Friday, August 27, 2010

Imitating Orson Welles...

The auditions keep coming fast and furious, thank god.  One a day, minimum.  Love that.  Gotta love agents for that reason alone.

Yesterday, I read for The Colony Theater's upcoming production of Bell, Book and Candle as I mentioned in my earlier post.  It was a good read, I think, and unless the role is already cast (sometimes it is) I think there will probably be a call back at the very least.  It's a full Equity contract, of course, but not a great one, financially speaking. Nonetheless it's a nine week contract and covers health and pension.  Always good to have that.

I actually had some fun with this one.  More than I expected.  I didn't nail it until about two hours before the audition.  I always like to go into an audition situation with a "hook."  Something I can hang my hat on.  Something I can keep firmly in the forefront of my mind while auditioning.  Sometimes I can't find it and I just fly by the seat of my pants.  Those are the tricky auditions because my confidence is tested.  Yesterday was not one of those times.

The breakdowns included these words in the description, "a shambling, sloppy alcoholic...very intelligent...good heart."  As I've said before, I like to go in with an image in mind.  For this particular role I kept hearing, for some reason, a British accent.  Now, there's absolutely nothing in the script to indicate that.  Nonetheless, I kept hearing it.  Maybe it was the cadence in the script for this character.  But it didn't fit.  So I didn't want to add something that wasn't there.  Finally, about two hours before I left for the read, I zeroed in on the word "shambling."

Years ago I had an English professor, Contemporary American Short Story.  He was a big bear of a guy that sort of lumbered about while speaking in this booming yet halting cadence.  He sounded like I always thought Hemingway should've sounded (now I know Hemingway had kind of a high, squeeky voice...but at the time, I didn't know that).  So I started, here in the privacy of my office, imitating him.  The professor, that is.  And then I started saying the lines in that voice.  Suddenly, voila', there it was.  I had it.  I added a bit of befuddled drink to my thought pattern (not really a stretch for me) and out came this rhythm and voice I liked a lot.

The audition itself was at The Colony Theater in one of the rehearsal rooms upstairs.  I love that theater.  Angie and I had seen Jimmy Barbour do his Christmas Concert (wonderful) there last December and I remember remarking to her about my wanting to work on that stage someday.

There were only three of us waiting to audition.  Myself and two young, leading men types.  They were very nervous and kept pacing about and mouthing the words to their scenes.  I never do that.  I hate looking nervous at auditions.  Even if I am nervous.  I prefer to set the text aside and appear outwardly calm.  There were only three of us because this was agent submission only.  Which meant no cattle calls.  Finally, after a half hour or so I was called in and began reading opposite a young lady sitting in a chair saying all the other parts and lines.  I shut my eyes for a second and visualized this professor I'd had many years ago and started in.  It was a long scene, two full pages, and they didn't interrupt.  About halfway through a part of my brain suddenly realized I was doing a fairly decent impression of Orson Welles.  And what's more, it fit.

Now, I have no idea whatsoever if the guys on the other side of the table liked what I did.  After it was over it was the usual, "Good job, thank you, we'll call you, goodbye."  But that doesn't matter.  I knew I'd nailed it.  After about 10,000 auditions over a lifetime one starts to get a sixth sense about these things.  So unless they've already got someone in mind, which is entirely possible, I expect a call back.

Today I've downloaded a huge chunk of dialogue for an industrial to be shot in Virginia in a few weeks.  I'm not memorizing it (as if I could) but simply familiarizing myself with it.  It's a major chunk of money or otherwise I'd never do it.  Plus a few days in Virginia, travel, lodging, per diem, etc.  That's today at noon in Culver City.

Tomorrow I've got an interesting one, too.  It's a one day shoot of a new music video to be shot in Burbank.  I'm playing a "baker," gruff and tough-looking, who goes about his morning routine in the kitchen and suddenly looks up and sings "in an angelic voice."  Naturally, I'll be lip-syncing.  That's at four-thirty, but it's not far away from our house.

No idea what's in store next week audition-wise but I hope this pace continues.

Angie and I found a drive-in theater about twenty miles from us.  An actual, honest-to-god drive-in theater.  I have a buddy in Colorado and now and then he takes his family to a drive-in there.  I'm green with envy.  So finally I just went online and found one close to me.  Turns out it's really close and one of the only ones still open in Southern California.  So Angie contacted our friends Don and Donna and tomorrow night we're double-dating at the drive-in.  I'm very excited.  I haven't been to a drive-in theatre in thirty years.  I'm thinking about getting in the trunk and sneaking in just for nostalgia's sake.

I'm having a wonderful time these days.  "For all it's drudgery and sham, it's still a beautiful world.  Strive to be happy."  Those are two of the last lines from one of my very favorite pieces of writing called Desiderada.  It IS a beautiful world.  And we can strive to be happy.  Even when our brain is crowded with memories of unhappiness, it's still possible to fit a moment of happiness in there somewhere.  One thing about's almost impossible to stay unhappy around her for too long.  She simply won't allow it.  Damn woman.

See you tomorrow.