Thursday, August 11, 2011

#5.75. Theatre On Fire: Mojo

Well, it's been over three months since my last stage audition, and the second anniversary of 10 Headshots has already come and gone.

And I've been thinking about making some changes. I'm getting a new headshot and I'm on the lookout for new monologues.

This audition came up just before I had gotten through doing either. I've wanted to act with Theatre on Fire since I've first seen their stuff, and MOJO has a cast made up of a lot of males in their twenties - who knows when that opportunity'll come by again.

I found out about the audition slightly less than two days prior. I needed a comedic monologue, and it had to be delivered in a working-class British accent.

The first thing I set out to do was to find a new monologue. Pal Joey forwarded me a copy of The Hotel Nepenthe by local playwright John Kuntz. I looked for a good scene I remembered from having seen it, printed it out, and went to work.

Now that I had a monologue, I needed an accent.

I feel that speaking in a dialect is closer to impersonation than acting, and impersonation is something I've always been uncomfortable with - it feels like the energy it requires comes from a completely different part of the brain than playing a character from scratch does. You don't need to be an actor to do an accent, you just need a good ear and an obedient mouth. I don't know which of my parts is to blame, but accents have always wrecked me.

And everybody's got a fucking opinion when it comes to accents. No one's going to give a shit about your presence or timing if they think your accent sucks.

I didn't take the super-popular Dialects course at Emerson College because it wasn't offered the semester I had hoped to take it. But I do have a CD on British dialect that I borrowed from my old roommate a ways back. So I alternated between memorizing the Nepenthe monologue and practicing my British vowels.

PROTIP: Take regular, American vowels and then move the corners of your mouth forward. Now they're British!

The next day, while I was out running errands, I went to my favorite spot in the city to practice monologues, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Flagstaff Hill in the Commons.

And as I sat on one of the granite benches doing my monologue in my best accent, I realized it wasn't clicking. It just didn't feel good. Nothing against the rather excellent Hotel Nepenthe - I had merely jumped the gun in desperation and chose a monologue I was not in love with.

So I came home and put together my own monologue from Portal 2. On my way home I thought about using Cave Johnson material, but J.K. Simmons is too much to live up to. And then I remembered that Wheatley is already British!

So at the old Calderwood Pavilion I met Tim, who I work with for The Freedom Trail - we're both Redcoats in the King's Guard at Quincy Market on weekends. He was there to audition, too, and joked, saying it was a good thing that we have a place to practice our British accents every week. Well, I have a place to butcher mine, anyway.

The audition was attended by Darren the director, and Craig, who had played Blackadder in Darren's production of Blackadder II Live! I forgot to wear my contacts, so I took off my glasses and placed them on the chair behind me to do my monologue.

Darren said it was funny. Craig said he my accent was good, but it seemed rather... light.

And then there was a pause that I assumed I was supposed to fill with an explanation for my lightness other than, "Well, that's because I blow!"

Oh, and I forgot to give 'em my headshot.

Even still, 5 headshots remain.

Monologue: Wheatley from Portal 2

Yeah, this is definitely my most out-there monologue. It's not the first monologue from a video game I've considered using, but it is the first that I have actually used in an audition.

I came up with this in a mad fit, and pieced it together from two big quotes delivered early on in the game. I found them in this Portal 2 text dump compiled by GameFAQs user oblivion from aoc. Thanks, man.

I added two lines of my own; one to serve as a transition and another to serve as a more sympathetic conclusion. The original conclusion is funnier, but a little too alienating for an audition.

Never be afraid to make alterations to a monologue, especially from materials other than plays. When it comes to auditions, you're the star, not the writer.

Also, Portal 2 was written by four writers, so when asked who was the author for the monologue, I just chose Marc Laidlaw, who has the most credits of all of them.

Most test subjects do experience some cognitive deterioration after a few months in suspension. Now you've been under for... quite a lot longer, and it's not out of the question that you might have a very minor case of serious brain damage. But don't be alarmed, alright? Because ah... well, actually, if you DO feel alarmed, hold onto that. Because the feeling of alarm is the proper reaction to being told you've got massive brain damage. So if you are alarmed, then it suggests the damage is not as serious as we thought. Although it probably is really serious.

I'm really sorry about all this. The reserve power ran out, so of course the whole relaxation center stops waking up the bloody test subjects. And of course nobody tells ME anything. Noooo. Why should they tell me anything? Why should I be kept informed about the life functions of the ten thousand bloody test subjects I'm supposed to be in charge of? And whose fault do you think it's going to be when the management comes down here and finds ten thousand flipping vegetables? How are you? How you feeling? Wait. Don't answer that. Too much deep relaxation, what it does is it relaxes the gums. And the vibrations from talking -- on a rare occasion -- can make all of your teeth fall out of your head.

So just... nod if you're alright.