Sunday, March 4, 2012

My current acting career: 90-second performance art

The audition notice said that they were looking for people to do stage readings of submissions for a weekend of gay plays.

"AHA!" I shouted at my computer screen.

If you were to picture me, think of a five-foot tall Ellen Degeneres-meets-Edie Falco. Only I don't wear much makeup, usually. I'm also approaching middle age and I'm never seen with a boy, so despite the fact I have somewhat whimsical style that leans towards the girly, I'm frequently assumed to be a lesbian. I suspect that this, plus my small stature and age, has hampered my ability to be cast.

But now? I couldn't lose.

So I got a slot and showed up at a theater building at DePaul University. After suffering the college theater majors guarding the entrance, I finally found the audition room. I was looking forward to the first audition in years where I wouldn't worry about my hair being  a problem.

I stepped into a very narrow room with long tables along one side. About seven men of all ages sat at the tables.

I wondered why there were no women; this fact annoyed me. It annoyed me a lot.

So I did my monologue. I did it well, despite being less than ten feet from the nearest person, and having all those eyes on  me. Most of auditioning is psychological. I had to do it a lot to get to the point where I can just do it without being too nervous. Some nerves are important to have an edge, of course, but you don't want too much distraction. One guy in his fifties sat with a smirk on his face. Nice. Other than that, there were murmurs of approval, and I left. I never heard anything after that.

I saw Kevin's show, the same one I'd auditioned for but wasn't cast in (seeing it, I saw there really wasn't a part for me). The producer said hi and asked whether I was going to audition for their next show, a comedy. I explained I'd gotten the audition notice but was tired of preparing and making the time to audition just to get the "We really liked you but cant' offer you a part at this time" email.  He assured me that not getting cast wasn'T a sign that someone was bad, just not right for the show.

"I know that," I said, "but over a year of auditions and nothing? Really? I don't think it's my ability; I think it's the directors and the inability to cast women my age and appearance in any meaningful role. I'm not having a temper tantrum; I'm just tired of wasting the effort on something that used to be a fun hobby but now seems impossible to realize."

He encouraged me anyway. So I did. I auditioned. I prepared a comedic monologue, I performed it, the director laughed, and  I didn't get cast.

There's a really excellent thing about this, though. The excellent thing is that there was a time when I would have sunk into depression at the notion that I was worthless and untalented. Now, my perspective is simply that my talent is wasted on these bumpkins. This belief in myself has come slowly over time, but I think it's the biggest gift that moving to Chicago has given me.


karen said...

Brilliant. I mean, bummer about not being cast, but really, getting that idea that it is THEM and not YOU is essential to moving on. You audition, you don't audition, whatever. But not hating the whole process, not taking it to heart, I'm all about that right now. It may be what is making me write anything at all. Which is big. Because before last year I had lots of ideas but couldn't get pen to paper. This year? I. Can't. Stop. and I sort of don't care who gets it.

Er, do you get it?!

JC said...

I sure do. :-)