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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