Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Productive Day

Yesterday was one of those days that a lot got done. Intentionally, or otherwise, a lot got done.

I like days like that.

I was up early, five-ish, so I could make what are known as 'the generals' at The Mark Taper Forum. Normally, I would never do a cattle call audition. I did enough of those in my NY days to last me a lifetime. Broadly speaking, they're kind of tough on the self-esteem. One lines up early in the morning to get a 'time slot.' And then one tries to find something to do to pass the time until that slot arrives. At least that's how it always was in New York.

Not so in Los Angeles I learned yesterday. If there were ever a specific moment at which to point to forever prove this is a film town and not a theatre town, yesterday was it. I had managed to cajole my friend John to join me for the auditions. My agent told me that The Forum has a long history of casting through their generals and, as I've mentioned, I don't exactly have a fan base out here. That is to say, I'm virtually unknown. It's not like the old days on the East Coast when I had gigs lined up a year in advance. It's a different ballgame now and I scramble for jobs just like anyone else. Working on the West Coast has been like starting over from scratch for me. It's like I'm 24 again sometimes and just starting out in NYC.

So John and I get there around 8 in the morning to sign up for a slot at 9. When we arrived there were three people in line. John's an old NY theatre veteran, too, so we were both a bit shocked, to say the least. Around ten till nine, a few more people showed up. Turns out, John and I got the numbers 2 and 3 slots, respectively.

The Mark Taper Forum and The Center Theatre Group are the big dogs in town when it comes to stage...The Geffen, Music Theatre West, Pasadena Playhouse, Reprise and a couple of others closely following. The Old Globe, too, if you count San Diego.

It was an actor's dream to actually get there, sign up, go in, audition and walk out, all before ten a.m. But that's what happened. I can remember standing in the rain for hours in NY waiting for a sign up slot. Hundreds of starving actors ahead of me even though I'd gotten there at six in the morning.


When we finished we had a hearty and terribly unhealthy breakfast in Burbank and then came back to my house. John wanted a website (he's throwing himself into his career these days after sort of a 'hiatus' of doing commercial work almost without exception for the last couple of years - highly lucrative but not so satistying). So I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon designing John's simple but classic website. Now, of course, I'm not a web designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I found a very user-friendly site that helps the uninitiated do it. So by 6pm, we had ourselves a very cool website which John will be posting within the next couple of days. Here's the temporary link:

During this time I finally got the word about a film audition I've been waiting to hear about. Plus the sides. That happens today at noon. Very exciting and one that my wife and I have been looking forward to. More on that as it pans out.

John stayed for dinner (a two hour, labor intensive 'Mexican Casserole' with everything in it except an actual Mexican). Angie is, quite possibly, the most talented chef I've ever run across and it was lip-smackin' good, this Mexican Casserole. Fortunately, she loves cooking. And she's really, really good at it. On more than one occasion I've opened the refrigerator door and exclaimed there was nothing to eat only to find myself sitting in front of a feast an hour later made with nothing but 'stuff' found in the kitchen.

Afterwards, in John's continuing 'attack the career' mindset, we designed his new business cards online and ordered them.

I love days where things get done. We seem to spend so many where things don't get done. And by 'we' I mean all of us. Sometimes it seems we're on this little hamster wheel, running full speed ahead and when we get off, we've nothing to show for it. I remember reading a passage in Marlon Brando's book, Songs My Mother Taught Me. Not a very good book, considering. But in it, every now and then, Brando would write something fascinating. In this particular passage he says, "As I look back I realize I could never have been successful at anything but acting. The reason is not because I think I'm talented or anything of that sort, but rather because I have an attention span of seven seconds. I've timed it. Seven seconds exactly. That's the longest I can stay excited about something. Which, of course, made me a perfect candidate to be a professional actor."

I know precisely how he felt.

See you tomorrow.