Monday, 17 March 2014

Call Backs with Major Monologues

This year, so far, has been really slow for me. And after signing with a new agent I’ve been desperate to prove my worth. To prove that signing me was a good thing to do. And although I’ve been trying to stay positive, and my family has been very supportive it has been tough. Last Monday I had the pleasure of auditioning for a theatre piece which will be touring through South Africa and Africa. The show is an actress’s dream. It’s also about women, so as a feminist I really wanted in.

After my initial monologue I was asked to wait outside. When the casting and musical directors walked out I was handed sheet music. And two monologues. One monologue consisting of four pages, and one consisting of five pages. I had a call back. Something to be proud of. Something to show that I was worth keeping on the books. And to prove to myself more than anything that I’m still on the right track.
I was then told what the casting director wanted to see from me in the monologues. The type of energy, the feeling, the beats. I was a little older than the characters, and I had to play. I had to move away from some directions. I had to move toward others. I was bombarded with information. And then told that if I could learn the whole monologues it would be best. But if I couldn’t manage they would understand. They would be seeing me later that week.

I prepped my nine pages of dialogue as well as I could. I knew my song. I was as prepared as I could be when I arrived an hour early for my call back. As was the other 9 girls who arrived for call backs that day. And I assumed there would be about 9 more girls the next day. And we all wanted a slot in the cast of 6. Before we started the casting director spoke to us as a group:

“The reason that you ladies are all here today is because we can see you in the show. Now its just a question of finding the ladies who are the right fit for the show.”

The energy was amazing. A mix of ladies auditioning for the first time and those of us with a little experience. For the first time at an audition that I attended as we all waited for our turn to do our monologues the whole groups sat together and chatted while we waited.

And waited. 

The director for the play is New York based, so the round of call backs had to be recorded so that she can peruse them at her leisure in America. We were also miked for this. Which, as usual, involves some poor guy apologising profusely as he sticks a microphone up your shirt and a mike pack down your pants. It also meant I had to be very wearing of the movement of my clothes I had so meticulously plotted into my monologues. I was the second lady to be recorded so there were still some teething problems. I started my monologue, I was focused, I was on track, and then something toppled off the tripod taking the camera with it. I was commended on the right energy I was giving as I had been told to do. I was also told to relax and enjoy it. I started again. I reached about 2 paragraphs further than the first take when the school’s intercom blared the rehearsal space where we were auditioning. I wasn’t told to cut, so I carried on with the monologue through what we were all hoping to be a quick announcement. But no luck. After literally a minute of me keeping my pose between a monotone voice reading the changed rehearsal space for drumming practice and those pre-teens who had to go to the office I was eventually told I could stop by the casting director. She stared at the tiny intercom box in astonishment as the stream of announcements continued. When it eventually stopped she and the musical director just packed up laughing. This time was congratulated on keeping my focus for so long. And we started again. And thankfully the third time was a charm!

I had gathered that very few of the other girls had prepped the entire monologue, so I was thanked profusely for being very well prepared. I then returned outside to wait to do my second monologue. With a Russian accent. For some reason I was more nervous on my return to the audition space than before. I took a deep breath, was apologised to by the sound guy, and started monologue number two. As I was the first to finish without needing to leave early I asked if they were still going to need to see me. I was thanked again for being prepared. I was thanked for auditioning and I was thanked for coming. I was told it would be a long time before they would know about the casting as it had to be reviewed in America. And then a sweet sweet payoff from the casting director, who I learned afterward is an up-and-coming musical theatre director in South Africa:

“By the way Chandré, I love your look. It was really lovely to meet you”


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