Monday, November 15, 2010

The Callback

On Saturday I went to the callback for the classical play in which I was up for the role of the queen, who is a sort of Lady Macbeth character, only more unbalanced.

The callback was for the entire cast, and as there were roles for three young woman and numerous soldiers, and since people seem incapable of picturing seasoned warriors as being older than 28, it looked like a 4th-year college reunion.

On the bright side, this made spotting the women up for the queen (Isabel) role much easier. I sat in a large, bright empty room where folding chairs had been set up around the perimeter, and gazed around the circle of people, checking out the other  Isabel-wannabes.  Uh-huh... uh-huh... uh-huh....


At three-o'clock sat a very tall, statuesque dark-skinned African-american woman with a nearly shaved head. She was called in to do the Isabel scene, and as she rose from her seat, her perfectly-fitted clothing clung to a very well-muscled body of impossible perfection.

Basically, I was up against Grace Jones.

The room where they did scenes was right off of the waiting room, and one could hear the voices coming through. Although they were a bit muffled, I could still tell that her voice was rich and strong.

And there was when any illusion that I could be intense enough to overcome the fact that I'm five feet tall with a rather high voice went right out the window.

They had her read a number of times with a number of people. I was the final Isabel, and when assigned the other people with whom I'd read, I went into the kitchen with three young men and practiced.

I was feeling a bit dispirited at this point. I'd been there for two hours and hadn't read once, and had watched very pretty boys chat with very pretty girls, and been generally ignored. Had this been 20 years ago, I would have had a complete internal breakdown; ten years ago, I'd have felt completely defeated.  I also would have been undone by the huge nervous-sweat  pit stains on my poorly chosen gray top, but instead I told myself it lent character. I thought, "you are all younger and prettier than I, but I will bring it, and even if I don't get cast, I will read the hell out of this scene, and that will be my victory."

And I think I did. We went in, I did the scene, I got some direction, re-read the scene accordingly, and that was all. I left with a certainty that I didn't get the part, but I hope to God the Black Chick did, because she was impressive. Sometimes you're right for the part; sometimes someone else is more right. That's the way it goes.

On the bright side, the showcase that I was cast in is beautifully written, and they have given me another scene to be in because they hadn't cast one of the parts yet,  and the director for that scene liked me in it when I stood in for it. In addition, the writer added a follow-up scene that I really like, so now I'm in four scenes in the show, including two two-person scenes. And the people in the show are really nice. I'm pleased. I don't know how much attention the show will get, but I anticipate a good experience.


karen said...

Funny how age is this weird, bittersweet, but ultimately fantastic reward for all of the time we spend not knowing if we are "good enough". Just knowing, most of the time, that it is the moment that counts, gets me past what would have been disappointments in the past. I love it that I know exactly what you mean when you say that you knew you how you were going to handle that audition.

In that sense, I can't wait until my life changes and gives me the room to audition again -- those are going to be the performances of my life, and I just know I will get the things I am meant to have because I will bring myself to the game. Unlike when *I* was 20. I dread bringing my girls through that age (or, more, witnessing them through it ...)

karen said...

Oh, and I hope the black goddess got the part too!

JC said...

Amen, sister. I feel like I am a much better actress now than I was before, ironically because I'm less self-conscious, less aware of people watching me.

I'm also less needy. I didn't mention that after waiting 2 hours to read a scene that has 3 men in it besides me, I finally got my shot The other guys were young men who;d been reading the scenes with the other Isabels, and I guess they were bored, because during the scene, I had to keep re-starting a line because they decided to cut up, and the director et. al. kept laughing at them. I may as well have been invisible.

So when I got the "we were impressed, the decision was a hard one, blah blah blah" email, I thought it over and replied, "well, since I had to re-start a line 3 times because everyone was laughing at the bored guys in my scene who kept goofing off, I didn't think I was grabbing anyone's attention, so no surprises there." I thanked them for the opportunity, etc. but I made it clear they were pretty rude. There is no excuse for that.

I would never have done that before, but I'm not taking this crap from overly self-important theater jerks any more.