It was weird. I hadn’t written this one. You see, most staged readings I’ve done I have also written, so…
But Stephanie emailed me and told me about the part. It was irresistible. A bitter writer who’d lost his wife… it sounded so familiar…
I haven’t been to an audition in quite a while. A lot of the reason why had to do with my immense girth… I mean my stomach… but there was something else. I was afraid. Too long had past. I was scared.
Which is exactly why I went. (And the fact that a staged reading provides more “fuck-up insurance” but we won’t go there.)
I wanted to look as thin as possible and finally found some clothes to wear that made me look… not entirely… Blubbery. It was all denim so I looked like an inmate – but I looked like a not quite so fat inmate, dammit!!!!
The beautiful thing about the theater is that it’s so close to our house. I could get there and get rejected in lightening speed.
I got the side (a side is a few pages of the script, which you read for the audition) and started reading. It started with a psychiatrist trying to opening up the lead character, Jeremy (the partI was auditioning for!). When she pesters him with “What’s on your mind” kinds of questions, he asks, “Why do you think they call it mayonnaise?” So, he’s a smart-ass. I could grok that.
Two people were reading beside me. (I didn’t have someone to team up with, dammit!) The person reading the shrink’s part kept stumbling over her words. The guy auditioning for Jeremy gave his angriest, Kirk Douglas kind of read. “Why do you think they call it MAYONNAISE?”
Either he’d be laughed to the street or he’d get the part.
I was called in first, so I didn’t get to see.
The director recognized me from my headshot – a good litmus test as to how recent your headshot is! As we went back, he gave typical director babble: “So glad you could make it. Hope it wasn’t too hard to find. Insert witty comment here.”
The theater was small…. teeeeeeny small! That was fine. Fewer people meant less embarrassment should I get the part. But it was really small. I was almost claustrophobic!
I met the producer, who was oblivious, and the playwright. Poor fella. I’ve been there. It ain’t pretty. Self important actors come in and mangle your work… and now, it was my turn.
As the director and producer talked (they love to do that), the writer asked, “Did you have any questions about the character or what he’s going through?”
I replied, “No, I’m pretty familiar with the situation. I lost my wife a few years back.”
The writer gasped. “I’m so sorry!”
Mind you, I didn’t mention that Rosa didn’t die but, hell, I’ll use it if it’ll score me points! I downplayed my mourning (snicker snicker), “It’s okay.”
And, then, we read.
But the stage bugged me. It was so small! Maybe I was just nervous because it had been so long but I could feel my heart beating. I stammered. My throat was dry.
When we were done, I knew I’d done a good job because the director gave me some direction. Usually, they’ll be happy to give losers the boot. He said, “That was excellent. Now, try to read it as though you were nervous. As though you were in an uncomfortable situation. As though you were afraid of screwing up.”
… Excuse me?
At first, I thought he was being sarcastic… Nope.
Anyway, I should get a call one way or the other tomorrow and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be back on stage – albeit in just a lowly staged reading – next month…