How To Get An International Tour: The Spontaneous Method
Since my first (and last) post on Unscripted, I was broke, I lost my job, my grandmother passed away, I was cast in 's production of The Lark five days before opening night, I ran another successful One Act Festival, and I took the next big step in my career.
Over two months ago now, I auditioned for a role in the Disney Live! production of Winnie the Pooh, scheduled to tour in China, Russia, and Japan for a year. The part: A role as one of a trio of comedic relief acrobats and jugglers. The problem: I don't know how to do any of that!
Honestly, I went into this audition just like any other; but I was not prepared in the slightest and was more nervous than I have ever been. Like I said, they were looking for comedic acrobats and jugglers to fill this position, so I suppose you can tack on "not what they are looking for" to my Bad Spontaneous Audition Checklist.
We were asked to prepare a one minute monologue and a demonstration of our skills. Back in High School, I always did Bottom's monologue from A Midsummer Night's Dreamwhen he portrays Pyramus' death. I hadn't done that piece for over three years since I came to college and had nearly forgotten about it. As far as the juggling demonstration, I decided to bring along my twister balloons to show them how savvy I am with my hands. I have been twisting balloon sculptures for nearly four years now.
At the audition there aren't many people, but those that are there busy themselves with juggling objects and warm up their bodies with some back flips. What was I thinking? I am so going to embarrass the hell out of myself. To add insult to injury, I begin making some balloon animals while I wait so I have something to hand them when I walk in. That received plenty of attention and a few snickers from the other auditioners. Right when I was trying to figure out just how quickly I could actually run, my number was called.
I must have been a sight. In my arms is a small mountain of balloon shapes and around my waist is a balloon sword holder, complete with a balloon sword (in preparation for my monologue). I would have laughed at myself if I wasn't shaking more than the San Andreas Fault. I only wished that was the auditioners' first reaction.
Instead, I walked into a room of complete and utter silence mixed with that lovely splash of awkwardness. No doubt they didn't know what to say to this tall, surely childish student whose face was covered by a balloon giraffe. I broke the ice: "Before we start, I just want to clarify that I cannot juggle nor can I do any acrobatics. But I am quite funny and I am quite good with my hands." I gesticulate with the balloon colony in my arms. "By the way, I made one for each of you."
Silence. Then a huge burst of laughter and smiles all around. Thank God! I then handed a balloon sculpture to each of them. I made a variety of hats, animals, and bracelets for them to admire. To my surprise, they were ecstatic with the odd gifts. After a few minutes of light chat and laughter, they asked me to present the monologue I had prepared. I warn them first: "Okay. I chose a Shakespeare monologue, but I don't want you to think I am 'Shakespeare Man' or anything. It is from A Midsummer Night's Dream. I hope you are familiar with the monologue so I don't look too ridiculous."
Another chuckle all around and a gesture to begin. Here goes nothing. "Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams..." I continue with my over-exaggerated portrayal of Bottom, until I get to the stabbing; my balloon sword pops! Oh no! Well, surely I can't stop! I continue as if that was planned and they laugh with joy to see that I wasn't fazed by the setback. Unfortunately, I always stab myself a second time when Bottom finally decides to die. So, at the proper moment I gather all the balloon shards and rub them all over my chest in lieu of another overly dramatic stab.
It killed! To make a long story short, I ended up spending nearly a half hour in that room. We tried the monologue a few different ways and threw an improved pantomime into the mix. I have never had a better time at any audition. It still makes me smile when I think of it.
We finish the audition. After some more great laughs and chatter, one of the auditoners thanks me for my time: "Thank you for coming in. We all enjoyed it very much. Not what we are looking for in this role, but thanks for the laughs." Ditto! I don't think I could really take the plunge into a year-long international tour, leaving behind my relationship, school, friends, and family for a year!
I would prove myself wrong two months later when I get a call from a strange number. "Hi Nathaniel. We would like to offer you the role you auditioned for in our International Tour of Winnie the Pooh." I didn't know you could trip sitting down, but somehow I managed. While I was on the floor speechless, the kind voice from the strange number continued to talk contracts and schedules with me. I had to come back to reality.
"Wait a minute. Im sorry. Do you have the right number?" I say in a high squeaky voice.
"This is Nathaniel Beaver, correct?"
A pause as I confirm that is indeed my name, "Yes. Were you in the audition room?"
"Yes I was! You were funny as hell!" She laughs.
"Yeah!" Uncomfortable laughter, "Do you recall me telling you I don't know how to do any of the things required for this role?"
"I thought you might say that."
!!! Thought I might? Of course! That is the only question in my mind at the moment, besides the thought that this may be a prank call from one of my friends.
"Look. It is very strange for us to offer a role to anyone who does not have a passport, and who does not have the skills we are looking for."
Im waiting for the 'but'.
There it is!
"But we thought you were so funny and friendly that we decided to make an exception."
I don't know if I was the first on their list or the last, but none of that really matters when you are looking at your first professional contract on the computer screen. We continue to discuss details of the contract while my head spins faster than a top.
So what is the lesson here? When Opportunity presents itself, go for it. Your disadvantages don't count for much if you believe in yourself.
And that's where I am at now. About to embark on an international tour and a new chapter in my life. I cannot express the gratitude I feel to all the people at Feld Entertainment for giving me this Opportunity.
Next stop: Nanjing, China!-- Nathaniel Beaver