Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Game

Picture the scene: Sicily, 1922. Sorry, (I've been binge watching "The Golden Girls"). I mean New York City, March 2017. I did not want to get up, let alone get dressed and go out the door. So the idea of dressing up, putting on make-up and going to an audition seemed totally impossible.

Never let a chance go by, Addie
Isn't that what Papa meant?
Now and then you miss one
But I guarantee you this one
Is a winner
I'm no longer a beginner!
Addie, take the chance
Or it disappears!
Every card you're dealt opens new frontiers–
Let's be pioneers!*

2016 was a good year for meI worked and lots of friends and family assumed that would mean the work would just continue. This profession is rarely like that. I know friends who have worked back to back on Broadway shows and then don't work for huge gaps in between. I knew what I signed up for. And some good reviews are not a magic wand for more work with agents and casting directors knocking down your door.  
My planner

But I was ready to start 2017. Excited to   audition and work. I started the year with the wonderful Uta Hagen teacher training and felt motivated to work with fellow actors and teachers. Revisiting Uta Hagen's exercises was a joy (and a challenge, of course!) And spending time at HB Studio where I did intensive 2 year training back in 2008 was motivating and inspiring. I had my 2017 planner, my post-it notes, my highlighters. I was ready.

But being ready is not always enough. Auditions come and go. They do not just pop up at the perfect time!

I know well the agony of waiting as non-eq and trying to be seen.
Time after time. And I'm always telling my students that 
it can be worthwhile. Now we have online 
sign ups. So many members all trying to 
get on at once. You need to be on your 
computer and ready to click that button and 
watch the rainbow wheel of death at noon 
a week before the EPA. But, now that I am Equity
what can possibly be my excuse?

Audition board at Ripley Grier

The whole thing's nothing more than just a game
And, Addie, what I'm good at is the game
They said, "Come on in, sucker!"
Now they're sorry that I came

I tell you, kid, there's nothing like the game. 
Better than girls
Better than booze
Beating ace high
With a pair of twos
Better than snowdrifts
In your shoes

Even if 
Now and then you lose– *

We're never going to get a job if we're not in the game! And there is certainly a lot of losing. But not showing up makes sure you lose. I try so hard to practice what I preach as The Actor's Friend, but I think the fact I have the same struggles my students do helps me and them.

Here are a few things I've told myself when I don't want to show up. Maybe you'll recognize some:

  • I'm tired
  • My voice is not in perfect shape
  • I have not done this cut (or monologue) in a while
  • I do not have the "perfect" cut or monologue for this audition
  • The weather
  • I can't miss class
  • I have no money on my Metrocard
  • I might mess up
  • They are not really looking for anyone
  • I need to take survival work to pay the rent
  • I have a case of "the mean reds"

My #100Daysinthelifeofanactor post from Friday

The thing that really matters is the game
It's more than just the winning, it's the game
That moment when the card is turned
And nothing is the same–
The only thing that matters is the game

It's more than just the money that's at stake
That's nice, but it's just icing on the cake
It's your life
Every pot
Who you are
Not what you've got
Compared to that, the world seems pretty tame
The thing that really matters is the game*

By 2p.m. on Friday, I had talked myself out of going to an EPA. I had failed to get an online appointment and told myself I would not get seen.  Then I checked Audition Update and could see it was not particularly busy. I would be seen.  what was my excuse now? I felt tired and depressed. I had not done my cut of the song I wanted to sing for a while. My throat felt scratchy. I needed to wash my hair. I lay on my couch feeling sorry for myself and angry with myself. By 2.45p.m. something switched in my brain. I thought about what I would say to my students. What would I tell my accountability group? I gave myself a good talking to, got up and ready, packed my book and headshots and headed to Ripley Grier. I got an appointment and sang my cut and had a lovely chat with the artistic director about "The Beauty Queen of Leenane". Nothing spectacular happened. No callback, no job offer. BUT I lost my case of the mean reds and walked along 8th avenue with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I showed up. I took part in the game.

What do you think
Papa would say?
"Boys," he'd say
"Seize the goddamn day!
This is your chance–" *

*"The Game" from "Wise Guys"
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

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