Thursday, November 11, 2010

Auditions, Act 2

It was a single-night audition. Basically, a young local man has written a play about Relationships, and I landed the role of the 40-year-old woman. The jaded, bitter divorced attorney 40-year-old woman. Yes, I am once again playing a cliche. So there are no performance dates yet, because they are hoping for "backers," so we are reading for "potential financiers" next week.

Trust me, this all sounds way more weighty than it is. The script is not, in my opinion, in a final form. I know it's hard to write a play, and lord knows I've never written one, but really, when the only women in the play are competing for the same man, your Inner Feminist heaves a great, big annoyed (and bored) sigh.

So last Saturday the cast met in the playwright's Streeterville apartment just behind Watertower Place. Think Chicago's equivalent of Central Park West. There was a doorman. I mean a literal doorman whose job it was to open the door.

I am never comfortable with this arrangement.

The playwright, "Alex," had baked muffins and had plates of pastries, and offered us coffee and tea and orange juice laid out in a large dining room.  He gave us a tour, and I asked him to pause in the kitchen so that I could make out with his butler-pantry cabinets. We glided over walnut-stained hardwood floors to the living room (yes, Virginia, there was a fireplace), and I looked through the full-length windows over the Juliet balcony at my sad car being bullied by an Audi.

The French boyfriend, Mark, was asleep in the bedroom. Of course.

The group consisted of playwright Alex, the director, "Ned;" "Tracy," the Stage Manager; "Cassie,
 the female lead; "Jack," the male lead; "Josh" in the supporting role of Gay Best Friend to the female lead; and "Sarah," airhead girlfriend to Jack. I play Jack lifelong best friend, Jane, who is also in love with him. Jack is supposed to be my age. The actor playing him is barely 30, but I think he'll be able to pull it off. I have to cringe through lines about 40-year-olds being old.

The other actors are all in their 20s. The female lead is in college, studying theater.  Jack is understudying with Chicago Shakespeare and is fairly solid; Sarah is very good as the bimbo, and I think I've got Jane down.

The female lead, however, is awful. Just awful.

It could possibly be the reading thing again. I am not exaggerating when I say that the number of people I meet who cannot read is starting to really enrage me. When you are a senior in college, there is just no excuse for this. None.

"I spoke to Jack-eese," said Sarah.

This was how she read "Jacques" before finally being corrected.

Other terms that held up our collective brain trust included "indebted" and "Le Monsieur." At one point the female lead struggled mightily with a word before I blurted, "the word is ENEMA."

I want to add that they were all extremely nice, and you can invite me to your place any time to read your script when you feed me like that.

After we read it, the director asked whether we had any questions or comments. I looked around the table, watching people watch each other. I figured I'd take the lead.

"I don't understand why they don't end up together. I mean, it's refreshing that they don't, but I don't feel like I'm really given a reason to believe it."

My questions elicited a chorus of agreement, and we all began discussing the play. We had some good comments, and the playwright took notes. I managed to suggest that the relationship between my character and the lead be less nasty, that there were some great opportunities to let the audience in on what made them tick, and the other cast members agreed.

At one point, caught up in the discussion, I looked at Alex's face.

"Hold it," I said. "we're all excited about this, and we're all giving you lots of feedback, but I want you to know that you have a good basic work here, and it may feel like we're picking it apart, but we're just enthusiastic."

The thing is, it's hard to write about relationships without falling into cliche. And I don't know, maybe a gay man should write what he knows, and women, well, women who date men aren't it.

So we read the show for our potential financiers next Monday. I'm amused. Frankly, I don't know when the show will go up, and if I'll be around when it does, but I have a pretty small part and it's something to do.

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