I’m sitting in the Actor’s Equity Audition Center waiting for my 12:10 audition. It’s my first professional audition in 20 years and I have no idea why I’m here. I’m trying not to psyche myself out and just think of this as practice. A learning experience. Everyone around me is so much more “Professional Actor-y” My resume is ancient and not particularly impressive. I have no representation. I’m an actor who sings listening to the auditions of serious kick-ass singers. And I forgot to change AEA•SAG•AFTRA to AEA•SAG-AFTRA. WTF do I think I’m doing here?!?! I can hear them snickering already. I am well aware that I have a certain something, but I don’t know how to show it in 2 minutes or less. The politics of this game with so few winners is so hard for me. It’s true I am feeling a certain amount of pressure from the compliments of well-meaning loved ones. “You need to be doing this!” “You don’t belong at your day job!”. “You could totally make it on Broadway!” And maybe they’re right. But I don’t have a clue how to make the people on the other side of the table see that. The actors around me have a full time job. Being an actor. I don’t have the luxury of doing that. Or maybe I just don’t have the commitment to living that gypsy life. Waiting tables, or working a temp job so I can go on the hundreds of auditions it will take to get one job. Taking classes, vocal coaching, showcases. Would I love to act and make a living at it? Of course. Who wouldn’t? Do I want it enough? Maybe not. Am I being a coward when I say I don’t see how that’s ever going to happen in my current situation? Or am I being realistic? Excuses or reality? Or maybe I’m just succumbing to the monkey chatter ever present in my head. I am here today to do something I hate, to face my fears, to see whether I hate it solely because I’m scared, or whether I hate it just because I hate it. Whether it is a dream to be pursued 24/7 or something I can step in and out of for the sheer joy of it. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Maybe not to being an ACTOR, but to being a better me.
Comedy/Tragedy Masks Prototype 2
Commissioned by Annette Ferrieri
I’ve been living in a bit of a bubble for a couple of months. I had the opportunity to dust off my character shoes and my grey hair spray for a production of Bye Bye Birdie. To say I was resistant to getting involved is an understatement. I had not set foot onstage in 20 years, and if I wasn’t confident then, I was even less so now. My voice was rusty, my headshot was 22 years old and I was downright terrified. There was no way in Hell I was setting myself up for that kind of failure. And I hated Bye Bye Birdie. Yeah, that’s it. That’s why I didn’t want to do it. I loathe Bye Bye Birdie. My sister-in-law, Janie whom I met in the MFA Theatre program at Pitt, was stage-managing and she kept pointing out how great it would be to work together again after all this time. I wavered back and forth, always coming back to no. No. There are so many reasons I can’t do this. No. Until I realized that I was just scared. Scared I didn’t have it anymore. Scared I never had it. Scared of rejection, failure, all the things that made me walk away from the business 20 years ago. So I said Yes. Yes, I will audition. I don’t have to do anything more. Yes, I will try. Yes. And I beat out 6 other biddies for the part. And I got up there on my somewhat wobbly stage legs and I chewed up the scenery and I smiled and glowed and basked in the praise and I had the time of my life. And now….? What happens now? I’m still terrified. Maybe more so than before. When the dream was just the past, it was easy to look back with regret and sigh, “if only…”. With every word of praise, “you need to keep doing this”, “you’re amazing”, “This is what you should be doing”, I feel more pressured and more defensive. Like everything I’ve done for 20 years is really just marking time until I do what I’m supposed to be doing. And maybe that’s true. But maybe it’s not. I’m no different than others who have dreams, but can’t seem to figure out how to make them real. But it doesn’t mean the life I have lived so far is just what happened until my real life starts. It’s what has made me who I am, someone who might be ready to pursue the dreams. It’s like Pandora’s Box. They’re out there. They can’t be put back in the box. The dreams are loose. Do I have the heart to follow them?
Buttoned-Up Heart Earrings