That Acting Thing I Do, For Better or Worse

Sunday was a terrible day, one of the only acting-related bad days I’ve had in a long time.

Around Thanksgiving, I auditioned for a production of Hairspray. It was my first audition at that theatre and it was a little intimidating simply because I only knew one person and we were two twenty-somethings sitting in the middle of a sea of giggling, show-offy fourteen year-olds who were all the director’s cronies. Nevertheless, the audition went very well, and I was asked to stay for callbacks that night. I wasn’t called back for any specific character, but Hairspray would be a great show for me to be in, even as a chorus member; it’s not often I get to be a dancer. I had a great time at the callback and picked up the dance pretty well. I felt good.

Skip ahead two months and my friend Facebooked me and told me that the director had stepped down and everyone who had been cast (not that a list had been released) was no longer in the show and they were redoing the whole process. She and I both signed up for new audition times. Probably a week or two later, we both received an e-mail saying that the casting committee had been very impressed with our talent and wanted us to come straight to callbacks. My friend and I told the casting director that we had already signed up for times, and the CD said to come to those times, we’d be invited to callbacks, and all would be well.

So on Sunday, I went to my audition with a different song. It’s a pretty standard audition song, but the pianist did not handle it well; he was playing something completely different than I was singing and I had to start over twice, which I hate doing. When I was finished, the director said, “Thank you.” And nothing else.

Thank you means “thanks for coming.” Thank you means no callback.

I was confused. The old committee wanted me to stay, but if the new one didn’t want me to, I didn’t want to show up somewhere they didn’t want me to. I asked the monitor and he said he would check when there was a lapse in auditioners. An hour later, I was still waiting. And it’s not that I wanted them to service me right away, but if I was taking up space when I could go home and have dinner there instead of eating it out of a tupperware container, I much preferred that. But I didn’t want to be a diva, so I kept waiting. My friend arrived and we were chatting, but she was getting distracted by all of her Tracy competition and I was getting distracted by the growing number of people arriving for callbacks and taking up space in the tiny room. It got to the point where I thought I was going to scream if someone touched me again. I saw the monitor and worked my way through the crowd to him. “Should I stay?” I asked. He barely looked at me. “Uh… yeah, sure, stay.”

This was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted a callback, definitely, but I wanted them to WANT me at callbacks. I didn’t want a perfunctory, “sure, honey, if it’ll make you happy” invite. I spent a good few minutes trying to decide which would be worse: leaving before a callback to which I was technically invited, or staying when I knew I wasn’t wanted. In the end, I chose the latter, and later wished I hadn’t. The last callback had been full, but this one had double the number of people- I think the final count was fifty-five, mostly girls. The old director’s cronies were loudly miffed that they had been downgraded from older teen character callbacks by actors who were, you know, over fourteen. And the dance was really, REALLY hard. The last one was hard, too, but I picked up on it. This one was harder, and I looked five times worse because most of the girls were unbelievably incredible dancers. My mood continued to go lower when the director split us up into character groups and I wasn’t on the list for any of them.

But I stayed. And I danced, which usually makes me feel better, even if I’m bad, but it didn’t. In the end, because I had been put in the Council Girls group (and because they didn’t want me there), I was sent home and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

I arrived home in a terrible mood and threw myself on my bed to check my e-mail… and saw that I had an e-mail from the director of a student film I had just auditioned for. I got the female lead. And instantly, my mood turned around. This was amazing, because even before the awful night, I had been having a terrible, crying-for-no-reason day. But getting that part in a super-cute film really made everything better. So thank God for that. We shoot the first weekend in March!

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