Thursday, July 3, 2008

Life in Purgatory/Batter up.

It is a long hall full of lost souls. They shuffle about aimlessly, back and forth, never going anywhere. A constant stream of mumblings are barely heard from each of them. The mumblings are not random, but a continuous loop of snippets of dialogue. Eventually, each of them is called in for judgment by a higher power. For most, they will be banished to an outer ring of hell. For the most select few, salvation.

Purgatory? Nope, casting office.

Today I auditioned for a TV show. to be honest, I haven't decided how much I can/will divulge about the specifics of each audition as it may someday come back to bite me in the ass. Suffice it to say that if I told you who I was auditioning for, there would be some pretty Mad Men stomping around. See what I did there?

Anyway, the first thing I want to talk about is the Actor Shuffle. This is the little two-step that a lot of actors (myself included) perform while we're waiting to audition. We pace about, running our lines in our heads or out of our mouths at a constant pace. The lines are almost a mantra, a chant to ward off the evil spirits of dropped lines or mispronunciation. They are the practice swing golfers take before they cut loose on the fairway, the one last analysis to gain insight. Those who do not shuffle sit on chairs or the ground, hoping to in turn ground themselves before they are summoned. The audition can be a one shot deal - blow that first read and you may not get a second chance - so everything is invested in the pregame workout.

I was one of those shufflers today, waiting for my chance. I had been to this casting office many times before and this show once before, so the nerves were not overwhelming. The role was mid-sized, about six lines spread over two pages...something they call "One Day Guest Star". A few years ago it would have been called a Day Player, but I'll take the bump in respect from the arbitrary title. I felt good about the role and my approach but still did the dance out of habit.

Turns out my read was pretty good, maybe too good. As I'm leaving the executive producer and director start to chat. I hear a "Why not?" and then the casting director calls me back in. they ask me to take a look at another role. I agree. Dumb move.

Here's why. Okay, they liked my read enough to consider me for another role. So in some way I hit it out of the park, a home run to fit the baseball analogy. Now I have the uphill battle of getting a brand new script, analyzing it, making strong choices, being as off book as I can and then presenting it to people who know the role far better than I do. All in 15 minutes. I'm pinch-hitting and the bat is a broomstick.

So I did the audition and did pretty well, considering. I'd give myself a solid triple. Now a triple is wonderful, but for those who just saw you hit it out of the park, not so much. Suddenly, you're not as great as they thought, certainly not for this new role. As far as the old role, well they already earmarked it for the second best guy who read. the guy who hit the triple in that role.

I tried my best to escape before they asked me to read, but I didn't make it. Once, a casting director chased me down the backlot, shouting my name. At first I pretended to not hear her, but eventually I had to turn to her sweaty but beaming face asking me, "Could you read another part?" I still haven't come up with a good enough excuse to get out of the alternate role but not look like a jerk. So my best bet is to get the Hell out of there before the casting bomb does me in.

Happy 4th of July, Americans.

1 comment:

headspin said...

I know a lot about the "Batter Up" concept by playing music before numerous audiences. Most of the time it is the boring routine of the batting cage, but once in a while, when someone say's, "That song brought a tear to my eye.", then I know I've stepped up to plate, and knocked it out of the park!