A Different Sort of Audition, Part 1
Subway isn't operating as normal, see paper signs. Coastal flood and wind advisories to your phone. The new Yogi Bear movie and Tangled preview on screens in the street, watch where you're going, buddy. You're late because, ladies and gentlemen, we are delayed due to train signals ahead, please be patient.
I don't get signal to my smartphone in the subways, and I spend a lot of time riding them. So I put my library card to good use and start reading books. With so many Kindles around, I start to feel like I'm making some sort of statement. Though I'll occasionally check my email, which has synced above ground, to show I can conform. Makes people comfortable, I guess.
It was to a theater that was holding auditions for what looked like its full season, including a production of Hamlet. They'd liked my resume and headshot enough to call me in for an audition, one of three slots. There was a warning that this would not be a normal audition, but a rather strenuous experience for two hours, and that I should see the works of (insert several eastern european names here) for reference. It sounded like a pretentious method actors workout.
My only experience with method acting came from a Meisner teacher in Chicago whose only piece of advice for me throughout two full terms of classes was when she turned, looked at me, and, shaking her head slowly, said "Joel, I just.... I don't know. I just.... I don't know..." That was it.
So I was less than enthusiastic. The theater company only identified itself by an acronym.
I kept moving. Subway rides. Rehearsals. A couple shifts of work, easy well paying, but fleeting in the banquet serving business. The ads for the new Harry Potter movie look pretty good, I should really try to watch the sixth one so I can watch this new one. Pub trivia. Sounds like everything is okay back home on the west coast, as usual.
We hit rehearsal, just before our show. I'm sitting there on break with the director of the Michael Checkov Theater Company, and a Japanese actor. The actor asks the director if he'd ever taken classes with Michael Checkov. The director (confusingly enough named Michael) discussed the technique with us a bit. He described an interesting method where the actor makes these gestures for about ten minutes, and when he's done, the state that puts him in gives something to his character. It was an interesting concept.
Back to moving in the city. I wonder if the heaters I bought for my apartment will be enough for the winter. The costco tin of pesto's got mold in it, gross. Is there any other city in the world where, before the train even arrives, people walk to the part of the platform where they know they'll get off after boarding the train and arriving at their intended station? They call it "prewalking" here. Saves precious seconds.
I was reading a book on the train. It was about auditioning, and it was written by a veteran Broadway and Hollywood casting director. It had twelve "guideposts" to it, and I was noticing a theme among them. Mostly it had to do with making positive choices in character, finding more complexity than the text gives you. Maybe someone saying "I hate you" is actually in love with the person s/he's saying it to. We've seen that in the movies, right?
More subway rides, more email, calls, texts. I really need to do some laundry.
I look over the audition invitation again and was startled to notice one of the names of the method actors I'd basically ignored last time: Michael Checkov. For reference, see MichaelCheckov's work on the "Psychological Gesture." Just like we'd been talking about in rehearsal I call in and schedule myself for the 4-6pm audition slot.
Little did I know what I'd really just signed up for.
(To be continued, tomorrow...)