A story in time stamps and terrible titles. Feel free to ignore if you’re not into the nitty gritty of auditioning.
3:40pm– Work, then Play
I send a final email, and slightly guiltily, push off from my desk at work and walk determinedly towards the subway, quickly catching the A to 42nd. I feel a little queasy, a little lightheaded– a kind of nervous I haven’t felt in a while.
4:15pm– Ripley’s Believe it or Not
At Ripley-Grier, I aim straight for the bathrooms, dodging stretching dancers and vocalists, where I strip off my sweater and jeans and pull on shorts and a checked top. 15 year old trailer trash in Florida– check. I start to leave the bathroom, then, glancing side to side to make sure I’m alone, scrawl “I AM ENOUGH” on my thigh under my shorts. On my way out of the bathroom, I nearly run into the director I’m auditioning for, and he pulls me in for a hug. Good first sign– I try and let that settle.
I find the room, 16N, and take a seat. My heart leaps to my throat. Sitting next to me is a woman I recognize– who I’ve seen twice off-Broadway, has a great agent and her Equity card, and for my money, is a “sure thing.” Next to her is a girl I faintly recognize from the second callback. To her right is a girl I certainly recognize– flaming red hair and a round, girlish face. We reintroduce ourselves, smiling. There’s another girl on the floor in the corner. I recognize her. My brain scans until I hit upon it– she played this role in three previous workshops. I found her name while googling the play. She seems to be best friends with the other actors there for different parts, who I can only assume My face flushes. I’m fairly sure it’s all over. I try to breathe.
4:45pm– First Read
I’m brought into the room. The director seems flustered– three girls have already been in the room once. I read the first side, the one I read the first day and then again in the second callback. He asks me to sit in the chair instead of on the floor. I oblige. He sends me out of the room immediately after, bringing someone else in. When he ushers me in again, it’s with another actor, an older man. He begins to speak. It’s not the side I have. They haven’t given me this one. They quickly hand it to me and usher me off.
5:35pm– A New Room
Four of five girls, plus actors for other characters, move onto the next room, across the hall. More various pairings happen, other actors for other characters go in to read. I read the new scene with an older man– it goes fine. He’s an “original,” and he’s good. Then I read the first scene again, with another actor. The director comes outside to give me some feedback.
“I know it’s so hard to have to do it over and over and try new things, but I liked what you’d did when she was simpler, less bratty. Find the humor though.”
The director comes out the room and pulls aside the girl who’d played the part before, saying, “Can we talk for a second?” They talk for five or so minutes, and when she comes back, she starts packing her stuff to leave. I overhear her telling another “original” cast member, “They aged me out.” There are three girls left. For a moment… I think it might happen.
6:45pm– Sent Home
Another girl, the readhead, is sent home. She has to go all the way back to Philly. They bring me in to read the first scene again, with a different actor. I read with an actress, the “original,” and when I finish to and leave to let her do her monologue, there are no more girls. They have sent everyone else home. My heart is beating hard and fast, my face is flushed… I think I may have gotten this part.
7:30pm– A New Room
We move to yet another room, not too far from our previous one, just down the hall. There are two actresses for the “mother” role, and me. The director stops me in the hall.
“Hey! Can you take your hair down so I can see it? How would you do it, like, if you were going out? Great, great. So, where do you live? Manhattan, great. Your family? Oh right, your family’s out West. Are you done with school? Oh, right, and you didn’t know Laila right? What’s the name of your school’s designer? Lights and set? Yeah, Chad, I’ve worked with him before. He’s very talented. Thanks for being a trooper tonight. Yeah, I mean obviously we see something we like, right? Okay, see you in there.”
8:00pm– “Yes, Ma’am”
I read with the final two “mothers,” the same scene. After the second scene, I go back and sit outside to wait for her to finish so I can go in and do my final monologue. When she comes out, she grins at me, laughing.
“They asked me if I’d die my hair blonde. What’s the right answer to that question?”
8:10pm– Final Moments
I’m good at the monologue. I ace it. When I finish, the director smiles at me, the reader winks, and the artistic director glows.
“Okay, again, thanks for being such a trooper tonight. It’s a long night. I’ll call you.”
I go home.
5:30am– Early Riser
My alarm goes off. I want to die. I hop the 7:14 NJ Transit to Princeton. I’m picked up with a number of other actors to be bussed to a high school in NJ, where we’ll be working with the McCarter on readings of student plays. It’s fun. An actor and I flirt. He’s front New Jersey, so that’s where it ends. The kids seem inspired and their inspiration inspires me.
3:56pm– Back to the Big Apple
They’ve bussed us back to Princeton Station, and we board NJ Transit back to the city. Everyone’s exhausted, and I’m nervous and kind of want to be alone. But now that we “know” each other from the day, we have to be “social.”
Arrival in NYC. I give one hug and say a polite farewell to the rest. I run towards the exit at Penn Station and grab a cab as fast as I can to catch my train out of Grand Central. It’s slow work at 5pm in midtown on a Wednesday. We make it, though.
5:40pm– Keeping on Up
After consulting with a train conductor and finding a bathroom, I ensure I’m boarding the express train towards White Plains for my callback for Bloody Bloody. I don’t have time to get more food (I’m huuuungry), but I do grab a Sprite Zero for energy and thirst. On the train, I fix my makeup, brush my hair, and change into leggings and a red checked dress in the MetroNorth bathroom. The train’s only about 30 minutes, and once I reach White Plains, I’m bolting towards the callback.
6:25pm– Pumping Bloody Bloody
I’m not late, thank god, and of course they’re running late so it’s fine. I see R, tell her a bit about my day. I put on my character shoes. The nitty gritty of this audition is not the point– as R said to me on the way home, it was “something…” We dance (short simple combo, beyond easy), improv rocking out, and show off some tricks. I try to look as edgy as possible. After dancing, we all are to sing. I’m glancing over my sides when…
I get a phone message from the artistic director of NJ Rep, where I auditioned yesterday. She asks me to call her back. At this moment, as I’m literally swearing to myself, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” they call all the girls in to work on the music. We sing it a few times together. Then, to my horror, we are all asked to stay in the room and sing one at a time. My own personal hell. Luckily I’m a really good actor, the song was not hard, and at this point all I can think about is my phone in the other room so I couldn’t give a fucking shit about this non-paid, non-union gig right now. It goes fine. When everyone has sung, finally, they release us.
I call her back.
I’ve been offered the role.
It’s arguably the lead-iest role in an ensemble play, a world premiere.
I will be paid, housed on the Jersey shore, and receive health+pension.
I will start rehearsals May 21. The play runs approximately June 14-July 22.
I will be able to get my Actors’ Equity card at the end of the run, if I want it.
My career just changed. I am now, according to all official definitions of the word, a professional actor.
I AM FREAKING OUT.
(ignore all info for the below poster– it’s not correct. But it’s happening….)