Auditions: Part Two (Day One)

Posted by A Quiet Man with a Loud Voice | Labels: , , | Posted On Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Best. Auditions. Ever.

Really, no lie. I probably should be angry as hell that all my preparation was for naught, but you know what? I have never had as much fun at an audition as I did last night. And it served to remind me that just when you think you've got it all figured out, someone is determined to throw you a curve ball.

To begin with: all that script work I did? Pointless (at least until the rehearsal process starts). We didn't touch the script at all last night -- instead what we did was completely physical theatre, a little improv, and a lot of mime.

I've done physical theatre auditions once before, at Redmoon Theater in Chicago, and I stunk those up. Those were the first physical theatre auditions I had ever done and I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Redmoon is well known for doing crazy theatre, especially at Looptopia, a massive theater event/spectacle that takes place on the streets of Chicago's loop and is a showcase for some of Chicago more avant-garde groups. And their in-house performances are usually top-notch amazing.

Anyways -- back to the auditions last night.

It began with a very simple task: in mime, perform a short piece in which you go from one place to another. This led to some very interesting takes on normally mundane activities.

I can't remember all of the mimes people do, but they included: taking care of a dog, blowing a wad of bubble gum (and being unable to get rid of it), and forgetting your drink ontop of your car. I think I was the only one that failed at doing 'mundane' -- I did a Western.

The auditions only progressed from there, getting crazier and crazier. At various points we were asked to physically take on the embodiments of various aspects of humanity such as: "Good Deeds", "Knowledge", etc. This was probably my single biggest challenge. How the hell do you personify "Good Deeds" in mime form? There were exercises in which gang/slacker life was stereotyped, Death had to convince a character that it was time for him to depart, and so on and so forth.

The Death exercises proved the most intriguing to me, as I never knew there were so many ways to personify death in a physical form. It is worth noting that for the bulk of the audition - we were performing in mime - not vocally. So it was a hell of a task.

There were a few things I noticed. The novice actors, the ones who hadn't acted before, didn't know one of the cardinal rules of Improv. That is, "Yes, and..."

To clarify: when someone gives you something such as, "Wow, Cleric, you look so good! I can't even tell you had a baby last week!" the correct response is, "Yes, and - my little girl is giving me fits." Novitiates to the improv form of theatre will, by and by, respond with, "What are you talking about? I didn't have a baby."

Improv is all about receiving not giving. It's something that it took me a while to realize and now I enjoy the art form when its done well because of that.

On the other hand, the auditions served to reinforce one thing I largely suspected for many, many, many years. Those of us born with a hearing loss (whether minor or major) tend to be much more skilled in spatial awareness than those who aren't. In addition, those who know sign language can create some pretty specific mimes as ASL is a language based on the principle of physical theatre.

This idea is something I'm looking forward to exploring in the future and will undoubtedly expand on it in a future blog entry.

Anyways, it was an amazing audition last night - everyone completely blew me away. And I'm looking forward to tonight except for one thing: I woke up today sore and exhausted. I slept for TWELVE hours last night.



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