Monday, 19 May 2014

It's all in the Signs

I have no sense of direction. And many large theatres have large and intricate backstage areas…which are tricky to navigate. Especially if I’m nervous before an audition. More often than not when auditioning your name gets sent to the theatre before the time, so when you arrive at the theatre you names gets ticked off a list, and a member of the theatre staff takes you to the audition venue. And if I’m a touch nervous before said audition I don’t focus on where I’m going, and navigating my way back usually involves multiple wrong turns, and wringing my memory for a clue. Or waiting for a friend to finish their audition and hoping that they know their way about better than I do.

I must say, my audition last Monday was easier to navigate. I was just guided through the first door which leads to the general backstage area from the foyer and was almost expecting someone to walk with me when I saw the first sign…

What followed felt almost like a treasure hunt as I walked from arrowed sign to arrowed sign finding my way to the audition venue. Including the beauty next to the elevator which told me which floor to go to. I was particularly thankful as I had never wondered into this part of the theatre before, and would probably never have found the place if it hadn’t been for the multiple signs. And as per usual, the dancing audition did not fail to amuse me. 
Next to the elevator! Essential to know which
floor you are going too!

Just in case you think you should go up the stairs
It is only at a dancing audition for musical theatre that you’re the odd one out if you aren’t wearing sequenced or leather hot pants and fish-net stockings. With this specific audition we had been pre-selected on our photos and CVs before being notified that we were allowed to audition. It was interesting for me, as I usually know a few of the others at any given audition. Which is why it is good practice never to gossip at an audition because someone will know that person you're talking about. But this time I didn’t know anyone else. At all. Not even vaguely familiar face from somewhere. So with no one about of some authority, and none of the obligatory forms to fill in anywhere to be found I created my own spot on the floor and started warming up gently. No one appeared to be any the wiser as to what was coming, and usually the dancing round is first with musical theatre auditions, so most of the others were also warming up.

While in my corner I heard, what I gathered to be, the reunion of two of the other hopefuls after a lengthy period:

“What are you doing these days?”

A question often asked at these opportunities, in order to find out if someone had succumbed to taking a teaching or office job in order to pay for their habit of auditioning and sporadic jobs in the line of work they had actually trained for. Her reply was curt:


He was shocked. I stifled a laugh while pretending not to hear a conversation happening less than a meter away from me. And what followed was a soap-opera-tell-all tale of her life for the last few months. Including, I kid you not, a cheating boyfriend and a reality show about their lives, airing post-break up. She also claimed that this was one of her first auditions in about three years, as she hadn't needed to audition while dating said boyfriend. Work was offered to her. And so, in the 45 minutes we waited to start the audition I heard the tale of her life post-breakup as she related it to her friend. I didn't really have anywhere else to move to in the semi-cramped quarters during this exchange. And it did feel like a reality TV show.

Thankfully I was able to follow the myriad of signs back to the theatre’s foyer!

Spot the three signs leading me to the audition venue

Monday, 5 May 2014

Engaged: The role of a liftetime

It all started with a call from my agent about a Dove advert. He told me I had been chosen from my photo to go to the casting. He told me it was very important, and that I looked a lot like the girl in the reference photo.
“Have you received the email yet?”

I hadn’t

“I’ll just send it to you myself quickly. The venue where they’re holding the auditions doesn’t have place for you to change, so make sure you’re ready for the audition when you arrive. And if its cold where something chic over your dress”

It was important for the casting that I wear a dress. The email had reference pictures as so the type of dress they required me to wear.

The fact that the audition was on a public holiday didn’t faze me either as there is no ‘usual’ in this industry, and no days are held sacred. The morning of the big audition my boyfriend went off to Midrand to work on a group assignment for his studies. He messaged me about mid-morning saying that he would finish early enough to go to the audition with me. Then about half an hour before I planned on leaving he let me know that one of their group members was still working on his half the project, and he had to wait in order to put everything together. He would meet me after the audition, and we would go to watch a film. So I headed off on my own and followed the GPS to the location for my audition.

A half an hour drive to a venue I didn’t know, and somewhat nervous due to how serious my agent had been about the audition I arrived in the correct street, and a large poster with an arrow claiming “Dove Audition Parking” made it easier for me to find the street entrance. I noticed when I entered the parking area that the place was rather lush, and different to the usual stark audition venues, but I was more concerned with the job at hand, and being on time…

“Are you here for the Dove audition?”
I said I was there for my 3 pm call
“You’re really late. They started at 2”
I had double checked the time of the email that morning, so I knew I hadn’t gotten it wrong.
“I’m really sorry, but the email I received from my agent said very specifically that I have to be here at 3”

“Well then in that case your agent is going to be in trouble. But don’t worry about it. Most of the other girls have left already, but the casting director is still here and they haven’t packed up yet so you’re still ok”
My stomach dropped a little.

“I’ll smooth things over with the director. Just follow me I’ll take you to them

I didn’t notice much other than the stairs we were climbing as we were walking. I was double checking the email in my mind, and reassuring myself that this wasn’t my fault. A mistake had been made, but sure it would all be ok.

“Are you still alright with the stairs? Are your shoes ok? I have no idea why they decided to shoot right at the top of the property”
“Thankfully I’m not wearing heels.”

I suddenly realised that we had climbed a rather large number of steps, and then the path way even out as he directed me to walk in front of him. I think I noticed the rose petals at my feet before I saw my boyfriend looking at me. My first thought was “I’m meeting him afterwards, why is he already here” followed by “How is he up here before I am”

I then really noticed the path of petals lined by flowers, before realizing that my guide, Ken, had quietly disappeared. I looked up again and saw my boyfriend’s face. And then only did it dawn on me…

When he repeated his words later to me that evening I then started remembering what he had said. Although I couldn't remember what he said in that moment, I do know that everything he said to me in that moment touched me as he bent down on one knee and asked me to marry him in a beautiful garden overlooking Johannesburg. I was fighting back tears of elation and joy and surprise and love as I heard the emotion in his voice, before replying that I would.

I didn’t even notice the ring that he put on my shaking hand because in that moment, it wasn’t important.
Once he was back on his feet, and untangled from my arms he asked

“What do you think about the ring?” 
“I haven’t really looked at yet…”

And only then did he draw my attention to the go pro camera behind him, my cousin climbing out of the bushes to my right and his brother, getting out of the trees on my left both with cameras in tow. The four of us overlooked the beautiful Shepstone Gardens as we drank champagne and my cousin took amazing photos.

Afterward, as the four of us sat and I was informed of all that had happened while I assumed everyone was working. I was then also informed how my agent had grilled my, now fiancĂ©, to make sure that he was who he said he was, and not someone trying to kill/kidnap me. He had emailed him the numbers for human resources at his work, sent invoices for my ring and the booking of Shepstone Gardens. And then I remembered my agent calling me and claiming that he needed to update my contract with next of kin details. He needed a family member and non-family member. So when I gave him my boyfriend’s details he was satisfied that he was indeed who he said he was!

I phoned my parents to tell them the news and my mom asked:

“Did you get the part?”