In For A Penny: Oh yeah, THAT thing

Charles Lewis III, getting his audition on. 

WhatMeWorry copy

“Don’t worry about the future… or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”
– Baz Luhrmann & Lee Perry, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”

It always sneaks up on you. Between jotting down ideas for personal projects, prepping for this year’s Olympians, doing numerous on-camera jobs, jumping from one job interview to the next, and waiting for rehearsal schedules on a few major projects later in the year, it came as a bit of a surprise to remember I have an audition this Saturday.

When I did recall, it was almost as if I’d been handed someone else’s schedule and I wanted to find them to let them know they have an important appointment coming up. But, sure enough, it’s my appointment and a subtle reminder that I’m not yet high enough on the proverbial ladder to skip over this circus act. If you hit the “audition” tag at the bottom of this article, you’ll find countless examples of we ‘Pub folk lamenting the necessary evil of the whole process.

Yet the most surprising thing to me wasn’t that this audition reminder seemed to pop up out of nowhere, it was how I wasn’t the least bit worried about it.

I knew I’d need new copies of my headshot and resume, but I’ve been printing those on my home printer for years. (I should spring for a new set of headshots soon, but that’s for another day.)

I knew I’d have to memorize a monologue in a few days, but I’ve done that in a couple of hours. Besides, as I’ve written about before, I’m fortunate enough to be acquainted with a number of fantastic writers whose words I often use in auditions. This gives their work more exposure and lets me say a piece I know the auditors haven’t heard a million times that day. (Someday I’ll send Megan Cohen a gift basket as thanks for the number of roles her monologues have won me.)

I knew I’d have to get up pretty damn early in the morning to make this audition on time. Not only because it’s one of those early bird auditions that seem to happen often in the East Bay (as will another audition I have two weeks later), but also because several BART tracks are scheduled for repairs, which will make my commute even longer. The longer it takes me to travel to an audition, the more I tend to fret over trivial details that I’m sure will lose me the role.

So why am I not worried now? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because I’ve been through all of this before. I’ve been through so many auditions over the years that I think it’s finally clicked that worrying won’t bring me any closer to the role. I could spend an entire week dedicated to tearing my hair out trying to find the right shirt to wear (then another four days angry about how it doesn’t work with the clumps of hair I’ve just torn out), but I know that it’s a moot point. The director’s idea for the character is so solidly locked into his or her brain that it’s ridiculous to that you five-minute reading of sides will lead them to restructure the whole production just for you. I mean… it’s possible, but not very probable.

Not that I’m suggesting one should audition unprepared, far from it. Memorize your monologue and sides, if you’ve gotten them beforehand; if your character’s the more upscale sort, then maybe a collared shirt would help; it’s good that you (think you can) do accents, but don’t try them unless explicitly asked to do so. Preparation will always help you.

What I’m saying is to not worry. I used to get really pissed at fellow actors who attended the same auditions I did and they eventually got cast with the company. It especially pissed me off that they all had the same excuse as to why: “I just stopped caring at auditions.” Whether they meant it or not, that statement always felt like a slap in the face, a humble brag that they were able to pull off the magic trick we’d both been working on for the same amount of time.

Knowing these folks for a long time, it finally started to hit me that they weren’t (consciously) trying to be dickish, they were just trying to illustrate that they’d found their own comfort levels. They’d each found a way to walk into an audition and tell themselves “I might get this role, I might not – it’s not the end of the world.”

As I write this, I have newly-printed copies of my resume next to me and I’m skimming through short monologues (written by folks I know, naturally) that would each be perfect for me. After the audition, I’ll probably have brunch before meeting up with another Olympians writer, and then, hopefully, attending this week’s Elvis-inspired Saturday Write Fever. By then the audition will be done and the world will still be here. Hopefully.

Charles Lewis III says that if you’d like to rant about auditions with him, meet him for drinks at SWF or one of the upcoming performances of the Pint Sized Plays, which start Monday at PianoFight.