Sunday, February 6, 2011

A (Partially) Different Kind of Audition

Yesterday and Friday were the auditions for QMUL's New Writer's Festival... which means that people- actual, willing participants who most likely can act- were auditioning for my two short plays.

I was actually at the auditions as an actor, but as a writer, it was pretty exciting too. Since almost no one in the drama company knows me, no one attached the writer name to me, and I got to hear people explain and discuss my pieces while remaining essentially invisible. And everyone who read them seemed to like them- they pronounced both "really funny," which was nice to hear, since that is the aim of the pieces.
As I said before, they asked me a few times if I wanted to direct and I said no. Now I see why they asked me so many times- almost everyone else is directing their own pieces, so they must have thought I was really weird. But even in hindsight, I think I made the right choice. I've calmed down since my directorial debut in third grade, but not by much.

I auditioned for my pieces as well as the six others that were chosen. The shorter one of mine, the one based off the dinner I had with my lovely friend Kara, her mother, and her grandmother, is being directed by a guy who has some pretty cool ideas about it, which he explained to me when he found out that I was the playwright. I'm pretty excited to see it played out- it's going to be even funnier than I wrote it!
When you went into these auditions, you wrote your name down or, more likely, they asked you and wrote it down themselves, probably to put a name with a face. So when I went into my second one, they said, "Name?" I could see mine glaring out of the byline that the girl had right in front of her, so I said, "Rachel." "Rachel what?" I practically whispered my last name, and she went, "Oh... oh, you're the writer. Wow. Okay... well, now I'm nervous." I told her not to be, that the reason I had submitted them was so they could be played with and to help me improve them. She seems pretty excited about it, and she's pretty much just keeping it how I wrote it- no fancy sets or crowds of people. I think both of these directors are going to be great.

The most interesting thing about watching my pieces be auditioned for was seeing how the humor carried over into an English setting. I didn't realise how many little Americanisms there were in my pieces until they were being performed in English accents. Besides one character saying "Mom" a few times, I also make reference to Stephen Sondheim and Ginger Rogers in one of them. No one had any idea who either of those two were... which was a little surprising considering that Stephen Sondheim is pretty famous worldwide. In the other scene, I have one character call another a jerk, and I'm not sure if they use that word here, but hearing it with the accent was pretty funny. Thankfully, most of the humor seemed to carry over well.

I was a little worried about auditioning at all. They didn't mention until the meeting right before that instead of there being normal rehearsals for two weeks, there were only marathon, all-day rehearsals in Reading Week... but I already have plans with my friend Megan for most of that week, which have been planned for awhile now. I contemplated not auditioning at all, but the truth is, I am addicted to auditions. If there is one going on, I have to be there or I go crazy with the "what if"s. So I spent the next four hours getting really overheated in small rooms reading various scripts.
I thought I might wait to see if I was on any cast lists and then ask the director what the rehearsal schedule looked like, as I had also heard that not all of them required those marathon days. However, as much as I wanted to see if I was cast, that's a really crappy thing to do to a director, especially in the school setting when the casting is hard because everyone wants the same four people. So I sent them an e-mail saying that if the commitment really was as described, if they saw fit to pull me from any running I might be in, I understood. This kind of choice makes me think that maybe I'm not as selfish a workaholic as I tend to see myself most of the time.

I'm not sure if it was the e-mail or the fact that I wasn't right for any of the roles anyway, but I wasn't cast. While it always sucks not to be on a cast list, the fact is that that week is really full for me already. In addition to going on many adventures with Megan, I'm also going to see a show that I really want to see the weekend of performances, seeing my two pieces be performed the night before, hopefully sitting in on a rehearsal or two as a writer (if they'll let me), not to mention using reading week for that which it's actually intended- homework. Plus, since my pieces are in the festival, part of me is there anyway... even if people will think I'm incredibly morbid and only write about funerals :p

I remind myself that I did two shows last semester so I would feel fulfilled enough to not feel bad if I didn't get anything over here. That was the theory. However, I am me and of course I want a show... or five... while I'm here. The fact is that I probably won't get one, even if just because of the issue of time. Once March rolls around, the performances for anything that's auditioning will be too late for me to participate. It drives me crazy to not be auditioning constantly. However, I am in England, so I should probably shut up.

Stay tuned today for another entry on the London Chinese New Year celebration!


Anonymous said...

May I remind you that you have probably gotten to more auditions than any other student studying abroad would even attempt.


Rachel said...

This is true... but if it's also true that you're only as good as your next show, then I have nothin'. It's like school- if you don't get in a show at school, no one cares if you're doing on somewhere else. It's like it doesn't exist.

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