my position in the auditions months before.

Only the night before - while taping resumes to the back of the 50 headshots I would be submitting to StageSource, and also while getting ready for the Rough Week fundraiser which would also be the next day - I decided to look up specifics on what the audition required.

They requested two contrasting pieces. I figured that much. What I didn't quite realize was that each actor only got two minutes to audition.

Two pieces in two minutes. An average of a minute per piece.

This was mind-boggling to me. It's hard enough to find two monologues that are 1) good, 2) appropriate for your type and 3) representative of your acting range in combination with other monologues, but they had to be under a minute as well? That's no time at all to get into and out of a character!

I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's certainly God damn bothersome, especially for someone like me who doesn't like to be rushed. I simply didn't have any monologues that short, and cutting my longer material was out of the question - I had already cut them all with great exactitude and taste. Starting a sentence late or ending a sentence early would disrupt the emotional rhythm.

What I finally decided to do on the train ride over was to simply remove any and all pauses or instances of hesitation and internalize every new objective as I arrived at it. Basically, I talked real fast. It was quite an exercise in itself. I had to be deft and deliberate in my delivery.

I timed myself by my watch. Each monologue (I chose Red Light Winter and Candy Factory) ran about 2 minutes at the start, but I was able to get them down to about 1 minutes and 15 seconds each at their best. I'd be sure to take advantage of whatever leeway the stage manager would give me.

Only once I sat down in the hallway outside of Boston Playwrights' Theatre listening to the other actors audition through the wall did I accept that fact: I was going to be timed out.

And I was, four sentences before the end of my Candy Factory monologue. I smiled, said Thank You and returned the chair I was sitting in to upstage right before taking my leave.

I had brought 50 headshots, and only 45 were requested. 5 more were returned to me, either by producers who already had my headshot or didn't want it.

5 headshots remain.

10 headshots in reserve.