I hate auditions. You don't know what the script is about or who the people are, yet you have to act as if you'd like nothing better than to work with them on their project. NYou deny gut feelings in order to show them you're professional, talented, lovable. You kowtow and kiss ass, and all the while your inner self is screaming that the dialogue really bites.
I like trees. Trees never ask anything of you. Certainly not that you sing or dance. I'm stalling on my way to an audition for Timex, lulled by the red and gold leaves of autumn.
I'm tempted to just stay here in the park and forget about the audition. But trees are not very good at handing out paycheques, and if I don't go, my name will be mud. A casting agent once said to me, "The only reason not to show for an audition is that you're dead.'
At the start of my career in show biz, I did a lot of street theatre, playing the sidekick clown to my friend, a trained mime. I wore black velvet and whiteface and it usually took two double scotches just to get me out there.
Not a trained mime, I worried about being spotted by the professionals -- you know, those theatre folk who mostly earn their living indoors.
I was afraid they'd see me on the street, a fool without even a fool's skill, and then point me out at auditions and say, "Weren't you that drunken clown in Yorkville last summer?'
No one ever said that. Instead, I got offered the lead in a production of Hamlet. Trouble was, they turned out to be a Marxist theatre group and I was required to recite the Communist Manifesto instead of "To be or not to be.'
Commie clown After that flop, I was concerned that the pros would pick me out at auditions like a criminal in a lineup and ask, "Weren't you that commie clown who played Hamlet last season?' No one ever said that either.
This Timex thing will pay well if I get the part, so I'd better get moving. Glancing up at the clock on St. James Cathedral, I realize my audition is in five minutes!
I race through the Eaton Centre, with its fluorescent lights and visual overload, its roaring white noise and heavy perfumes that hang in the air like stale parties. I struggle for breath... for fresh air... I can't breathe... I'm going to die right here... right here where Timothy Eaton's left foot used to be.
"The only reason not to make it to an audition is that you're dead.' I should have known it would end like this. On my way to a bloody audition.
But wait. This could be one of those rare fun/creative auditions like that Crash Test Dummies video I auditioned for a few years back. I'd dressed for that one in tailored pants and a silk shirt, my agent having neglected to tell me exactly what the part called for.
But when I got to the production house, the casting agent wagged a long Scream Red fingernail in my face and shrieked, "You don't look like a mother!'
Ironically, my eight-year-old son was with me (my babysitter had cancelled at the last minute). I don't think the casting agent liked that either. My boy waited quietly in the lobby while the casting agent thoroughly chewed me out for my appearance, finally suggesting I tie my hair back (a mother thing). Not having an elastic band on hand (such a bad mother!), I was shit out of luck.
I got the part.
The director of the video was a true artist who got involved in the process right from the audition straight on through the shoot, extracting nothing but the best from his actors. He gave me a big hug when the shoot was over.
I arrive at my Timex call a few minutes late, but, as usual, they aren't ready for me anyway. Hurry up and wait. At least it isn't like one of those go-sees where dozens of people line up to fill out a form and have their Polaroid taken, and are then told to stand in another lineup.
At a go-see the operative word should be "go.' If you really did "see' past your star-struck spectacles to the spectacle of all these cattle wearing too much makeup, you'd turn around and make a beeline for the door. Go!
Really nervous I'm really nervous now, and to calm myself I'm thinking about fire. Some people stock up on candles in case of a power failure in the house. I stock up on candles in case of a power failure in me. Most post-audition evenings are five- or 10-candle nights, but since moving a month ago into a house with a fireplace, I can create 100-candlepower with just a few logs.
Nerve-racking as it is, the audition goes well.
Late at night, kids in bed, I put another log on the fire to revive the dying embers. I clear toys, books and games from the floor and make myself a place with blanket and pillow. I then fall into a trance staring at the dancing blaze. Dazed and fractured, one of the walking wounded, actor and single mother, slowly I become whole again.
Relaxing with the warmth and crackle, my mind drifts. I plan a production of Hamlet to be mounted in some park next summer, with all the actors perched in the branches of an oak tree or peering out from behind maple leaves or soliloquizing under weeping willows.
I like trees.