3 A.M. Trips to New York City

Wow… the past few days have been crazy, crazy, crazy. I’ve barely been able to breathe, let alone blog. But that made me sad, and so here I am!

I decided that I would go home this past Monday and have a nice, relaxing 48 hours in the town of E before going to my dentist appointment on Tuesday night. Then a surprise happened.

I’ve been getting Backstage magazine (an actor’s newspaper that lists casting calls as well as hosting articles) since I was fourteen and have been auditioning in New York since I was sixteen. I go semi-regularly- basically, if there was an audition and I didn’t have rehearsal or class, I was there. I didn’t get to go up much this school year due to playing some awesome parts at school, but I’ve been a few times, and they’ve all been crapshoots and I was getting pretty jaded and upset. It’s always been the goal for me to move to New York City, but lately, I’ve been wondering if that’s what I really want to do. Besides Philadelphia being a really great theatre town itself and being quite close to New York, I also noticed that when I have a bad day in New York, I just want to leave. This might be because I don’t have anywhere home-y to go, so when I stood outside of Pearl Studios in January and cried because I didn’t get the apprenticeship I had my heart set on, I wanted to get out of the city, and fast. Maybe if I actually lived there and could go cry into my pillow or something it might be different.

Anyway. All this is to say that I was home and was reading Backstage. I read it every week and submit to as many projects as I can. Generally, nothing happens and I move on. So Monday, maybe around 3:30, I submitted to three or four film projects. At 3:40, my phone started ringing. I didn’t recognize the number and was very confused.

“Hi,” an unfamiliar voice greeted me when I answered. “This is Chris from [Film Project #3.] The one you submitted for about five minutes ago?”

“Oh! Oh, hi! Hi!” I put on my phone voice as best I could over my excitement. From the small amount of film work I’ve done, I know that things happen fast, but a five-minute turnaround time was a record. “We were wondering if you could come in tomorrow?” the producer asked. He gave me some times that wouldn’t work and finally, we settled on 9:05 a.m. I was in such a daze at the speed of everything that, even though I talked to him a little more and wrote the information down, I couldn’t remember what had happened five minutes later. I hung up and said to my mom, “I… I have an audition in New York tomorrow.”

The next hour was a flurry of searching for and buying tickets. My hometown has an Amtrak station, but the train I needed was sold out and prices were through the roof on everything. It was obvious that, just hours after arriving home, I was going to have to drive to my grown-up room and stay there overnight to catch a train from Philadelphia. I considered Bolt /Mega Bus, especially because Amtrak prices were so high, but this was no open call where I wouldn’t be missed. I had an appointment, and buses can get stuck in traffic. So the train it was.

The notice had mentioned that I was supposed to get sides, and since I don’t have a printer at my grown-up place, I needed them before I left home. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase that without sounding like I was chastising the director for being forgetful, so I fished for another reason to call. (I normally never ever ever call them to ask questions but, well… I needed my sides.) Finally, I called him and asked him a legitimate question about the character’s age. He gave me a minor heart attack by saying, “Oh, no, we cut that part.” I was thinking, “We just spent over a hundred dollars on train tickets and I don’t even need to come?!” But what he meant was that instead of auditioning for only the younger version of the character, I would be reading for both the younger and the present-day version, and, should I get the part, aging make-up would be applied. After clarifying this, I slipped in the question about the sides and learned that it would be a cold read.

After dinner, I packed my things back up, got in the car, and headed back to Philadelphia. I wanted to stay at home longer, but as dorky as it sounds, I had to get back and go to bed. Why? Oh, because I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. I’m used to getting up early for New York auditions; five’s not too bad. Four has been done. But three is really freaking early, especially since, after arriving at ten p.m., I had to do my hair so it would be easy to manage in the morning, so I didn’t get to bed until about eleven. Then, I was so paranoid that I’d oversleep that  I woke up every hour, finally getting up for good at three.

I caught both trains that I needed and they were super cold and I tried to sleep to avoid hitting that mid-afternoon wall that is common when I go on these early auditions (I never actually manage to avoid it, but I have a dream…) I got to the city with more than enough time to find the place and an hour before my audition time, I was sitting outside the room.

The auditions got started late, by no fault of the people involved, so I ended up waiting with the producer, writer, and director and chatting with them a little. Finally, we were let into the space and they started setting everything else. Most of the actors around my time slot were kids, auditioning for the very young versions of the main characters, but there were a few guys around my age and one woman who was maybe ten years older than me. This freaked me out. Even when I had been auditioning for the younger version of the main character, I was worried; she was listed as 20s-30s, and while I don’t fool myself that I look fourteen, if I manage to be considered as in my twenties, it’s waaaay down on the low side. And now that I was reading for the character spanning from her twenties to her forties… well, this woman was looking pretty threatening to me.

But, I reminded myself, this is not an open call. You didn’t just show up. They saw your picture and they invited you. They know how young you are and are obviously fine with it. Then I repeated some of the things my college advisor has told me about my performance ability, things so flattering and surprising that to me, they feel like they’re meant for someone else.

As I was waiting, I was also looking at the little girls and thinking things like, ‘I hope she’s good; we have the same nose and the same hair color. Our eyes don’t really match, though…’

I was second to be seen. I was really excited to perform the sides. They were sparse but well-written and very moving. The character had to get teary and then sob in the scene, and the sides made that pretty easy. The director, producer, and writer were all there and they were super nice, and the one that read with me did an awesome job. It was difficult to perform the sides simply because a lot of it was based on action, like “my” character reacting to the other drinking water too quickly. But I had a really good time, and they seemed to enjoy my performance. I didn’t cry as much as I would have liked, but it is film, so maybe it wasn’t that big a deal. When I was done, they asked me if I would be available for callbacks on Friday. After checking my calendar and seeing that I had work, I said, “But I can switch with someone. Yes.” (I chastised myself for about two hours afterwards for not just saying yes. What’s wrong with me?)

I didn’t know how I felt about the audition. When I came out of the room, I was smiling uncontrollably, triumphantly, even, but then when I got to the bathroom down the hall, I started crying. Why, I have no idea. Perhaps they were happy tears or just nerves being released or maybe I really was upset. Don’t ask me to decipher my own emotions.

I went home almost immediately after and worried that, if I did get a callback, I wouldn’t be able to find someone to cover my shift. But fate was ony my side- when I checked my e-mail on the train, at the top if my inbox was a message from someone saying they could cover the Friday morning shift. I asked her to be on call for me.

I thought that all of these things lining up were a sign, but sadly, as Wednesday and yesterday wore on with no word from the film people, I knew I wasn’t going to get the project. I was and am pretty disappointed. It’s been so long since I’ve done film work, and this seemed like a great project to work on. I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t my performance that lost me the part. It might have been my age, but it could also have been dependent on the performances of the young girls. If all of the brunette girls with chubby cheeks and freckles weren’t good, or the one with blonde ringlets and blue eyes was the one they knew they wanted, then that would automatically knock me out of the running. It’s crazy, but that’s how it works sometimes.

I’m getting antsy. I am craving being onstage again. I just found a really great audition for a community theatre, one I’ve worked at before, and even though I’m not supposed to be doing community theatre, I think I’ll go if I can. It’s a show I’ve wanted to do for awhile and if I’m not in anything else… why not?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MOM
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 20:32:26

    voice of reason: depends on where and when….

    Reply

  2. Party Dress Just For Fun
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 13:23:05

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don¡¯t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already Cheers!

    Reply

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