January 16, 2010

"For Robbing the Dead" and "42nd Street" Disappointing Audition Experiences

I'm first and foremost an actor. Despite most of this blog showcasing my exploits in video production I am and always will be an actor.

That being said in the month of January I had two major audition opportunities for large projects. The first was an independent feature film entitled "For Robbing The Dead." The film was given SAG status and Aaron Eckhart was slated for the lead role. I auditioned for a character called Wood Reynolds who's a bit of a cowboy and required a southern/frontier accent. I studied the accent for about a week before the audition using Robert Blumenfeld's "Accents: A Manual for Actors" and listening to Robert perform the accents on his CD. On the day of the audition, I went in, read the part and was told "very good work today" by the director. This made me feel good.

A few weeks later my Agency called to announce that I had been called back for the role of Wood and that I was the only actor from the Agency who was called back for any role! This made me feel even better and I set off to memorize the script I had previously auditioned for. This time I made a some more apparent character choices and attempted to refine my accent further. By the time I had arrived for the callback I was feeling very confident.

Things changed however as I entered the room. First of all, the callback wasn't done standing up like the audition was. I was to be seated in a chair with the camera aimed at my face and not at my whole body. This made me nervous because I'm such a theatre person and therefore the standing and moving audition that I had first done was much more preferable. However I performed the scene and did a pretty good job while seated. Unfortunately the director informed me that I had made the wrong character choice and instead of playing the role angry and betrayed as I had practiced, I now needed to play it frightened.

If I may now share a quote from my acting teacher Mark Fossen: "If you're acting and you suddenly forget your lines, chances are you're doing something right."

In other words, focusing on your character causes you to lose your lines, which is exactly what happened as I performed the scene with this new emotion. As I thought in my head about how I became frightened and how it affected me differently than being angry, I missed my second to last line and ruined the rhythm of the scene. I was told "good job" by the director and I left. Haven't heard from them since and I never will.

My second audition experience comes from a desire to perform "42nd Street" at Pioneer Theatre Company. Six weeks ago I couldn't sing at all but thanks to David Schmidt from GottaSing vocal studios I was in shape and ready to nail the audition. I went to tap class with Janet Grey as much as possible in the weeks leading to the audition, and doubled up on voice lessons for two weeks in a row in order to get my song perfect. I have never prepared this much for an audition in my entire life, but then again, I have never wanted to be in a show so bad.

"42nd Street" is my dream show because it features lots of tap dancing, a skill of which I have a surplus of experience. I was determined to make it the best audition ever. I walked in as confident as ever with my song in a black binder for the pianist and my resume clearly demonstrating my dance experience. I sang "Stairway to Paradise" in the best possible way and was expecting to be released from the audition room when the choreographer asked if I could demonstrate a few tap steps. I did a time step and then transitioned into some rhythmic improv, none of which were very good because I was dancing in my sneakers. I recounted some of my dance background and left the room with three smiling judges.

I told everyone about how good I felt and how I would be surprised if I wasn't called back. To make a long story short however, I wasn't called back. I have no idea why but I guess I didn't fit into their idea of the show somehow. I have never been more disappointed in a director's decision not to cast me simply because I have never worked so hard for an audition and as far as I can see I did nothing wrong. Such is the nature of the business however. I may never get another shot at "42nd Street" and if I do, I may not be in a position to pursue it anyway. I know I did my best and all that cliché B.S. but it doesn't make it hurt any less. In fact it makes it worse because there exists no reason in my mind why I wouldn't have been called back, and now my six weeks of intense preparation seem like a waste of time and money. It's going to take a while to recover from this one, especially because I'll never know what decision was made to not make my phone ring at all last night...

This is not the end however. This is just the beginning. There will be many more auditions like this one and yet there will be many more that turn out well. The only thing to do is try harder, do better, be wanted. Perhaps this is a minor setback in the coming age of Connor, but it is by no means an end.

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