Tuesday, February 28, 2006

There stands the actor who is me...

How long have I been saying it? "I’m going to act again." It's usually followed by a list of projects I have to get done first. For instance, "I'm going to act again just as soon as I get With Eyes To See sold and start selling No More Blue Roses and start writing Wormfood. I will. Honestly."

For two years, I've been saying this. Sure, I've finished a lot of other projects but I've been ignoring my acting for some time.

So, last night, I decided to get off my rump (both literal and metaphoric) and go audition - for something! Anything! I went to the Huntington Beach Playhouse to audition for Moon Over Buffalo. (For those of you who haven't heard of it, all you need to know is that it starred Carol Burnett on Broadway. You gotta love that!)

The first thing that happened was good. I ran into Bob Purcell, one of my friends from my last play, Something to Hide. He was auditioning, too. The first bad thing I realized shortly thereafter: we were both auditioning for the same part.

He realized it, too.

And he became visibly nervous. Nice of him to do that.

But what he didn't know was that I didn't care if I got cast or not - it wasn't that kind of audition. I just wanted to get some practice in, since it had been so long since my last one. (You don't wanna know how long!)

We didn't get a chance to catch up with one another, though. Within minutes of my arrival, the director's assistant (a pudgy, young man with far too much enthusiasm) called us all into the room where the auditions are normally held. Normally, the director calls in groups at a time - here was the twist, we'd all sit in there. Within seconds, the room became dank and stuffy from too many people and their damp clothes. (It was raining outside.)

Soon, though, the director looked up from whatever he was doing and began to speak... and I began to get a bad feeling. He was doddery... he wasn't just old. He was a lame gazelle, ready for the hyenas. Truth be told, I got a bad feeling about him the minute I walked in.

He called us all up in teams, to audition for the whole group. I was called up almost immediately, to audition for George Hay. The audition notice had put him between the ages of 40 and 55. Being 40, I knew that meant I stood a snowflakes chance, but, again, the practice is what I needed.

He called, "Ken La - La - Salle?"

I walked up to him. "Hello," I said.

"You're Ken La Salle?" he asked.


"You're auditioning for George?" His incredulity was more entertaining that some shows I've seen.

I smiled. "Yep."

He looked around, announced, "I think I'd like to suggest to anyone in general who might be auditioning for the part of George that you might want to consider other roles as well."

Okay, old timer. I got the point.

And if that hadn't done it, the all over-50 group of possible leading ladies would have!

I read two, different scenes. How did I do? Well, I wasn't impressed, though I rarely am. Compared to the others, however... oh my god.

I'd forgotten that local theaters can attract some rather... shitty... crappy... well, you know.

One guy of no more than 18 thought that running from one side of the room to the other was the way to impress the director. Another, even younger and the side of a bus, tried to affect a Woody Allen impersonation... it hurt.

But the director didn't notice them.

In fact, I turned my attention from the bad actors to the bad director. And he was - he was a bad director, the way you might say a dog is a bad dog. He didn't just not notice the actors, he wasn't even looking at them. He alternated between talking with his assistant and reading something. This is one of the hallmarks of a bad director, the kind who pays no attention to their actors. They usually have their own ideas of what they want and, rather than finding it in the actor, they just make the actor do it. He was even telling one young man to sound like David Hyde Pierce (who, sadly, the guy hadn't heard of) - line readings at an audition.

Okay, I was nearly done. Bob Purcell was doing a fantastic job and I had never meant to give him competition. I slinked back to the door. He looked at me. I gave him a mock salute, which he returned. Then, I pointed to him and gave him a thumbs-up. The director didn't notice us. I don't think he would have had we yelled.

Time for another audition.

1 comment:

BobP said...

Hey Ken, Just stumbled acros this when I was searching Blog about HBPH. Nice of you to mention me :-)

Remember that old saying - not to judge a book by it cover? The director of this show is such a person. Sort of a cross between Zen-like and Yoda! Anyway, the show is going well and I hope that you and Vicky get to see it.