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Tag Archives: auditioning

My incredible stint as an mature model

 

I’m having a hard time lately with auditions. As I get older, I know what I want and where I fit in.  Most of the time I have to make up my own opportunities. I went to a film audition the other day and asked to audition for one of the many male characters as I often do because they are usually less one dimensional. Even as a clown, I take my art seriously.

This modeling opportunity presented itself as a chore no one else wanted. Basically I volunteered to play an elderly patient who could not identify herself and needed help eating. We were helping Certified Nursing Assistant students practice their skills. Here I am pondering my meal tray.

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Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias can do many things for themselves. Sometimes they cannot. The CNA’s had to practice not making assumptions and practicing good hygiene.  One thing I enjoyed is that they all basically talked aloud about everything they were doing. This is something I do in order to remember steps and to help the person understand and be able to give consent.

 “May I come in?” “Would you like a clothing protector?” “Would you like any assistance with that?”, “I’m going to put your bed in a position so you can eat.” “I’ll leave your call button here if you like.” These were all great prompts I heard. My part didn’t require much but I added small things to put the person at ease like saying “thank you” when they provided me with care. I exaggerated my shaky hands when eating and  did try to  help them out a little bit if they forgot something. For instance, I would say “Oh no, I’m spilling on my new pants” if they forgot to offer me a clothing protector. Sometimes I got a little goofy and asked them if they wanted to sing with me.

There was some weird chocolate rice hazelnut bar that was on the lunch tray. I would stick it in my belt after the meal to see if they recorded it as eaten or not. I soon began fantasizing about actually eating it and wound up taking it home with me. I consider that my payment. Here is my co-worker Jenny who did the judging for the enactment. I finally got to eat instead of just feigning it.

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We are birds of a feather, both a little kooky and dedicated to fun. The other enactments in our room involved processing a discharge and taking vital signs. They were much quieter folks but when they weren’t busy they would laugh at us.

Tomorrow I will go to an audition for a play about The Irish Uprising of 1916. I’m interested in this because it is supposed to be a working class perspective of the event. The majority reaction in Ireland is documented to be negative as there was little working class buy in to what was largely a project of the intellectuals of the time. It was a confused and confounded effort but was largely successful in galvanizing an independence movement because of the British decision to martyr the leaders. Even if there is no part for me, I hope I will learn something and have more fun.

I judge myself for not wanting to audition for stereotypical older female characters but life is short. My contribution to feminism is to resist conformity and expand expectations. I believe that is the challenge of artists and all those who are curious about humanity. It’s difficult not to want approval and security. I succumb to this everyday in terms of my anxieties about  work, relationships and the meaning of life. Luckily I live in Alaska where nature rules and human must be humble and creative to survive.

My roommates and I have a new project, the kazoo band. We have about 15 kazoos. It will be time to really celebrate spring when the trails get plowed in a couple of weeks. We are going to organize a flash mob of sorts to meet at Westchester lagoon and march to the nearest bridge playing popular tunes. The whole neighborhood will be invited to bring improvised instruments and dress in antic attire.  So far our playlist includes such classics as Row, Row, Row your Boat, Three Blind Mice and Losing my Religion by U2.  More details to come!

 

When expectations kill… auditioning for the theatre!

 

 And I don’t mean kill like in stand up comedy!

I went to an audition yesterday with high expectations. I had an email from the artistic director of the theatre, not the director of the play, but still pretty flattering.  The artistic director did improv in the 1960’s. The director of the play  is a classically trained actor. The director of the play announced that although there were women who were at the audition she couldn’t see using them in any part but one, even though it was an improv based play.  Some of the humor in the play was  based on cross dressing but I could easily see my way around that. Cross dressing is so Benny Hill anyway. Theatre is supposed to open and welcoming to people of all races and folks in wheelchairs etc but at least she read us for all the parts if we asked.

  After all these years I still hesitate to call myself an actor. I’m more a comedian and an improvisor.  I don’t have a degree in theatre, I am an attention magnet because of my height.  When I’m onstage you don’t know what is going to happen and that isn’t what most directors want.  I am also political so this can be dicey for people who just want to have fun or play it safe. One of the reasons I like to write my own shows and do improv is that I can challenge the status quo.  But just being known for that is not a good thing either. I try to find a balance. Sometimes I fall from a great height. That’s usually because my expectations took me there.

I thought I was going to have fun doing an improv audition but I got real nervous.  My hands shook harder than usual, like I was at sea and it seemed so dark in the theatre that I couldn’t read the script.  I forgot I had been sick and hadn’t slept the last few nights. My expectations of my own performance and of how I would be received were dragging me down.  After a couple hours I had used up all my  nervous energy. I hadn’t paced myself. As a young person I never had to, but being over 50, with no sleep, makes pacing imperative unless you are using cocaine or something a la Michael Jackson ( same age as me and dead due to pacing errors). 

At the end,  we had to improvise a book in 30 seconds.  Some of the improvs  seemed longer than the books themselves.  I couldn’t think of what to do. Everyone was trying so hard to be smart and funny.  I gave up on trying to impress people with my acting. I used my last twenty seconds to kill my chances. I  got up and told them that I read too many serious books. I thought about doing the white characters in 12 years a Slave at which point there was a sick silence. Instead I took the last 15 seconds to act out Yossarian reacting to the face of the tail gunner in Catch 22. I told them what Catch 22 was. I didn’t tell them that I feel that being an artist is like Catch 22. You have to be crazy to be one and you have to be crazy like me to be excluded. 

I feel like that about being a therapist. Most people know that therapists and social workers have their own mental health issues which may have consciously or unconsciously brought them into the field.  At my job I am a peer provider, meaning that I share my own mental health challenges with the people I serve so that they can travel the road together with all of us in recovery.  When I went public about my mental health challenges I didn’t think I had much to lose. I don’t hide my anxiety or depression very well. I can be seen as passionate or damn angry, thoughtful or negative, goofy or unhinged, funny or scary.  I did not think that I might want to foster a child or house an exchange student one day  when my mental health recovery would be looked upon as a failing.   Apparently this is something to be considered.

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Angry actress

 

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goofy actress

 

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Unpredictable actress given a powerful weapon – a microphone!

The good thing about the audition is that I see more where I fit in. I can focus on doing political improv, even feminist improv. It will be difficult to find people who want to do this in Alaska but then maybe I need a change of venue.  I need to take an inventory before I go into the theatre. If I’m run down, I can try to have fun but not expect miracles. I can appreciate that every audition is a performance for an audience.  I can remember back to the time when I had good auditions and didn’t get the part  and auditions where I was so depressed I hardly got through the lines and yet I got the part because they were looking for someone who could play depressed! I can also remember that I’m brought to the theatre for my own illness (wanting others to accept me and laugh) as well as for my own healing( to claim the stage authentically.)

May you enjoy and learn from all of life’s auditions. I felt pretty bad yesterday but I feel better today.  And may the odds forever be in your favor.