Today I embarked upon a journey to a place I'd long feared and dreaded:
Open Casting Call
*cue lightning and thunder. this blog has a lightning-and-thunder intern, right?*
As many of you know, this past year I've been putting myself back into the theatre game; sporadic singing lessons, experimental theatre, improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade (thanks in part to their incredible Diversity Program). This summer I started taking real auditions, and so far it's gone pretty well- the two auditions I took earlier this summer both asked me to the call-backs (which I couldn't do becuase of my inability to get out of music gigs- womp womp).
Unlike the other two productions, which were small and sweet and reasonable, this particular one I took today was a behemoth of epic proportions. This was the thing my theatre friends who had left the trade warned me about, one of the things that drove them away from the business.
Let's start with my complete ignorance about how things like this work. The auditions started at 10am, with sign-ups starting at 9:30am. It was a first-come first-served deal. I was thinking, "Oh, that means I can go whenever and I'll maybe have to wait an hour or so."
(Christ, I can hear theatre people laughing at my extreme naïveté already.)
So my lazy ass rolls up around 12:30pm, and the list is at over 400 people, and they were lining up #'s 90-100 to go auditon. Crap.
Fortunately, luck was on my side. As I was signing up to be #405 and wishing I'd brought an AeroBed® Luxury Collection Mattress Style Pillowtop Inflatable Bed with me to Pearl Studios, a girl came up to the table and offered me her spot in line because she had to go to work. So my lazy ass got bumped up from #405 to #257.
I found out later that the people in the 200's had been there since 8:00am. Holy Jesus.
Anyway, I had a lot of time to kill, so I did a lot of observing and listening. Here are some things I learned:
1) This is what the vast, vast majority of my fellow auditioners looked like:
"Look how white our thumbs are!"
Smiley, young, white kids. Cookie cutter theatre students, mostly there to get more audition experience. A few of the ones I heard talking were out of school and had agents. A bunch of the girls had big backpacks with tennis shoes and pants to change into for when they left to go do their other jobs (one girl sitting near me was a babysitter when she wasn't taking auditions). They all seemed to know each other, wether it was from seeing each other on the audition circuit or from school, I couldn't really tell.
There were some outliers from this Stock Photo Standard, of course- some older people, and a handful of black and asian dudes. But in the 3-hour window I spent in those studio hallways looking around, I didn't see one other woman of color auditioning for this show. I don't know why for sure this is, it's definitely a show where a lot of the roles could be any ethnicity. Of course, I have my cynical theories, but since I'm new at this game I'm going to refrain from stating them here.
2) Dancers' bodies are insane.
How are they so tall?! So tall.
There was a dance audition for The Producers and White Christmas across the hall from where my audition was, so I got to watch dozens upon dozens of lithe giraffes in character shoes and tap shoes mill into and out of their audition space. Some had outfits on that I could tell were an attempt to stand out from the crowd a little- I remember one polka dot halter top in particular- but overall I can't remember any faces, they all looked the same. I honestly don't know how audition comittees tell them apart.
Early on in my wait I was sitting on a bench next to a studio that was being rented out by a Baby Yoga-or-whatever class. The door was open as people were coming in with babies and getting them ready for class. In the 10-minute span that I sat there, pretty much every girl who passed did this exact same thing:
"Whoa, lady. Boundaries. Who even are you?"
4) 8 bars.
When you're faced with a hoard of young performers with stars in their eyes, and you're a nice person, you don't want to disappoint them. So instead of cutting off the numbers, about halfway through they day they cut the audition songs from 16 bars down to 8. They made this announcement right before my group was to line up.
It's hard to do a lot in 8 bars, but I understood why they did it. The auditions went by much more quickly after the cut (you might even say...twice as quickly? *pushes up nerd glasses*). My moment of truth came and went in a blur. I haven't thought about it too much since, because there literally isn't much to think about. There's a good chance I did nothing to pique their interest, especially that late in their day, but I also didn't suck.
All in all, it wasn't a tremendously horrible as I'd imagined it would be. I now know to go earlier. That's...really all I learned today. Hm.