Letters to Holly

Thursday, August 30

First Night Audition

I found a rather swank t-shirt in my mailbox yesterday. Is that a PC printer iron-on? I thought about doing some of those for my designs before. Your Sis seems to have picked up a bug from the students and lacks a voice. She thinks it's allergies. If that's true, the kayak trip may be off.

The theatre's default headquarters is a warehouse space on loan from a local manufacturing company. It's tucked away from the road, and I initially went to the wrong building. I figured it wasn't the place when I realized there was no way we could rehearse over the noise of the equipment. I drove down the road and notice the collection of cars outside a building that wouldn't be used at 7 p.m. normally and then found the theatre sign taped to the door.

As I walk in, I see a woman having her mugshot taken by a man with a Polaroid. I miss those cameras. Not enough to ditch my digital camera, but I used my old 600 model for years. Behind them is a table with a banner listing the name of the play. I hear the photographer explain why Witness is a no-go, a point my wife says is silly. Why not just go black box style of the scenes away from the courtroom, she wonders?

I have my callsheet in hand to turn over to the organizers, and they take it and attach my fresh mugshot to it. The girl signing up at the table was a student of my wife, and she asks me to pass along her hello. As I grab a stack of xeroxed pages from the script, I see another callsheet on the table. It's apparently been left there mistakenly. I read the name. It's the doctor from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. The guy with memory trouble. The guy who swiped my socks.

I walk into a cobbled-together room space with two sections of chairs and a director's table facing space for the actors to stand while reading. And theres the doc. We catch up on what we've done since Cat. He's done a few other plays and played another doctor role. I'm introduced to the stage manager, a young gal of about 25. I also meet the director, who I talked to on the phone last week. She takes her place at the table and walks us through the play. The doc knows it and gives me a quick run-through. We're getting long fine. There's about five men here, including me (the youngest by decades), and three women hoping for roles.

The doc and I are first to be called up. It's a scene between the prosecutor and the medical examiner. He asks to read the attorney, and I'm fine with that. I don't get a chance to read the scene before we stand up there so I'm focused on projecting and reading at a slow, steady pace. After about six lines each, the director stops us to switch roles. Doc doesn't like that, but we read on.

The audition lasts about an hour, and it seems to be focusing on the male characters. I read for both attorneys and the shady Swedish accountant. I don't have a Swedish dialect handy, so I German my way through it. I have had time to read this scene, and I know where to add the arrogance. It goes over well. Doc is called up to read for the ME almost exclusively. He does not glow with joy. When he gets a chance to read an attorney role, he's asked halfway through to give it a New York edge. He has a substantial, warm Southern drawl, and a Yankee accent is tricky for him. I don't have an accent unless I'm around my family, so I apparently read OK.

We are told that there will be two audition batches: today and tomorrow and two weeks from now to give the folks performing Fiddler a chance. The rehearsals will start on Sept. 18, giving the cast (whoever they might be) just over a month to learn a 110+ page script. It should be pretty easy for everyone except the attorneys; most of the characters are answering questions on the stand.

Because of the short rehearsal time, I assume they will give the attorney roles to people they know. I'm a bit surprised by everyone else's lack of projection; they're talking very low, so low that they can't give inflection to the dialogue. And it's good dialogue. Flat-out noir stuff. I'm having too much fun working the lines to be nervous. I'm told that if I work on the Swedish accent, that character is essentially mine. I can live with that. A questionable character giving pointed testimony will be fun. But I've got three more nights to angle for the bigger roles.

When I go in tonight, and if I get the chance to read for the DA, I'll give it a little De Niro edge. I'm hoping I can find some Abba documentary videos on YouTube to help me pad out the Swedish. The only other reference I have on hand is Uula from The Producers, but that's a caricature accent. After that, it's mimicking Lake Woebegone or the Swedish Chef ("I didn't keel heem ya, bork bork bork.")

Picture of the Day
I assume I won't be asked to dress like this.

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