Bloomingplays I this Saturday

July 31, 2009

Saturday is the start of the BloomingPlays development series. This weekend features two all-day workshops where plays are read and then structured feedback given immediately by the actors and audience. It’s a great way for playwrights to develop their work and hone their skills. The revised plays will be back in November and then January for additional reads.

Kindred, the one-act play I wrote with Lori Garraghty, is up for a read on Sunday at 2. I’m nervous about the feedback. It will be facilitated and I know people will be nice, but it’s always a little nerve-wracking to have someone critique your work!

I’ll also be reading the part of Lena in Auditions Saturday morning at 11. Sunday at 11 I’m in The Dragon’s Wrath. Both are full-length plays. They will be “table reads” but “without the table” as Tracy Bee says. The actors set in chairs on stage and read from the script. The facilitator reads the stage directions.

The most nerve-wracking part of all is a phone sex scene I have to play in The Dragon’s Wrath! Eek! I’ve never done anything like it and suspect it will be the source for ongoing mocking from Gabe, perhaps for the rest of my life. I’m wondering if I can have a coughing fit in the midst of it. I envision either being so embarrassed that I can’t pull it off, or laughing so hard I fall off my chair. Either is sufficiently mortifying. Ah, acting!

See the full schedule of readings at the BPP’s site and come out! It will be a lot of fun and a unique experience. You get to give feedback directly to playwrights, who may actually listen! Imagine! 😉 Seriously, come out. We’d love to hear from you.


First audition in 23 years

April 26, 2009

Today I auditioned for Cardinal Stage Company. It’s a general audition for the season rather than for a particular show. I’ve been rehearsing non-stop for 6 weeks in preparation. 

I did the last 25 bars or so of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar for my song. For my monologue, I used a short piece entitled Tatiana that was written back in about 2004 by a playwright at the BPP—a playwright who neglected to put her name on the manuscript.

I worked with the lovely and talented Mr Richard Perez to go in with the best possible delivery I could within the time constraints I had. Rich is a great director—he hints at broader ideas or asks questions that lead you to a deeper understanding of the character. Many directors just focus on blocking and line delivery.

We had a breakthrough on Wednesday when I made a new connection with my character’s motivation and ended up sobbing for an hour afterwards. 🙂 I just worked on the song and the monologue lightly after that, knowing I wanted to keep that emotional connection raw.

So of course I went in there and couldn’t establish a connection at all. If I could have paused for about seven or 89 minutes mid-monologue, it would’ve been fine! But alas, alack, and Alaska, the show must go on.

Beforehand, I kept sliding back and forth between terrible nerves and a kind of steely calm. By the time I got in I was trembling all over. Fortunately both my audition pieces are intense, so the trembling worked in my favor!

The audition panel consisted of Mike Price (in whose talent I stand in awe), Randy White (in whose artistic abilities I stand in awe) and two other Cardinal Stage official-types that I’ve seen before but could not place. There was about 5 feet between me and them. I’d been expecting just Randy and maybe one other volunteer hanging out in the audience, with me 25 feet away on stage (this was at the MCPL auditorium). Let’s amp up that tension, shall we?? 🙂 

I did fine on the vocal side of Gethsemane but didn’t communicate the message as deeply as I wanted to. The monologue was the real heartbreaker, though, since I’d been able to play through the sobbing with Rich but had nary a tear in the audition. So while my mouth and body keep going, my brain is spinning at a zillion miles an hour, saying, “Remember, Rich said to just try to re-connect with that trigger” and “Should I fake the crying?” and so forth. Not conducive to calm delivery, but this sort of thing happens all the time in live performance. I thank all the people who taught me “the show must go on” in all its forms!

Talking with BryBry today, I realized it’s been about 23 years since my first “real” audition. Previous to that I auditioned all the time for school and community theatre, but my last high-pressure audition was at the IU music school. I had made the cut to get in, but this audition was with Robert Porco, head of the choral department.

I often think of that audition because he took the time to work with me. My audition piece was Care Selve, a gorgeous Italian aria. He had me go back and sing it again, this time singing the second half “as if you are singing to your beloved.” I knew immediately what he meant—my delivery had been technically flawless but emotionally void. I fell into the song and he nodded yes, yes. 

When we finished, he leaned hard on me to join The Singing Hoosiers (IU’s premiere choral group) but I had a class conflict that couldn’t be avoided. He kept at me again and again. I suppose it’s a sign of my idiocy that I couldn’t find a way to get where he thought I should go. The first of many “bad career moves” in the music school.

As I walked home today, my mind was racing with a deconstruction of every single note, word, and gesture from the audition. I just kept telling myself, “I did the best I could.” That was true. I wish I could’ve done better. But, as I told myself, the only way to get better is to do a lot more auditions! I had no idea until tonight that it had been as long as it had. No wonder I was a wreck!

All I want is to be good enough to make it into the chorus or to get a bit part. I know if I’m given a chance, I’ll get better from there. Each audition was one at a time so I have no idea how others did or how I stacked up. Since it was a general audition, I won’t even hear anything back from them regarding callbacks or rejections for some time. How’s that for I-Hate-Ambiguity Lass?? 🙂

I thank Brighid and Grandpa for sustaining me, and especially Rich for opening up whole new creative vistas! I pray for more opportunities—successful ones!


Capricorn pride

January 25, 2009

My 14-year-old niece (also a Capricorn) has joined the school drama club after I urged her to do so as part of her training to take over the world. The club recently held auditions for a play. My niece, surprisingly, did not try out for the lead. Instead, she went after a secondary part. Why? “Because it has the most lines.” That’s my girl. 🙂


The Music Man

November 22, 2008

Gracie Shinn. My first speaking role (age 12): “It’s the Wells Fargo wagon!” Main Square Players.

I vividly remember this audition. We were in a very long line at a fire station, shuffling slowly along as each kid/adult went to the center of the room and sang “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee.” I was at first perplexed and then disgusted with how quiet and breathy everyone seemed to be. Gregg, Chuckles, and other auditioners slowly sank in the heat, their eyelids drooping. By the time I hit my mark, I was filled with that hell-bent determination I associate with my childhood and I belted the tune right out of the park. Everybody shot straight upright and suddenly the air was abuzz. Everyone wanted to know my name, whether I played anything before, if I could dance…. All because I sang loudly. <– Note for aspiring Broadway players.