Saturday, February 26, 2011

Callbacks for Arclight Rep: Much Ado About Nothing

I felt very lucky to be invited to Arclight’s callbacks for "Much Ado About Nothing." I performed with them last year and was glad they felt confident enough in me to not make me audition again.

I had to squeeze my callback in between rehearsals. Luckily we get an hour lunch break in which I hoped would be enough time for them see me. Also luckily the callbacks were being held in the same building as my rehearsal.

As soon as I was free I booked it down the courtyard to the callback. There was a very sweet high school girl running as the stage manager for the callbacks. Elizabeth and David were watching the sides since David is going to be the director. And even though I was half an hour later then my time slot (which I did let them know about) they were also running behind. After checking in I was told they were out of sides for the scene I was supposed to cold read for. But then the stage manager realized that someone else hadn't shown up at all and suddenly I had my sides to work with.

I was asked to read both as Verges and Dogberry in Act 3, scene 5. I found my scene partners: Jim Johnson, who I worked with last year on "Taming of the Shrew" with, and Dee, who I'm pretty sure I auditioned with at Shady Shakes last year. Jim and Dee would also be reading for Dogberry, and Jim would as well read for Verges. We ran the scene a few times, each of us rotating in as different characters. When we felt comfortable with it we took a break and I talked/said hi to everyone I recognized/knew. I also “recognized” a few faces of people I’d seen at other auditions, and one gentleman I realized I had sat next to at the “Working” show. I also spoke briefly to a woman, Karina, who heard me talking about my upcoming K.P. audition. It turns out she also works for them. Small world people. I then went to talk to the stage manager about when I’d be seen. It turns out that when you were ready you were supposed to let her know so she could put your name on a list. No one told me and there were quite a few people ahead of me. I very politely asked if I could be bumped up on the list because I was under a time constraint. She nicely agreed. I did feel bad because by this time it was after 1 P.M. and some people who’d been there since 11A.M. still hadn’t been seen, but I was on a lunch break didn’t have all day. Also Dee was under a deadline, which I think helped get us in earlier as well.

At some point things were running so behind that David came out and apologized. Some actor’s seemed pretty peeved, border lined pissed at how late things were running. I wasn't annoyed because I was actually able to get my times bumped up and had already decided if they didn't have time to see me I was just going to leave when I had to. Honestly, if I had had the day free and spent hours waiting to been seen I wouldn't have been annoyed or surprised. This is same company that cast me sight unseen for Taming of the Shrew because they ran out of time to see me during both auditions and callbacks for that show. All in all, I actually like this company which is still in its start up stages. I just feel I have realistic expectation of how things are run.

Dee was seen first since she was playing as Dogberry in a different group. When she came out she basically said that we'd been playing Dogberry "wrong." David told her his concept for a female Dogberry which was to be more like Professor Trewlaney from "Harry Potter." Luckily I was familiar with the idea and started to make some adjustments. I was able to go in shortly after and we ran the scene with me playing Verges once and Dogberry once, switching in with Jim. David told me right away about how he envisioned a female Dogberry, confirming what Dee had said earlier. I asked him about his concept for this production and he told me it was taking place during the mission era of California. So Dogberry was supposed to very “earth mother/shamanistic” who’d maybe done a bit too much peyote. I gave it my best. When I switched to play Verges they asked Jim to play Dogberry as “Don Quixote” and Verges was his Sancho who tries to explain everything for Dogberry. I really like working with Jim. He’s hilarious. I thought we did pretty well.

David then asked me to look at Conrad in Act 1, scene 3 and a Dogberry monologue from Act 4, scene 2. I found my Don John scene partner and we ran it a few times and then I worked on my Dogberry monologue a bit, trying to channel Emma Thompson. And then I went back to the stage manager to let her know I was running out of time. She bumped me again, thankfully. I did my scene and was prepared to do the monologue but David said they’d seen enough. We thanked each other and I wished everyone I knew “good luck.” David also let me know when I left that there might be additional callbacks. I think they were concerned they weren't going to see everyone before the day ended. I booked it back to rehearsal and made it just on time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shady Shakespeare Update

Shady has actually been very prompt at getting back to me, which I really appreciate. It really is very hard for me to paitently wait to see if I’ve been cast.

So I wasn’t picked up for Shady this year. Yes, I’m a bit disappointed but not devasted like last year. I felt that I had siginifcatly improved over last year and that just as important to me as being cast. I managed to get called back, which is huge for me right now. Tony says that CSSSA told him if you manage to get 1 out of 5 callbacks you’re doing well in the “biz.”

I would at some point like to email the directors for feedback. I could certainly use some helpful criticism.

So now with Shady out of the picture this means I still have a partial summer to fill up. During the Shady auditions I was invited, by a close friend, to perform in a production of "Godspell, Jr." I asked if they could wait until I heard back about Shady, not something I would normally do. Luckily they agreed. Since their production doesn't start until June, I have a gap between April and then. I am hoping to be cast in Arclight Rep's production of "Much Ado About Nothing" which would take care of that gap, and hopefully kick off August with Kaiser. That would be so ideal. Here's hoping.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Callbacks for Shady Shakespeare

So after running a few errands this morning I finally settled in to watch my BBC version of Henry V. I spent a few miutes reading a Cliff Notes version of it as well as reading the Spark Notes. I managed to get through part way of Act 2, scene 3 before I ran out of time. I was also able to at least read the translation of the French scene between Katherine and Alice in Act 3, scene 4, and really hoped Larry (the director for Henry V) would be using a translation with French accents. I was mainly concerned with trying to figure out all the different characters in Henry V and which roles I'd most likely be asked to read for. As far as Midsummer went I was pretty sure I would be asked to read as a Mechanical and since I'm pretty familiar with the play I didn't waste my time trying to go over it (mostly because I was really crunched for time.) For Henry V I was aiming to read as either the Chorus (I already knew in advance this part was going to a woman), Alice, and possibly Hostess Quickly (although I thought this might be a stretch since I'm a bit young for the part).

Again I made sure to get the space early. I arrived while everyone had gone to lunch, except Larry. While I stretched I spent a bit of time catching up with him as well as discussing his plans for Henry V. He's decided he's going to keep the French, much to my dismay. Everyone started arriving not long after and we were all brought into the main room to given a briefing and sides. The AM crowd, which consisted of people reading for the Imaginary Invalid, was still finishing up. In the meanwhile, we were given our sides for Henry V to work on. My first piece was actually reading for Quickly in Act 2, scene 3. Luckily I had just seen this scene earlier and understood what was going on. I was paired with Tim (Nym), whom I've worked with before; Eric (Bardholph), whom I'm aquainted with from various Shady events; and Rich (Pistol), who I met for the first time today. As we ran the scene a couple of time I brought up whether we wanted to include actual kissing, as it's mentioned in the script. Ultimately, we decided yes. I'm actually ok with doing this for auditions provided everything is worked out in advance. I do not want someone sticking their tongue down my throat or groping me without having rehearsed it at least once. Luckily for me, Rick was a perfect gentleman.

After rehearsing a bit more we decided to take a break. I spent my downtime chatting with people I knew and introducing myself to a few new people. After some time we finally got in to do our scene. About a quarter through Quickly's speech Larry stopped me and gave me some adjustments. I can't say enough how much I appreciate this as an actress. I really hate going to a cold reading/callback, giving my interpretation and then being told "Ok, thanks." I'm always thinking, if my performance was way off from your interpretation tell me. Part of my job as an actress is being able to take direction. I have, on occasion, asked a director if they wanted me to try something different when I can see them making the "Hrm?" face. In this particular case I was told to make Quickly a bawdy, lusty wench not a member of the court. (My bad.) So I made an attempt to adjust. I can only hope I came through the second time around.

We were then told to hang out for a bit and then everyone would be called back in for more sides. After a few more minutes we all gathered around and were given sides for Midsummer. This time I would be reading as Snout in Act 1, scene 2. I actually was paired with lots of people I knew for this group. Since Snout only has one line, two if you're counting a unison line, I spent my time trying to connect with the other actors in the scene and just react to what was happening. I think we all worked really well together. When we went to perform they actually laughed, which I always consider a good sign. I was let go after my Midsummer reading.

And now is the waiting game. Overall, I was pretty please with the work I did. Could have done better? Always. Did I think I sucked/bombed it? Not at all. Having said that I don't have the highest expectations of getting cast. The competition was pretty cutthroat. They called back a lot of really good actors, most of which outweigh me in expereince and training. I'm hoping I'll hear back either way by the end of this week. In the meanwhile, I have scenes to work on for class, a Much Ado callback on Saturday, rehearsal, and my KP monologue to prep. I think I'll be able to keep myself busy enough this week.

Auditions for Week of 02/20/2011

Notes about audition postings: This is just a quick overview of info I've received on Bay Area auditions. For detailed information please subscribe to Theatre Bay Area or bayareatheatrebums. Please do not email me for more information.

General Auds
Auds 3/21, 3/24 & 3/26-27 Prep 2 monologues or 1 monologue & 1 song, 3 minutes total. Calls taken between 2/18-3/8. Call 650-463-7171, Leslie Martinson for appt.

Northside Theatre Company
Enchanted April
Auds 2/21-22 6:30p-8:30p. Prep 2 2 min contemp contrasting monologues. Call 408-388-7820 for appt.

Novato Theatre Company
Picasso at the Lapin Agile 
Auds 2/21 & 2/24 7p-9p. Cold reads. Call 707-763-6615 or email Jerrie Patterson for info.

Arclight Repertory Theatre
Much Ado About Nothing
Auds 2/21-22 7p-10p. Prep 1-2 min comedic Shakespearean mono and cold reads. Email HS/resume w/pref'd aud day to

Pleasanton Civic Arts Stage Company
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Auds 2/26 12p-5p. Call 415-865-4425 for appt.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Auditioning for Shady Shakespeare

I had planned on auditioning for Shady about sometime last year and started reading up on Henry V (because I've never read it) and picking a new monologue for my second piece. But when Kaiser's Education Theatre Program came along I thought I wouldn't be able to fit Shady into my schedule, and then I later learned that it could theoretically work, but by that point I couldn't request any time off from Bless Me, Ultima rehearsals. Fast forward to this past week and a last minute rehearsal cancel, led me to think "Why the hell not?" Unfortunately I had stopped prepping for the Shady auditions months ago and now had to cram a new monologue and play prep in 2 days.

This year Shady will be producing The Imaginary Invalid, Henry V and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I can't do Invalid because I'm going to be out of town during the run of the show. I'm very familiar with Midsummer, it's one of my favorite pieces, so I wasn't worried about cramming in a review session. However, I knew pretty much nothing of Henry V. I decided I wouldn't worry about a major cram session for it until I knew I was going to be called back. So I just focused all my energy into learning a new monologue.

Shady asked for 2 contrasting Shakespearean monologues no more than 2 minutes each. I knew for sure I would be doing Mariana from Measure for Measure. I had debated on doing Julia from Two Gentlemen of Verona, but I honestly didn't think I could get down just the way I wanted in time. So instead I opted for the Courtesan from The Comedy of Errors. (Both speeches that I used are from the book Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Women by Simon Dunmore.) I pretty much spent all of Friday trying to get the Courtesan speech down and working on characterization, but by the time my audition time slot rolled around I just didn't feel 100% confident in it.

To be honest, auditions just didn't go as well as I wanted. I managed to get to the space fairly early, and was even asked if I wanted to go early. I opted not to. I wanted to use what time I had to relax and work on my piece some more. Unfortunately I didn't take advantage of my time to really give myself a good physical and vocal warm-up. I was so busy trying to calm my nerves. I also tried distracting myself a bit by saying hi to a bunch of other auditioners I already knew. I rarely get to see these people outside of auditions, rehearsals and performances so it's kind of nice to catch up a bit.

The space was really echo-y. Even with the door to the room shut you could hear auditioners pieces down the hall. Including a woman who was a couple of people ahead of me doing the Julia piece I had contemplated. Glad I decided to go with the Courtesan. When it was finally time for me to go I actually relieved I knew everyone in the room. I like all these people and tried to make it feel like I was just talking to friends instead of auditioning. It helped, a bit. This also meant I didn't have to introduce myself, just let them know what pieces I'd be doing. I decided to do my Mariana speech first because it's my strongest. I had hoped it would help bolster my confidence and get me a bit more relaxed. I took my moment and a couple of breaths before launching into my first monologue. About a quarter of the way through my first piece I realized I was starting to go on autopilot a bit and just saying the words instead of actually trying to be in the moment. Luckily I found my focus again. Then came my second piece. Well...I didn't blow it, but I certainly didn't nail it either. Parts of lines just seem to disappear from my brain. I knew what my intention was so I just started saying things that sounded like the lines I wanted to say and I think transversed a few bits as well. Hey, at least I didn't freeze and just kept going. Since I was scrambling to get my lines correct I felt I lost a lot of the nuance and intention I had wanted to convey. My blurry recollection of the event tells me at least I didn't completely fuck things up. I finished up the piece, gave my thank yous, and then hung out in the hallway while I tried to stop my hands from shaking. I was pretty annoyed with myself and started in on the self-berating. However, my fiance and the rational part of my brain kept telling me that I had done ok. You can't keep beating yourself up over things you can no longer control, just focus on the next thing. In this case, waiting to hear about callbacks. We had been told we'd be notified either way later this evening. So I sat anxiously waiting by my phone and checking my email. Of course, it was until H4773r got his email that I shortly thereafter got mine. I got a callback! Since I'm pretty tired, I'm planning on going to bed early and then getting up early to start my Henry V prep.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Auditions for Week of 02/13/2011

Notes about audition postings: This is just a quick overview of info I've received on Bay Area auditions. For detailed information please subscribe to Theatre Bay Area or bayareatheatrebums. Please do not email me for more information.

Marin Shakespeare Company
Macbeth, Complete History of America (abridged), and The Tempest
Auds 2/11 10a-3p (AEA) & 2/12-13 10a-4p (non-AEA & AEA). Prep 2 contrasting monologues, 3 minutes total. Call (415) 499-4488 for appt.

Pacific Repertory Theatre
Auds 2/12 10a-2p & 2/13 10a-12p. Prep 1 modern monologue & up to 2 upbeat songs (2 minutes each; 1 song from show & 1 not from show). Call 831-622-0700 x100 for appt.

Douglas Morrisson Theatre
Rodgers & Hart: A Celebration
Auds 2/12-13 11a. Prep 1 Rodgers & Hart song. Email Michael Ryken for appt.

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley
Passion Play
Auds 2/13-14 7p-9p. Prep 2 minute narrative monologue (any genre, must show emotional shift). Email Actors Ensemble of Berkeley for appt.

Arclight Repertory Theatre
Sparklight One Act Festival
Auds 2/15-16 7p-10p. Cold read & prep 1-2 minute contemp monologue. Email HS/resume & pref'd aud day to Arclight Rep for appt.

Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre
The Sound of Music
Auds 2/19 11a & 2/21 7:30p. Prep 16-32 bars, bring music. Email Tri-Valley Rep for info.

Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company
A Midsummer Night's Dream & Henry V
Auds 2/19 11a-5p. Prep 1 monologue. Email Shady Shakes for appt.

General Auds
Auds 3/21, 3/24 & 3/26-27 Prep 2 monologues or 1 monologue & 1 song, 3 minutes total. Calls taken between 2/18-3/8. Call 650-463-7171, Leslie Martinson for appt.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: SJ Rep's "The Dresser"

Courtesy of SJ Rep

A touching drama about life, theatre and relationships during World War II. A small touring company is set to perform "King Lear" amidst a lead actor/theatre manager who is going senile and several bombings and air raid sirens. This play focuses heavily on Sir's relationship with his cast, especially his dresser, and his rapidly declining health.

This play is based on the real life story of Ronald Harwood, a dresser to Donald Wolfit, actor-manager in the 1930s. Dramaturg, Karen Altree Peimme, does a wonderful job of giving the history of this play in the playbill.

While this cast was a decent size, almost all of the acting falls upon Sir (Ken Ruta), Norman (James Carpenter) and Her Ladyship (Rachel Harker). It's quite some stamina for an actor to go nearly 3 hours performing with little to no breaks. Performances were outstanding all around. I think that Ruta did a great job as Sir by portraying a sincere fragility and confusion due to his condition. Carpenter was absolutely brilliant as Sir's caregiver and his heartbreaking situation in the end nearly had me in tears. Harker was wonderful as Sir's longtime lover and her expression of frustration with Sir in Act II was so genuine. Having been both a stage manager and pined after men who were clearly not interested in me romantically made it easy for me to fall in love with Madge (Lynne Soffer). Irene (Blythe Foster) as the ingenue was a perfectly cast. She did wonderfully as the fame hungry young actress, without being overly slutty. For some reason, Caperenter's portrayal of Norman really reminded me of Sheldon from the "Big Bang Theory". Perhaps it's that both characters have that same sort of knack for orderliness about things and objects. And while my SJSU boys didn't have a lot of stage time I still think they did a great job.
Courtesy of SJ Rep

I was incredibly impressed by the set design. I kept being distracted by the dressing room in the beginning. There was so much stuff crammed into one small room/set piece. I wished to be able to go down and explore it fully. And then when it's hauled offstage to reveal the rest of space, a magnificent replication of a backstage area, my jaw practically hit the floor. I loved the recreation. And I loved the use of space when the "actors" for "King Lear" played to an imaginary house at stage right. And the use of doubling the actual audience for the "King Lear" audience was great.

This is only my second time watching a show at the SJ Rep. Previously I had seen Lynn Redgrave perform in "The Bog of Cats" in 2001, so I didn't really remember much about the space. I honestly, as per usual, had no clue what this play was about or entailed. I just knew that some of my local theatre acquaintances were in this production. While I really enjoyed this show, it was...long. Very long. About the first 30 minutes or so it's just Norman and her Ladyship talking about Sir, what happened to him and his declining health. There isn't a lot of physical action or movement, although Norman does a great job of being so flamboyant and a wonderful storyteller I didn't feel too much like spacing out. I had gone as a chaperon for Leigh High School and I have to say this show just wasn't appropriate for the freshmen/sophomore level. There were even some junior high students there. I heard  a lot of comments after wards about how boring it was and they just didn't "get it." Honestly, the language is verbose and the show lengthy. Perhaps, it's because I'm an actress/theatre person that this didn't really bother me. I was drawn in by the character's heartaches and really felt for them. I would certainly recommend this show to an adult audience. I really just don't think that younger audiences will have the patience to sit through or come away with really connecting with the characters.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Volunteering for Theatre Bay Area (TBA)

I recently decided to volunteer for TBA's general auditions. Why didn't I audition, you may be asking yourself? (And even if you're not what I'm about to say will have some relevance to this post.) I had been told by peers and a mentor that I just wasn't ready. I have been out of the performance circle for a long while and my training has really gone down the drain. I was told to go out and get some more training and some more experience, as these auditions are pretty cutthroat. As I respect their opinions I've taken their criticism to heart and decided not to waste my time or money auditioning. But I did want to see what it was like. Having previously attended Southern TBA's I had figured this would be really different. It was...and wasn't. It was certainly a bigger venue, with a lot more people. And volunteering meant I was doing work, not just standing around freaking out over whether or not I'd nail my monologues. But overall the atmosphere was pretty much the same. I'm not quite sure how I expected it to be different....Digressing...back to the subject.

This year's TBA's were held at Berkeley Rep. I've never been there before (I know, it's sad) and therefore I wanted to make sure I arrived early. I agreed to volunteer for the last block of auditions on Monday. I didn't know at the time that Monday was reserved for AEA actors, which basically meant I didn't see a single person or theatre company representative of anyone I knew. It was time to make some new friends. I did introduce myself to an actor who was volunteering that I had seen perform recently. We chatted for a bit about what shows we were going to be working on and then had a great discussion on becoming Equity. I have to agree that when I was a junior in college and thought I would become an amazing actress for a living I was anxious to know how quickly I could become Equity. I now know becoming an Equity actor isn't always the best thing, especially in the Bay Area. Most theatres here can't afford Equity actors, so becoming one is a huge decision because you will lose out on a lot of opportunities. And as for the opportunities you think you might gain with an AEA status, well...that depends. In a discussion in my acting class with my professor, who is an artistic director and attended TBA's, we both saw the same thing. Actors, both Equity and non-, who had little to no experience/training that were auditioning. I had been given the advice that I was too green for this audition and should get some training before wasting my time and energy. And, I whole heartedly agree with this. It was discussed, during class, that the logic seems to be get your Equity status as soon as possible without taking any time to get training. So you have Equity actors that are still rough around the edges. I hope this trend doesn't continue.

Back to volunteering, I made sure to dress semi-casual, since I saw this as an opportunity to network. Although there were volunteers in jeans and tank tops. When I arrived I found Claire, TBA's auditions coordinator, who told me I could either wait in the lobby or go grab something to eat since orientation wouldn't be for another 45 minutes. I opted to wait in the lobby. I watched as volunteers gathered and chatted away, obviously most people there knew each other already. When the auditors took their lunch break we got our orientation, in which it was explained the different positions that were available and what we'd be doing, as well as how we'd get to switch positions later and how we'd have opportunities to watch the auditions. The main volunteer jobs are: covering backstage, in which you bring auditioners from the green room to the stage; timers, you make sure none of the auditioners go over their allotted time (in this case 3 minutes); concessions, there wasn't food to buy but if your an auditor or volunteer you get free snacks and drinks, you basically just make sure no one else eats the food that isn't supposed to; distributors/sorters, you get the incoming headshots/resumes and sort them and then distribute them to the auditors; and finally, leftover sorters, you take all the headshots/resumes that weren't used and make neat piles of them to be picked up by the auditioners after their audition is over. I decided to do leftover sorting, since it seemed the least complicated and then pretty much just stuck with. I did take some time out to watch auditions, but didn't end up switching jobs with anyone because it just wasn't needed.

When the auditions were over we spent time gathering up all the leftover headshots and resumes and sorting those as well. I honestly have no idea where TBA stores them, but they do. Actors please take note: pick up the leftovers. It's just an environmental waste otherwise. Aside from sorting the headshots alphabetically we were also asked to pick out ones that had "writing on them." Note to directors, if you make a note about an actor on their resume, keep them. They just get thrown otherwise.

Overall, this was a great experience. I spent a majority of my time looking at people's headshots and resumes. The headshots for good composition, lighting, what to wear, etc. You really can see the difference between amateur and professional, sad but true. Someday I'll afford professional. The resumes for formatting and what people included. Also, I walked away with some possible new monologue ideas.And it was great to network. I would definitely do it again if I'm not auditioning.