Here, There be a Writer

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Essay - How to Audition

It's a bit surreal when you do something that you haven't done before.

Auditioning! Its not something new, truthfully. But....

Audition: 1. a trial hearing given to a singer, actor, or other performer to test suitability for employment, professional training or competition, etc.; 2. a reading or other simplified rendering of a theatrical work, performed before a potential backer, producer, etc.

A trial is definitely what is was. Funny that after all this time I am seeing like that. 

I have auditioned for a number of shows over the years and each one has a story: a few of the memorable ones were Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (that didn't go well, still got a chorus part), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (did go well, was asked to be the back stage manager. I was still pleased with my performance), and Beauty and the Beast (my first musical and I was scared out of my mind, also got chorus). This past weekend I attended auditions for a local production of Shakespeare's MacBeth with The Keuka Lake Players (out of Bath/Hammondsport area). This is there third Shakespeare production I am going to be involved with, the first being A Midsummer's Night Dream in 2012, I played Bottom and then two year laters in 201, I played Trinculo in The Tempest. Dear Readers, you probably have read out some of my exploits in the theatre world on this blog. This is about my most recent foray into Shakespeare, specifically about the audition process and what I discovered.

A trial is something you have to go through to see that what you do has purpose. An audition has purpose, to get you to show your best for the role you want. I knew what I wanted, or did I?

You see, Dear Readers, I guess I never really took auditions quite so seriously before. Often I would go in and just do a cold read of the scene for the part I wanted. If it was a straight play, no singing or Shakespeare I would just go and read. When it came to Shakespeare I was much more unsure that I could just do a cold read. For the past two shows I would I read the show all the way through, so i would at least know the show, if i hadn't already read it. With Midsummer I focused more on how I could be Puck (by reading and re-reading the Puck parts), and to  think like Puck (this was the part I wanted). I remember during Midsummer auditions I tried to take what the director suggested and  give her what she wanted. i hadn't prepared anything, I just knew the show (is my favourite Shakespeare show). Thus, I did not get the part I wanted, but I ended up getting cast as Nicholas Bottom, the Ass. I loved the role of Bottom. As proof, I still have the head! 'Twas a good time.

Me in the Asshat!! (The only time this term is accurate)
When it came to The Tempest, I had much less time and wasn't as prepared. I never worked on a monologue, nor did I the show more than once prior to the audition. I wanted Ariel. I wanted Ariel bad. But i wasn't prepared when I read for Ariel, thusly, I did not get it. True story, Tara who did get Ariel was perfect. I was cast as Trinculo the drunken clown and cast alongside Sara as Stephano and David as Caliban. It was the best time and The Tempest is a new favourite!

What have I learned?

Hang on, I'm getting there.

So somewhere in the middle of the last two year my brain decided that after Tempest I needed to try something different. For MacBeth, I was asked to prepare a monologue from an non-MacBeth show and something from Macbeth. This meant that I had to actually do some research and work. I took it  much more seriously.

Try: to attempt to do or accomplish.

Something I never realized before about auditions is that they are hard work, especially if you want that part. Audition are just as important as when you get the part, spend time rehearsing, and performing. Auditions really are the foundation on which you build a show. I wanted to be Lady MacBeth. I wanted it. I wanted it bad. I found my Midsummer script and prepared my old Pyramus monologue from the play within the play, "Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beam; I thank thee moon for shining now so bright; for by thy gracious, golden glittering gleams; I trust to take of truest Thisby's sight..." It was surprisingly easy to return to Bottom. I had an old copy of the script. Also, I bought a new copy of MacBeth and picked out a scene to learn

Dear Readers, when I chose to do that I made a commitment to myself to do what I could to get that part. I purchased the FEAR NOT version of MacBeth that had 2 versions, the regular Shakespeare version and the modern language version. Act 1 Scene 5 is what I read, over and over, looking for cadence, emotions, and tamber.  I looked into the deeper meanings, trying to figure out who Lady MacBeth was.This is what I studied. I looked up scenes online for further development in Lady MacBeth's character. I did this to see what makes her tick. The power and passion under her persona. "O, never shall the sun the morrow shall see. Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters...Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't...and you shall put this night's great business into my dispatch...give solely sovereign saway and masterdom."

Commitment: a pledge or promise; obligation.

I was scared out of my mind when I went to Thursday (the first night of auditions). But, I stood up and performed my Bottom monologue in front of those at auditions (many who were my friends). That went well (except that I messed up a line and had to start over, probably because I overthought it at first). Bottom lived and flowed off my tongue in an overzealous spree. It was glorious! That was the easy part. When the time came to do my 1-5 scene, I was paired with Ryan, an English teacher who has taught this play for years in his class room (and husband to Sara. And no, it wasn't awkward either, Dear Readers.Yes, I have to tell you that). I wasn't off book, but I performed the scene. It is vastly different doing a scene with someone then by yourself, which is what I had been doing. Suddenly there was chemistry, elecrticity flowing through me and Ryan. I could feel myself becoming Lady MacBeth.

Transform: to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.

The downside, I second guessed myself and I didn't push past and complete the circuit to make the transformation complete. I knew I hadn't done everything. The rest of the audition included reading with Kevin and Ryan in other scenes and finally reading the "Out Damned Spot" scene. I left feeling good, but disconnected, and now I had to wait.

Sara said that anyone reading for a lead should come back Saturday for callbacks. I vowed to return. I vowed to start what  I finished. This was the upside.

Downside, I had to wait a whole day and a half before I could get there.

Upside, more time to find the Lady MacBeth in me.

Friday was more studying and keeping busy, a good three hours at my local coffee shop Soulful Cup where I found this page and the quiz. I took it and got a 5 out of 5. And when Saturday arrived I was wired, nervous, excited, and probably several other emotions hanging out in my head. It was a long day and equally long night. A three hour audition turned into a 4 and half hour audition where I waited the first 90 minutes before I could read. There was suddenly a slew of new people auditioning that needed to go first. So, I waited. The talent of Thursday was amazing. But Saturday's blew me away, and I was only auditioning. And I waited.

To wait: to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens (often followed by for, till, or until.

Whence I got to perform, and it truly felt like a performance. I read against Ryan for 1-5, 1-7, and 2-2. Also read for more Witch scenes too. But when I was Lady MacBeth I felt the room move away from me and time become real only for Ryan and myself. In 1-5, after MacBeth enters and Lady MacBeth sees him, she is suddenly full of life, blood, passion, and desire.  I felt I was loving on my husband, the great provider, the new Thane of Glamis and Cawdor. I could feel Lady MacBeth's passion for MacBeth, her power and her sex flowing through me. In a split second, right when I had pause (merely a millisecond) I was kissing him in my audition, doing what I had wanted to do on Thursday, but has second guessed myself, living the scene as if it was my life. I had become Lady MacBeth and I had sold it. I brought it! "Only look up clear. To alter favor ever is to fear. Leave all the rest to me." It wasn't a fluke as when Ryan and I read 1-7, the passion was equally there and another kiss. I still cannot believe it, but I can, because I did it. I made those choices to make that scene as realistic as possible, to show the love, passion, and insanity that is Lady MacBeth.

I was floating. It was wonderful.

Note: Lady MacBeth is a very fun character to portray, but also physically demanding.

After the casting, my friend Lisa(h)-yes I added an H-told me afterward that even if you do not get the part or job, you should still "sell to the room". Lisa(h) was my biggest competition for Lady MacBeth and a close friend. We had joked between us earlier that it was a battle and it was no hard feelings between. And there aren't. She won Lady MacBeth fair and square. This audition was my battle to win or lose, mine alone. I fought. i fought hard. And while I didn't win Lady MacBeth, but not for trying,I don't feel I lost. Seriously, it was that close. I still won. I sold the room and for those brief moments I WAS Lady MacBeth. (Even when there was giggles and Ryan had started giggling during scene 1-5). We finished three scene strong and proved to the room that both of us could do it.

We were MacBeth and Lady MacBeth.

I am very proud to say that I am playing Witch #1, Lisa(h) is Lady MacBeth, Ryan is MacDuff, and David is MacBeth. The whole cast is filled with phenomenal actors and my theatre family. We are going to make something amazing and awesome. And I got to prove to myself and to others that I am force to be reckoned with.

I also have set the bar pretty high for myself. I cannot just go to an audition and expect to get a part on a cold read. Yes, sometimes it happens, but no always. If I want something I have to fight for it.

Win: to succeed by striving or effort.


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