Lightning = Death

I love me a good summer storm. Thunder, lightning, the darkening sky, the heavy air- I love all of it. I’m the person who can’t wait to see if the power will go out and hopes it will because a night or two doing things by candlelight is an exciting prospect to me. And there are few things I like better than being able to watch the storm while I’m lying in bed at night, windows open to smell the rain-soaked air.

Until I moved here, that is. All of the above is still present within me, but there’s one added reaction: fear. That would be because a few days after I moved in, my landlord stopped by my room and said, “I just wanted to let you know that I had this room for a few year and, not to freak you out or anything, but the lightning sometimes comes into the house. I think it has something to do with all the water around it…”

THE LIGHTNING SOMETIMES COMES INTO THE HOUSE?!

Now, it’s true that we have a pool in the backyard, probably about ten feet from the first floor window. I’m on the second floor, not the first, but my landlord told me how once she was in bed during a summer storm and the lightning came in through the window and spidered out all over the walls and ceiling. And while I love lightning, I love it from a distance.

Because of this, I’ve been asked to close both windows in my room during a storm, as well as any of the others, if I’m here alone. We’ve been having quite a few storms of late, so if the forecast predicts one, I close all of the windows before I go to wherever I’m going that day. Yes, stuffy rooms suck, but burnt-down houses suck more.

Wednesday night (or rather, Thursday morning), I went to be around 2 a.m. At four, I woke to a huge crash of thunder outside my windows. My open windows. The sky lit up with crazy lightning. And though I was only half-awake, my brain sprung into action. “LIGHTNING!” it alerted my slower-moving body. “LIGHTNING! DEATH! IT HAS COME!”

Still mostly asleep, I jumped out of bed and closed not only my two windows, but the one in the hallway, which is on the same side as the Pool of Death. Of course, when I say “I closed the windows,” it takes a lot longer than the statement suggests. One of my windows, the one facing the driveway, is a stubborn little bugger that won’t stay up unless it’s held in place by a rain stick (it doesn’t demand a rain stick, particularly, or anything, but that’s what has been chosen.) In order to open or close it, I have to clear a space for me to prop one elbow so that it can be held in place while I remove or insert the prop. But it’s the window on the pool side that’s worse. It tends to swell when shut and stick in general when open, and in order to get it out of either position, I have to again clear a space and climb onto the windowsill. This task seems perfectly fine until you realize that you’re pretty much asking to be struck dead by kneeling in the sill directly in front of (and, okay, a story above) the pool. And of course, the window wouldn’t freaking move, so I’m slamming down on it with my palms, the whole time going, “oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” and flinching every time lightning streaked through the sky. Remember that all of this is happening at four a.m.

When I finally got all three windows closed, I tried to go back to bed, but something was keeping me from falling asleep: fourth grade science class. Or rather, the thing I couldn’t remember from fourth grade science class: was glass a good conductor or a bad conductor? Because if it was a bad conductor, I was a-okay. But if it were a good one… well, my bed is metal framed and basically, I was dead since it’s right in front of the window. And so it was that, until I fell asleep, I would alternately stretch out (making sure my feet weren’t touching the metal foot of the bed) and yank myself into the fetal position when I saw lightning again.

Oh, lightning. One day, we will again live in harmony. But not if you’re going to kill me.

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Theatre Fixes Things

I truly believe in the power of theatre, for both the audience and the actors. While I like acting because it is the most fun work I’ve ever done and I feel as though I’ve accomplished something after a show, I also do it because it’s an escape. As you’ve no doubt deduced, I’m a rather shy person, but playing a character erases that for a few hours. Then there are the times where I come into rehearsal in a terrible mood that is eradicated as soon as I step onstage. Physical and emotional trials are left at the skirtlight in acting, and it’s marvelous. I also know a good number of people who have been pulled back from the edge of hopelessness by participating in theatre, so to me, the declaration that theatre saves lives is no exaggeration.

Lately, I’ve been missing being in a show terribly. I pine for the stage and can’t wait until I’m finally cast in something (God, please let it be soon..) But if I can’t be onstage, I might as well go see something onstage, especially if it means supporting my friends. So tonight, I went to go see one of my college friends in a performance in the city.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will tell you that even though I’m definitely a lot better on the grief front since I last wrote about it, I’m still working through it. That, combined with general “holy-crap-I’m-on-my-own” stuff, is still leaving me an emotional wreck pretty regularly. Before I graduated, save for once, panic attacks were something I only experienced as a reaction to someone’s death, and they happened very rarely.This past month or so, though, has seen me experiencing full-fledged panic attacks a few times and on the edge of one pretty frequently.

I don’t say this to be dramatic or to get attention. It’s something I’m going through and I don’t know why, but it’s really super scary. People deal with these sorts of things all the time, for their whole lives, and I’ve been lucky enough, up until this point, to not be one of them. Now, though… I’m really freaked out. I pulled myself out of a panic attack when I went home on Tuesday night, and though I haven’t been that close to one since, I’ve had this feeling in my chest all day today, like I’m drowning but also that my heart is on fire. That’s the only way I can think to describe it. It was to the point today where I nearly didn’t go to the show because I was afraid that I’d have an attack on the train or in the theatre.

But I went, and sitting in my seat before the show, I was very worried. But then the show started, and about three-quarters of the way through, when I suddenly remembered that I wasn’t actually in the world that was onstage, I realized that I hadn’t felt panicked or physically uncomfortable for over an hour as the show was going on. Transported by the show, I was calm and able to enjoy the performance completely. The magic of theatre had cured me of all of my ills.

Now the feeling is back, beginning on the train home. I would very much like a show to disappear into so that I can be transported even more fully than seeing a performance onstage.

The Day I Was Not a Movie Star

I woke up late this morning, with barely enough time to get dressed and grab something portable for breakfast before my train to work pulled into the station. I hurriedly pulled on my clothes and was shoving my phone into my bag when it started vibrating. It was my manager, telling me that they were cutting staff because the cruise was small. I was free.

But I was also already up and dressed, so I wasn’t going to go back to bed. Instead, I decided to go for a walk. I live in a historic suburban area, and though I’ve glimpsed the big, beautiful houses that litter the streets around me, I’ve never really gotten to take a close look at them. Also, I’ve noticed that my travel time to and from work is very much time I have set aside for myself to read, listen to music, think, etc., to the point where, when I saw a coworker coming off of the same subway car that I was on my way to work yesterday, I waited for her to get a good block ahead of me before I started walking, too. Since I had been called off right as I was about to walk out the door, I was mentally committed to the me time that had been about the commence. So I took a walk.

After strolling for about an hour, I pulled out my phone to check the time and saw that I had missed a call from my aunt. I listened to the voicemail and she told me that there was a casting call for a movie happening about forty minutes away from me. I hurried home to change, grab something to eat, and find the rest of the information.

I used to go to a lot of these things when I was in my teens- open casting calls for movies, usually big budget ones that happened to be shooting locally as well as films being made on a shoestring. For me, at least, they never garnered anything, and while I never minded waiting around for my two seconds in front of the camera, I eventually stopped attending the calls, choosing instead to go to auditions where I had an appointment and a name.

But my aunt had gone out of her way to get me all of the information as quickly as possible and besides, I didn’t have anything to do until about three, so why not? Who knew what would happen? I got in my car and drove to the audition location.

As soon as I walked in, I knew this was going to be like every other cattle call, at least in the amount of people. It was still early, and I was number 79.

I am only beginning to realize what a different person I am than the one I used to be, and, acting-wise, it’s experiences like this that are showing me that. Sixteen year-old Rachel would have been delighted, overjoyed, to sit on the floor of a basement cafe wearing a numbered sticker on her chest. This time, I was happy to be there, but I was glad I had brought constructive things to do. I used to feel amazed and green compared to the people at these calls. Now… maybe I’m a snob, but I felt out of place because, based on the conversations I was overhearing, I was way overqualified to be there.

However. If I were that much better than these people, I’d have an agent that would get me an appointment to be seen on my own, without a handwritten number stuck to my chest. I didn’t have an appointment, so I swallowed my snobbery, took my number, and killed time by working on some writing.

Still, as equal as my status was to everyone around me, I could barely stand to be there. Between seeing people dressed in full historical regalia to the girl next to me practically hyperventilating over the fairly emotionless sides, which included a typo I couldn’t overlook, to hearing the woman next to her give her totally ridiculous advice and then say sagely, “You know, I went to acting school,” I had to will myself to stay in my seat. Then, about five minutes into the auditions, the director came out and was like, “Everyone, when you come into the room, don’t worry about offending me or anyone in the room. If the sides call for you to swear or hate on somebody, just do it. Acting is about…” He went on, but I was fidgeting. While commitment can certainly be a problem for a lot of actors, myself included, there was something about this coddling of us that weirded me out. I appreciated that he wasn’t being all cold-director-man, but it almost made me uncomfortable to have my hand held like that at a cattle call.

The only thing that kept me there for as long as I lasted was the director himself. He came in a little late, fresh off the plane from L.A. He’s semi-famous (I’ve never heard of him, but a lot of people were there just for him), but he stopped and gave everyone a really nice talk about how starting small was just the first step of a successful career and we needed to hold onto our dreams. He gave anyone who asked for it the time of day and was just a very nice, encouraging guy. We had been told before he came that we could pretty much do whatever we wanted in the audition room- sing, juggle, etc. in addition to the sides or a monologue- and I felt like this guy would actually watch and be interested in every single person that came in. I wanted to audition for him.

But I just couldn’t do it. I knew I had to be on the train to my appointment no later than three-fifteen, which meant I had to leave from the audition early enough to get said train, and by twelve-thirty, they were only on person number six. There was no way I would be seen by the time I had to leave. Also, all of those people around me talking about their time at “acting school” and comparing background credits, trying to disguise one-upping as friendly conversation… I felt like my insides were being gnawed at by something. It was all really, really depressing and I knew that if I stayed there, I would be in a really bad place, mentally, during my appointment, and I needed to be in a good, confident state of mind when I got there.

So though I could sense the old Rachel watching in horror as I picked up my things, peeled my number off my shirt, and left, I did it anyway. And you know what? I feel pretty okay about it. Now that I’m back from all of my obligations, I’m happy that I chose to prioritize my state of mind and not force myself to wait for an audition I probably wasn’t even going to be seen for, which would inevitably make me feel angry for bothering to wait, sad that I wasn’t seen, harried as I rushed into the city, and, most likely, upset later when I blew something that really mattered to me because I hadn’t given myself the time to concentrate. Of course, part of the old Rachel- and the general actor- in me is still crying, “But you might have been seen and then he would have seen you perform and put you in his movie and then you would achieve INSTANT FAME,” I’ve been to enough of these things that, while anything can happen, I’m glad I decided that the chance was less important than fully committing to a true obligation.

I am by no means ungrateful to my aunt for finding me the opportunity- I’m sure I would have had a wonderful time if I had gotten into the room. Also, it showed me what I don’t want to do, and to me, learning what those things are is just as, if not more, important than seeing what I do want. I tend to discover those things as I experience them.

This is one of those days where I almost feel like I’m watching from outside myself, seeing the kind of person I’m becoming, slowly but surely. It’s bizarre, but almost always good.

The Nature of the Business

I mentioned that I had a few appointments on Monday. One of them was an audition. It was for a Fringe show- probably my fifth or sixth Fringe show audition just this month. I am desperate to act in a show that is part of this festival. I am in love with it. I don’t even know why, but I am in love with it. This one was a unpaid, student-written, student-directed piece. Since I’m on my own now, I’m trying to shy away from unpaid stuff, but that’s hard, for a couple of reasons- 1) lots of work is unpaid, 2) I don’t mind doing unpaid work because I just want to act, but 2a) I should spend that unpaid rehearsal time at work, making money and 2b) I have been forbidden by the head of the theatre department at my alma mater to take community theatre shows, which unpaid work generally is. When I see a casting call that lists a part for me, I have to make myself look and see if it’s paid, and then spend awhile talking myself out of going if it’s not. I seriously just want to perform.

So anyway. Even though it was unpaid and student-done anything aren’t always regarded as the best, I wanted this show. Beyond it being part of the Fringe, I loved the script. I was sent two sides for my audition and kept reading them over and over and had a great time marking them up and thinking up things I could do. One of them was a real challenge, asking the actor to have a seizure mid-monologue. I was scared of this, but still, I loved the scene.

I went into the audition and though I was pretty nervous, I was also feeling good. I felt like I knew what I was doing, and the audition got off to an amazing start. The writer was the one running the audition, helped by a few other students, and she opened with, “Tell me about yourself and your education and what sorts of roles you’ve done!” I hate these sorts of questions. I know they’re asking for me to run through my resume, but I just can’t seem to figure out a way to do so without feeling awkward about it. I actually have a very good resume with an impressive variety of things on it, but I absolutely hate those people who run through their resume when they meet you, and I don’t want to be that person, even when asked. But I did it, and ended with telling her that I was a Creative Writing minor. “And the only reason I bring that up,” I said. “Is because I love this script because of the writing. It’s what really made me want to audition for this show.” She was thrilled and we ended up having a really great conversation about scriptwriting and where the characters could go. I told her that her writing made me feel everything the character was talking about in the scenes; I felt like I didn’t have to do any work at all, because the emotions were in the words. I was able to heard the two girls before me reading the scenes, and they were all so flat and unexcited, when, to me, the words made me want to do cartwheels around the space.

I got my chance to prove this right after I said it. I chose to do the more monologue-y one first, like the other girls had done. This was the crazy exuberant scene, and also the one in which the seizure happens. I climbed up on chairs. I jumped around. By the end of the scene, I was on the floor in tears. It felt great, and after a second, one of the guys in the corner said, “I really liked that.” “Me too,” the writer agreed. “It’s great to see someone take a risk.”

I was so happy to hear this; one of my problems as an actor is being unwilling to take risks- I prefer to stay in my comfort zone- but with script, I felt like what I did was absolutely what was needed, and they seemed to agree. I moved on to the more scene-y scene, which is super fun even on the page. It was more difficult than I anticipated simply because the reader was a little inexpressive, but still, I had fun. When I finished that, the writer said, “You have such an awesome, powerful quality to your voice. You’re really watchable.” HOORAY! They said they’d let me know within a week or two and then I left.

Okay, I have to say it- I was 99% sure that I was going to get this part. I can remember feeling that way only once before in my life, where I knew I had done well in an audition, where I got a fantastic response, and where I had the confidence that I rarely allow myself to say, “That was great.” I gave a very, very good audition for this show, and the only reason I can’t add that last 1% to my surety is because I know that if I get cocky, the universe will take my part away from me. So when I checked my e-mail while waiting for the subway home this afternoon and saw that it was the audition results, instead of plummeting to the floor as it usually does, my heart rose with hope. I was going to be on that list, I knew it.

I was not on the list.

It’s not a cast list, not yet- it’s just the callback list. But it’s pretty clear  from the e-mail that these (very few) people are the ones they’re going to consider for the roles.

I’ve been in the theatre world for too long to be stomping around crying, “WHAT DID I DO WRONG?!” (though believe me, I’m still thinking it.) I don’t know if I did anything wrong. I never will. But it’s still really frustrating when you know you gave a good audition and nothing comes of it. It’s even more frustrating when it’s for a show you fell in love with. I fall hard for stuff, and then it’s pretty hard to let them go when I don’t get the part.

I keep thinking, and everyone keeps telling me, that with all these auditions I’m going on, my chances of getting a role are greater. Something is bound to happen. But I don’t know… because the thing about theatre is that theatre owes nothing to anyone. And there are a lot of “anyones” running around that deserve a whole lot more than they’re getting and an equal or great number of “anyones” getting a whole lot more than they deserve, with no rhyme or reason for either.

Being discouraged is not something I enjoy, and that’s not how I’d label the way I’m feeling right now. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I have the wild fantasy that they’ll realize a week before the show that I was the perfect actor for the part and they’ll call me up and say they NEED me. To me, discouraged means that you’re inching toward throwing in the towel. I’m not. If I were, I’d be in trouble, because this is the life I’ve chosen for myself and the life I want to lead. It’s always going to be this way- I’ll lose parts I really, really want. I’ll lose parts I don’t care about. But if going to college and not getting cast until my senior year, in a dream role that I worked really hard to get, has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes, it’s a really long wait before you finally get what you’ve been working for.

“Sing It, Girl!”

I like being busy. I get uncomfortable and anxious sitting around doing nothing (though some of my time on my computer is spent writing, which is in fact doing something, much of it is spent looking at Facebook/Tumblr/YouTube, etc.) These last few days, save for yesterday, have been quite full of THINGS, which means that shockingly, I’m back to working all weekend already, starting tomorrow. Hooray, money!

This evening also found me at my workplace for my second one-on-one singing session. I was kind of nervous, partly just because of how my first one went, but also because I kind of slacked and could not, for the life of me, get down the words to Baby Love. I’ve been practicing it constantly over the last two days, but no matter what, the lyrics would not get in my head. Today as I was driving back from Curves, windows down, Diana Ross blaring, this other car pulled up next to me at the stop light. I didn’t take much notice until they honked their horn and the dad went, “Oh yeah, singin’ Baby Love!” He turned to his wife. “And she knows all the words, too, look at her! Sing it, girl!” They gave me a thumbs-up as the light turned green and I laughed the rest of the way home.

I decided to take the train/subway/walking way to work instead of driving; it was (and still is) ridiculously, disgustingly hot today, and I didn’t want to add the frustration of sitting in traffic to the gross weather. The train and the subway is air-conditioned, I figured, and the walk to the ship wouldn’t be too bad. All of these things were true, but as per usual, SEPTA (Philadelphia’s transportation system) was being its usual self. My appointment was at 6:30. I got on the 5:29 train. It takes half an hour to get into the city… when SEPTA actually does its job. Today was not one of those days. We jerked to a halt and sat there for at long time at every stop, sometimes even in between stops. By the time I got to my station, it was 6:15 and the subway wasn’t running as frequently as it generally does. I knew I’d never make it in time,

Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal and as soon as I got on the ship, my manager asked me what I brought. I decided to be honest instead of trying to sing Baby Love and embarrassing myself: I told her I was only read to do Let’s Hear it For the Boy. As it turns out, she didn’t even have the backtrack to Baby Love, so I was off the hook anyway. Next time, I won’t procrastinate so badly.

We worked for about half an hour on the song, and it was equal parts fun and excruciating. I don’t know if my manager is always super nice or if it’s because we graduated from the same university (though we were never there at the same time), but she’s so awesome to me. She’s a performer herself, so she’s able to tell and/or show me exactly what she wants. I planned to go in and do the song so well that I wouldn’t need any notes, but the fact is that, despite being a performer, I find it awkward to be looked at. Especially in this circumstance where, yes, I’m performing, but I’m not any specific character- I’m Rachel, singing. So I wasn’t as exuberant or expressive as I could have been until she pushed me a little. However, my manager is very good at giving pointers without making you feel substandard, and the song itself is really fun. In the end, I was approved to sing, starting this week. Hooray!

The second part of my one-on-one was learning the send-off song, which includes a dance routine. Thankfully, this part was not actually one-on-one; another guy was there, and a second joined us a few minutes into the session. The song/dance is only about two minutes long, but there was a lot to learn. We have to harmonize and the dance routine, while not the hardest one I’ve ever learned, isn’t terribly easy, either. I can’t count how many times I thanked my lucky stars that I have a background in theatre/dance; having to learn routines quickly at auditions has conditioned me for this sort of thing. I don’t know how the people who come to this job without that background cope. I have to say, I know that most of my co-workers hate this routine, but learning it reminded me why I chose to do this as my day job; while yes, I’m a waitress, I’m also a performer, and this job gives me at least a small opportunity to do what I love to do. After about forty-five minutes, I knew the dance and the harmonies fairly well, and I’ll probably be thrown into it as early as tomorrow.

I think that, actually, the weirdest and hardest thing for me to get used to is using a mic. I’ve used a mic very, very rarely in my theatrical career, and I am proud of the fact that I have never needed one to be heard. However, it’s necessary for this job, so I’ve had to get used to using one. One of the things the manager and I worked on closely during my one-on-one was when to keep my mic close to me and when to pull it away; I’ve finally developed a fairly good mix belt, and eating the mic when I use it is not a good idea, so in addition to the regular blocking I was given, I had to apply sort of mic blocking. The nice thing about a mic, though, is it gives you something to do with at least one hand during the song; it makes everything a lot less awkward. I’m pretty excited to get to sing soon 🙂

Oh, and one last thing: I feel like some of you guys are probably thinking, “If this girl claims she’s an actress, where are the posts about all the auditions she should be going to?” I promise- I’ve been going. I’ve been on twelve auditions since I graduated. However, I am really superstitious when it comes to talking about auditions before I know the outcome; I firmly believe that speaking of them will lead to me not getting the part. So I don’t talk about them. But I’m going!

And Then My Schedule Got Crazy

Many, many things have happened since I last wrote. Here they are, nice and neat:

-The weekend: work.  Ridiculous. Of course, I’m not complaining- I’m jazzed to be getting so many shifts so early, especially since last summer, at my old job, I generally worked a grand total of twice a week. While days off are nice, I’d like to actually make some money. So I’m not complaining when I tell you that I worked four shifts in three days. Sunday was my first ever double shift as a waitress, and though I could no longer feel my legs by the end, I am happy to announce that I am getting better at being a waitress. Especially during my second shift on Sunday, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was actually given the choice to go home after my first shift, but I was already prepared to work an additional eight hours, and let’s face it, I need the money. So I stayed, and good thing, too, since my manager came running over to me fifteen minutes into people boarding and said, “We had a little mix-up and there’s an additional table of four next to your two-top [table of two.] Just take care of them, okay?” Thankfully, in addition to my other awesome tables, this table held two dads and their sons celebrating Father’s Day and they were super cute and nice, so no complaints.

-The weekend: family party. After work on Saturday, I took the train about fifty minutes to the town where my aunt, uncle, and cousins live and my mom picked me up. I was really glad to be able to go to this get-together, since we don’t see the extended family a ton, and also it was the day before Father’s Day and I hadn’t seen my dad for… I don’t even know how long. I know he wasn’t there the day I moved out. So that was nice.

Pretty much every family member that was nearby was at the party- my parents, my sister, two uncles, two aunts, my grandfather, and four cousins. Times with this family are always really fun, and Saturday was no exception. As my Aunt Diane said, we’re a family that genuinely enjoys each other’s company, and besides getting into a solidarity rant with my sister and cousin Amanda about our unmarried status, the evening was host to such quotable gems as “I’m hurt on a genetic level.” We also ceremoniously burnt a bag of old bagels, because we know how to party.

It was very interesting to notice how my family speaks to me differently now that I’ve graduated/moved out/gotten a job. My family has always believed in speaking to children like people, as opposed to using baby talk, but even after a life of being spoken to like an intelligent human being, I’ve noticed that my interactions with everyone were a little different. It’s hard to describe how exactly, but it was definitely a good thing. Even my conversations with my mom were different than usual. I think I like it.

-Things I realized at work: while I am liking my job so far, there are some things that I don’t like. These things have very little to do with my actual job, which is why I feel I can rant about them.

  • Ties. I hate wearing one. Maybe this is just because I’m a girl and so haven’t ever sported a tie (though apparently I’m alone in this. When I complained about this to my friend Nicole, she said, “You’ve never worn a tie?” I guess I missed that fashion memo. Then again, I missed most fashion memos until I got to college.) But I really hate wearing one. First of all, I don’t know how to tie it, and while it’s simple enough to have someone tie it for me once and just loosen it and leave it tied for the next shift, they do eventually need to be retied so they don’t look messy. Also, the reason I never wore a tie as a fashion statement is because high-necked shirts (with which ties are usually worn) do not compliment my figure. Sadly, I have to wear both for work. Bleh. Also, my stupid tie keeps getting stained and stuck on stuff and no freaking way am I paying to have it dry-cleaned.
  • Balloons. Oh my God. I hate them so much. When we have large groups that take up more than one table, we tie a balloon on one of the end chairs on each table. I am always filled with dread when I see them being fastened to a chair leg, because I know that that means the whole shift will consist of me swerving around or getting tangled in balloons, which is super awkward because someone is always sitting in those chairs.
  • I Need to Drink All the Things. Remember when I was lamenting that I didn’t drink alcohol, certain that it would solve all my serving problems if I knew the difference between a merlot and a cabernet? Yeah, no. No, because it’s not just the alcohol that’s tripping me up. It’s pretty much ALL the drinks. Turns out, I’m weirder than I thought. In addition to not being a beer/wine/rum/etc. drinker, I also don’t drink coffee or iced tea. And all the different versions of each of those look EXACTLY THE SAME. Also, on Friday, one of the grumpy old ladies at a table full of grumpy old ladies asked me if she could have an iced coffee. The woman next to her thought that sounded like the best idea ever and asked for one too. And since I detest coffee, I had no idea how an iced coffee was made. I mean, yeah, it’s sort of self-explanatory: you put the ice in the coffee, but there’s a reason that businesses have machines for these kinds of things. It’s really hard to figure out the coffee-to-ice-cube ratio in the glasses we use, especially when you’re not a coffee drinker and the old lady is lecturing you on what it should look like. Long story short, I’m sure they left thinking I was the stupidest they’d ever met and I hate making iced coffee.
  • The Song I Thought Was a Hazing Ritual: During my final shift this weekend, my manager came over and said, “Will you go do bye-bye line.” “Sure,” I said, then, “What is that?” A few minutes later, I found myself standing outside the ship with co-workers Tori and Angela. Tori explained to Angela (who is new-ish) and me that as the guests are coming off the ship, we sing the same four lines of a song and clap along. The song is a convoluted, my-job-specific version of a popular tune, and it’s kind of ridiculous, to the point where I actually thought that Tori was just pulling our legs. I was sure that if Angela and I did this, it would be The Story for two weeks about how Tori got the new girls to sing the hazing song and hahahaha wasn’t it funny? I refused to be the butt of a joke, so when passengers started coming off the ship, I waited to see if Tori would start singing. She did, and so Angela and I joined in. After a good amount of people had come off the ship, I suddenly saw our manager running toward us. I knew what was going to happen. She was going to come over and ask Tori what she was doing and why the old employees felt the need to make the new people go through. So I was pretty surprised when she stood in line across from us and joined in. So apparently it’s not a hazing ritual- it’s what is actually done.
  • My shoes. I finally got them from the office yesterday. The box looks like it’s been through a war, and my shoes are the hugest, ugliest things I have ever seen. I don’t care if they’re non- slip. I abhor them with every fiber of my being. Big clunky shoes are a huge pet peeve of mine.

-The show. Yesterday I wandered around the city all day, picking up my shoes and going to various appointments, and ended the day with seeing one of my friends’ shows. It was a solo show, and though I didn’t have much interest in the subject matter, I wanted to support my friend. And WOW,  was he amazing. He played so many characters and the show was scary and gross and well-written (he did the adaptation) and just great. I think it must be so hard to have such amazing comedic timing when you’re doing both sides of the conversation, but he handled it perfectly. It was a great way to finish off the day.

Tomorrow I have another solo rehearsal with my manager- I hope it goes better than last time. Either way, you know I’ll be reporting on it.

Just When You Thought You’d Seen Everything…

I’ve been auditioning pretty regularly since I was thirteen, and you’d think that in nine years, I’d have seen every kind of audition there is. I thought this was the case until this past Tuesday.

I was trawling Theatre Alliance for auditions, as is my custom, and found an audition that had just been posted that day… for that night, as well as Wednesday night. As I had plans with Stuart on Wednesday, I quickly sent an e-mail to the address listed. There was very little information given in the notice- no location, no running time, no hint at what we might need to prepare for the audition. My e-mail said something along the simplified lines of “I’d like to audition for your show tonight.” About an hour later, I got a response: “I’m not auditioning people tonight. This evening will be a rehearsal. Please look at the attached script and read the part of Character A. Then send me a paragraph stating what you believe Character A is saying about the larger world. I will send you the location depending on your answer. Please reply by no later than 4:30.”

…What? What was this? Was this a writing audition? Do those exist? I have never had someone decide whether or not I can audition (or rehearse) based on an analytical writing sample. Then again, it’s not a terrible idea…

At this point it was around 2:30, so I quickly read the monologue and wrote a few paragraphs chock full of deep and amazing insight (or something) and sent it off. About twenty minutes later, I got an e-mail giving me the rehearsal location. I guess I passed. I was on Facebook chat with my friend Katie at that point and wrote to her, “…I think I just got in a show.”

I had to catch a train into the city. I had been lazing about all day and so wasn’t even dressed in acceptable clothing. I threw on something fairly presentable and drove to the train station in the pouring rain. After reaching the city, I sloshed my way to the address (in regular shoes. My rain boots were sitting helpfully at home.) I was a little confused by all health… okay, all the safe sex-related posters in the windows, but hey, I support safe sex, too, so obviously the people in there and I were on the same page. I went in. Inside, there were more safe sex posters, as well as ones urging me to get tested for STDs and to make sure my partner doesn’t have AIDS. The guy at the desk asked if he could help me, and I asked where the rehearsal was going to be. He looked confused. I stumbled through a description of the audition notice, thinking as I spoke how sketchy it all sounded and was turning out to be. After I finished, the guy stared at me for a few seconds, then said, “So you want to get tested?”

“No. No, no, no, no!” I said, then realized I probably shouldn’t sound so repulsed by the suggestion that I have an STD in the place where people were waiting to be tested for STDs. Thankfully, someone who knew what I was talking about came up at that moment, and I was told to take a seat. I was pretty early, so I waited for a long time, and it was a long time before someone else came for the audition. I got to talking with the two other women who were there. One of them had worked with the director before and she confirmed that he was not a creeper that wanted to murder us or anything. The other had also had to write the paragraph and was impressed that I was accepted to come in such a short time.

The director was a little late, but when he arrived, I was relieved. He was normal-looking and very friendly and seemed quite smart (then again, Ted Bundy was all of these things, too, so maybe I shouldn’t make this my criteria for People Who Aren’t Going to Kill Me.) He told the five of us sitting there that while the two men were automatically in the show, he’d have to audition the women, as there was only one role, which would be cast as soon as we were done auditioning. We went up to the third floor and he gave us the sides and then sent one of the women and me out into the hall while he auditioned the first girl.

He had asked us to look at Character A, but a few minutes later, came out and said we could also look at Character B. I was relieved- Character A speaks quite unnaturally and sometimes in a poetic form, and I was worried I’d sound weird reading it. I took a quick look at Character B and decided that I’d definitely be reading for her- she spoke in normal prose. I hadn’t even finished reading through her monologue once before the director called me in. This meant that I stumbled over a few things, but overall, I was pretty pleased- more pleased than I would have been had I read for Character A.

After the other woman read, the director came out and announced that Woman #2 would be playing the part, and Woman #1 would be the understudy. I got a pep talk about how this wasn’t about my talent and all that jazz, but it wasn’t a big deal. Both women were similar- they weren’t more than an inch or so taller than me, but both were much heavier than I am and had deep voices, so to cast one of them and then have me in the mix would have been two totally different takes. Plus, I wasn’t exactly emotionally attached to an audition I’d found just four hours earlier. I went home.

Today was a different case. I had to work until four, and then at six, I had an audition in New Jersey for Guys & Dolls. Stupidly, I thought I would be able to get there in time after taking the train home from work, but after I got home, threw on the first dress my hands landed on and dashed back to my car with my audition stuff, my GPS informed me that if I was lucky, I’d be fifteen minutes late.

I was not lucky. Driving through, or even around, Philadelphia during rush hour isn’t exactly speedy. By the time I found a parking space behind the theatre, I was fifty minutes late. I ran into the theatre, where a woman asked if she could help me. “Am I too late?!” I panted. She stared at me. “For what?” “The audition,” I said. “For Guys & Dolls.” More staring, then she told me, “Those are on July 15th.”

Oh. Well, didn’t I feel stupid. But I guess it’s better than being a month late? (She told me that before, two girls came in asking where the Legally Blonde auditions were and the show was running on that date.) So she took my information and again, I went home. I think this was sort of a blessing in disguise, though- if I have to work on this date next month, I’ll know to just bring my audition stuff to work with me and drive from there.

The best part about this was that, even though I didn’t even actually audition for anything, as I was driving home, I felt really, awesomely happy. At work today, the hard reality of how common people like me are- young actresses living and trying to work in Philadelphia- hit me and I was pretty discouraged. But even the prospect of an audition fills me with such joy that I can’t help but get excited. I hope that’s a sign that, no matter how difficult the rest of my life is going to be, I’ve chosen the right profession.

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