Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Day's Worth of Drama

Today my friend tried out for a role in a play, and I went along for moral support. It was weird--I used to be somewhat of a theater nerd, so to see all these actors but not be one of them was kind of like going to a high school reunion; sure, it's nice to catch up, but you know you don't belong. And while auditioning for a role is one of the most frightening experiences you can have, sitting there watching others try out is relaxing. It's a strange sort of pleasure to watch other people put themselves on the line.

From what I saw and what I remember from high school, there are two types of people who audition. You really see it with the dancers. First you have the person who's nervous about her routine. While she's doing her splits and showing off her legs, she stares out into space, maybe looking at some point in the back of the auditorium. She's not thinking about anything in particular except what the next move is; she is entirely self-focused, and once her routine is over you see her jolt back into the moment, like she's just woken up. She'll maybe sheepishly smile or wipe her brow, and if you ask her how her audition went, she will tell you she thinks it went fine. The truth is that she doesn't really know because she wasn't really paying attention to how she appeared; she got through it, and that's all that counts.

Then you get the girl whose insecurities run deeper. She is entirely focused on the impression she gives--she really wants to impress the judges. She'll maintain eye contact with whichever of the judges she feels is most sympathetic to her cause, and even during her twirls, she's looking at that person. She is ambitious, perhaps to a fault. She'll look at that judge for some sign of amazement or admiration, but she won't get one, because the point of being judge is that you appear impartial the whole way through. That's what always bothered me the most about auditions; you really don't know what the judges thought until they post the cast list, and even then, it's a passive-aggressive way of letting you know how you did, like they didn't have the courage to say how you did in person. That may be an unfair assessment, but that piece of paper, that listing of who made the cut and who didn't, is so final and yet so unsatisfying. And this dancer is thinking about that piece of paper, to the point where she may mess up a step or two; after her routine, she'll watch nervously as the judges take notes, and she'll make a self-deprecating about something she did wrong, but you can tell it really bothered her. She will tell you exactly how she did on the audition; even if she says it went fine, you can tell her in eyes how happy she was with the performance. It is truly acting, on numerous levels.

I could tell that the main judge liked Danny, one of the male dancers. The way he was looking at Danny, staring through his clothes. And Danny had the perfect wardrobe, a tight-fitting t-shirt and a pair of compression shorts that were tiny enough to reveal some thigh but modest enough to leave the viewer wanting more. And that judge wanted more. I'm curious to find out what his part is in the show, for while he was admittedly cute and charming, his routing wasn't that impressive, at least compared to some of the steps I saw. I don't know if this is going to be one of those cases where the judge is hoping that a good role is payment for a future hookup, but I hope not, because that judge had to be in his thirties, and it was painfully obvious that he's done this sort of thing before--and failed, the series of failed come-ons having pushed back his hairline a couple of inches. He's the kind of guy who never quite made it in New York, who desires to be friends with all the kids but also wants to maintain an air of authority, to justify his otherwise unsatisfying suburban job. I think Danny's gonna get a sizable part.

As for my friend, she did well. She's not ready for a lead, but she'll probably get a part in the chorus. Thankfully, she's a good person, grateful for any opportunity and hardly ambitious. Emotionally she's an Ophelia, but in terms of talent she's a Player Queen. I think she knows that. After the audition we went to a diner, and I really felt East-Brunswick-ian. It was a nice feeling, though. It's nice to know that no matter what else changes in my life, auditions will always be nerve-wracking and the Seville Diner will always charge too much for bacon and eggs.

-Josh

1 comment:

nayoung said...

Really enjoyed this, Josh.

"Emotionally she's an Ophelia, but in terms of talent she's a Player Queen."

Great line.

I can't get enough of Seville's braised beef brisket.