Friday, February 12, 2010

What I've Been Upta

Attended a big mass audition in Memphis this past Monday.

Set out Saturday from Kannapolis for Nashville, where I was to stay with my parents. Got off to a late start in a rental car, and wound through the mountains in a dark cold pour of freezing rain. Do you remember the old Transformer type toys that had wheels which folded into the car's body as part of the car-to-robot transformation process? This car felt like its wheels were ready to fold up in just such a fashion. I finally got to my parents' house around midnight. Slept.

Sunday morning, awoke after my parents had already left for church. My brother and I had breakfast and walked the dogs, one of whom mistrusts strangers and wouldn't stop growling at me. After one walk together he mostly stopped growling... guess I'm part of the pack now. After lunch with the whole family I headed to Memphis. Trees like black twigs with silver highlights; ice flipping off the roofs of trucks. Ribbons of powdery snow rippling across the blacktop like sand on a windy beach.

Checked into my hotel, which was not the official hotel of the audition, but was a mere block from the theatre. The hotel had a groovy old lobby, narrow hallways, slow elevators and a colorful but creepy parking garage that would earn Dario Argento's location scout a bonus. A microwave in my room, but no fridge. No source for tea water, but the night clerk loaned me her electric teakettle. The internet flickered in and out, and my phone couldn't connect, so I was pretty much cut off from family.

Monday morning I went downstairs to get some lobby coffee, glanced out the glass door to the outdoor pool, and saw that the sky had dumped a load of snow all over Memphis, just in time for my audition. I attended the orientation meeting that morning (off to a late start since a bus of actors was caught in the snow) and got psyched up for my audition, for which I felt well prepared. Mingled a bit with the other auditionees. At 36 I was the wizened old crone of the bunch, shaking a palsied fist at all the twentysomethings.

Once upon a time I would have prepared for an audition by drinking Red Bull ("Can't fly without my magic feather" I was known to say) but now I sipped cup after cup of green tea. Meanwhile I perused the books-for-sale table; lots of challenging and new plays that aren't going to be produced by the theatres attending this audition. They're not doing new works by Maria Irene Fornes; they're doing Grandpa's Covered Wagon Christmas.

The moment arrived, and I auditioned like a green tea drinker instead of a Red Bull drinker. I overheard another guy's audition, and he sounded like a Red Bull drinker.

It seemed to be music theater's night, and most of the folks who auditioned and got many callbacks were singers... I chatted with/eavesdropped on other straight theatre folks, and many of them got no callbacks. The Red Bull guy I overheard was the only straight theatre person that night to get a bunch of callbacks. Back to the magic feather for me.

I attended my callback... it was mostly an informational session about the company, which I'd never heard of but have since discovered is a household name. It was a very, very enticing offer, except that it required being away from home for most of the year... and I'm a newlywed. After much agonizing I've concluded that Robert Bly be damned, I'm putting who I want to be with ahead of what I want to do. I'll just find something else to do.

Tuesday morning. Packed and loaded the car, incidentally glancing down the hall to the parking deck's lowest level to see that it was flooded ankle-deep with snow runoff.

Met an old college friend for lunch; one whom I haven't seen in years. She's looking good, sounding gloomy, so no change there.

Drove back to Nashville, getting into two GPS coffee snipe hunts. The first took me down an unfinished highway, off a ramp before the highway's end, into an area that was clearly a forest a week ago. The carelessly toppled trees and McMansion frames reveal that someone thinks there's still too much wilderness in Tennessee.

The second snipe hunt took me past a large, oddly shaped building. What was that, some office complex? Nope; it was one of the theatres that didn't call me back. After I found once again that "Sally's Fair Trade Organic Coffee, Comic Books and Bebop Jazz Cafe" was another figment of my GPS's overheated imagination, it started to snow again.

I got back to my parent's house, had a nice meal, and collapsed. Andrew Gainey, my late lamented voice teacher, appeared to me in my sleep to give me one of his spirited don't-let-'em-grind-you-down pep talks. Good timing, Andy.

The next day I slouched around my parents' house all day.

The next day I let William Gibson's Spook Country Audiobook chauffeur me home.