Friday, May 30, 2008

New Horizons, Narrow Streets

I mentioned a few weeks ago I thought about auditioning at the Winchester Little Theatre. They were having a 24 hour, cast, rehearse and perform extravaganza. Well, my niece's sweet 16 is tomorrow. BUT...they were also auditioning for their monthly reader's theatre talent pool. So I went anyway, and tried out for that. More on the audition in a moment.

With the help of GPS I found the a very confusing little town for out of town drivers to get around in. Few road signs, and the lane arrows are faded.Yikes.

But once I actually got there, and signed in and all of that, things improved. The guy in charge recognized me from The Lion in Winter and a few other shows I have done at theOpera house over the years. It's nice to be recognized.

For most of the preliminary time, I knew nobody at all, personally. Some looked vaguley familiar; possibly from times when my theatre group crossed paths with others, at some show or another, who can say? Or maybe i saw them in the local papers before.

Either way, not being an extrovert (listen to my latest radio show for more on that one), I sort of hung back, and reviewed a speech they had sitting out for prospective auditioneers. (That's not a word, but...)

Later, someone who was in Dearly Beloved with me last year was sitting right next to me...and I did not know it until she said absorbed was I in said speech. Then, "Mummy", from the Lion in Winter showed up, whom, blog readers will know, I have worked with various times and have known for years. So it was nice to see a familiar face.

Finally, we all gathered into the performance area. Very intimate modified thrust construction. (Seats on three sides of the performance space.) I liked it. I thought right away that it would be a great place to do some Shakespeare.

I kept batting back and forth in my mind as to whether to present the Robbie speech as my auditioning. I ran it several times today in my head, and even as I watched some other people audition. (Some with a prepared monologue, others reading from scripts provided.)

I had just decided to go with the monologue, (a big step for me, as most auditions I attend have not required them), when they called me up next. I think I was the third or 4th person out of 22 or so to go. Quite early, for me.

This set up was unique as compared to most other places I have auditioned. Not only were multiple writers casting for the 24 hour thing there, and not only were all the potential directors of the monthly readers theatre present, but so were all the other actors. I usually have to audition with a few people in my other venues, a small group. This time, the whole set of actors was present. So there was in fact an audience of about 40 people total.

I said where my speech was from, not knowing if anyone had ever heard of it, (I hadn't until I read it the other week). Then I just started.

The delivery was strong, but it was a little different than I have been doing it with myself this last week or so. I felt more of a pained sarcasm trying to come through in the character, but ultimately taking a back seat to the anguish of the suicide attempt, and the eventual joy of recollecting his decision not to. This organic weariness come forth as I recited it, which, if I dare say so myself, added depth to the speech that I did not think at this point, I had been able to summon.

Perhaps the intimate setting had to do with felt like an excellent environment for such a speech, for some reason. This closeness was fertile ground for this very confessional sort of speech, and I just went with it. I could have done some technical things better, I feel, but I was proud of my use of the whole stage. I walked around, but my foot on a platform, addressed different parts of the speech to different people. All and all, I am rather proud that I did not succumb to the temptation to stay in one place for the thing.

I was a tad nervous, because I had never auditioned for any of those people, and on top of that had used a piece I had never tried out with before...fresh from "offbookdom" just days ago. I think that added an edge to the delivery that I usually had not felt when reciting it...and I think that may have added some of the depth to it as well.

Overall, I did very close to exactly what I wanted to do with the speech. I might have slowed it down a bit, but everyone seemed pleased.

Then I sat down, and was not called back to read again for 45 minutes. Many people went up multiple times, (some to do some really wacked out improvisation, which they were usually pretty good at), before I was called down one more time to read a scene with someone. I seem to have done that was the 5th time a group had presented that piece, but people were still laughing. I suppose I did something right.

Then, after a few more people went up, that was pretty much it. The readers theatre types had their picture taken, for future reference, and I left. (Only to get lost in the extreme VA backwoods for a while on the way home...thank God for GPS.)

My understanding is that notes were taken on each person, as well as a picture, for future reference. Whether or not they will select certain people to be in this readers theatre pool, and said group will do all the shows, or if they just reference today's audition notes each time a readers theatre comes up, and call people accordingly, I am not quite certain. I could have asked, but they had enough things to do, what with getting reader for the Train Wreck. Ergo, I figured, if they want me for any given thing, I will get a call. And if I can do it, I will, and if I cannot do it, i will apologize.

I may in fact be automatically in the talent pool just for showing up, for all I know. I know that only 4 people were reading exclusively for readers theatre, with most of the others reading for both. (A few just for the Train Wreck.) I also know that the amount of people who tried out for the Train Wreck was pretty much the same as the roles everyone who tried out for the Wreck will get to be in it. That is nice. I do wish I could see it...and really think it would be a fun thing to be in. But, it was not in the cards this year. Perhaps they will do it again next year.

So there you have it...never theatre, new city, new speech in front of new people. Such a great deal of newness, I think I will go watch an old familiar movie just to recalibrate.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I have the whole monologue from Fishing committing to memory now. Just at the stage where I have to ease out the rough edges, but I know that it's in there.

The audition I may be going to on Friday says they will let you cold read from something, but also says that having both a comic and a dramatic monologue prepared would not be a bad idea either. As for the dramatic one, if I keep running it over and over, I feel I can use it for Friday, if I go. I doubt I will be able to pull a comic one together by then, though, what with everything else I have going on. I could pound it into my head...but a monologue should, in my view, drip slowly into one's mind...filling it more deliberatley, but also in a more careful manner, so that it is not only retained, but assimilated into one's subconscious. I feel I am well on my way to that status now with the Robbie monologue, but would not have much time to do that for one more.

So maybe the kind folks in Winchester will approve of a little cold reading from someone that has ONE monologue prepared. (Or should I say, one genre, as I also have several Shakespearean dramatic speeches firmly stored in my distracted globe.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Monologues

I am pleased with the progress I am making on the dramatic monologue I have chosen to study this week. I just got off a half hour session of running it through over and over. I would say I am very close to being off book for the first half of it. (It's about 2 minutes at the pace I am delivering it, but it could be done in less than that. I admit, i have not read the play from which it comes, but based on the description given to me by the anthology's editor, the piece seems more suited to a muted, quiet delivery.

Even so, I have said before that sometimes monologues can be advantageous as stand alone works, for the purposes of honing the craft, and for use as audition pieces. Many people disagree with me on this, included my former acting professor. He always encouraged us to read the entire plays from which our class monologues came from before committing to them and delivering them for a grade. His argument is not without merit, and indeed, if you find you have no insight into the character, and no reference point at all for what he may be saying, you are best to either read the whole play, or choose another piece. But barring that whole ignorance of the purpose of the piece, I think it can be liberating sometimes to have monologues in an actor's repertoire that are more like disconnected vignettes of humanity...separate from their larger story, even though you know that larger story exists. Gives the piece character.

There are book out there that consist solely of monologues written for the purposes of auditions. I am not as familiar with them, but I would think there would be a slight temptation on the part of the playwright to create something too hamish by a few degrees. If not guilty of this sin, writers of such stand alone might be guilty of less than realistic language...trying to make it "monologueish" if you will.

So why I do not think reading the whole play behind an audition piece is required, if you have a connection to it already, I do think there is something to be said for it being a part of a whole play, even if you do not read same.

(For those that may be curious on what I am working on currently, it is a monologue from the character of Robbie from a play called Fishing by Micheal Weller.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Greeting, loyal blog readers. I am still around, and up to some things, in a way.

To begin with, for the first time in five years, I will not be participating in the Old Opera House's New Voice Play Festival. This saddens me, but the had a theme this years it seems, of choosing plays that focused on teenagers, and focused on older people. Ergo, there were no parts for me. Though I could play an older person, community theatres tend to shy away from letting people do that, preferring, I find, to cast people of the actual age. So I did not try out.

I have, however, been looking around for new venues at which to attend theatre, and to audition for it. Theatres I have heard of, but have never been to. One such place is in Winchester, Virginia. Called simply, the "Winchester Little Theatre".

I recently requested to join their mailing list. Just today I got an announcement for their next audition...the put on a new play festival in, get this, 24 hours. Auditions, script writing, rehearsing, and putting on the play all within 24 hours. How hectic and nuts that would be, but also exciting. I am pondering auditioning for same...if I got in, what a wild way to be introduced to a new company. And if I did not get in, at least I would get to see the place.

These auditions double foe a talent pool they are trying to establish for a reader's theatre that they do periodically. (Those who read this blog realize that I have done reader's theatre several times in other places.) So that might be a fun way to ease into a different company.

The place will be quite a commute for me..about 40 miles. But, you cannot make omelets without breaking eggs, right? (I know, the cliche' doesn't apply exactly. But it almost fits.)

I am also working on a monologue. Several, actually, from my new contemporary stage monologues books. (Though not as contemporary as I thought at first...the collection is 25 years old.) But speeches are speeches, and I have enjoyed the exposure to new pieces. I feel a sense of freedom and creativity as I work on committed this first one to memory. I have never read the play, but the more I go over the monologue, the more I feel it might make for an interesting character.

If I get one with it, I may use it for a dramatic monologue for the previously mentioned audition. We will see.

As always, check back here for updates on all things theatrical from the world of Ty.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Personal Link

I have always said that this blog was about acting, but because I own it and run it, i reserved the right to mention a few of topic things now and then. Here is another.

I recently formalized a side income that I have partaken in for years. I do some ghostwriting on the side sometimes, and finally decided to set up a simple, pre-school level website to advertise those services.

You can find it at Take a look, and feel free to send anybody my way that may have need for such services. (Though I don't take credit cards, I do take money orders.)

I am also adding the link to my link section over to the left.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cinema Mode, and 300th Post!

An interesting topic to address with this, my 300th post on Always Off Book. My latest audition. For a movie!

I mentioned this a few weeks ago. Some local indy filmmakers will be shooting a science fiction movie in October, and were holding a casting call today at a local community college. It was at 9:00AM, and I opted to go today, because I thought there would be fewer people competing for attention that early in the morning.

I seem to have been correct, as I was the only one there. (Though I have no idea how heavy turn out was for their previous three audition dates, and I didn't ask.)

By their own admission, they did not have many sides for people to read for an audition. But what they did have was interesting to say the least.

The plot is still hazy, but I did gather it involved an elite fight force of some kind, who are framed for a crime they did not commit. It also involves interplanetary intrigue, and a recently installed evil dictator.

I read for one of the members of said fighting force, and for the evil leader. I had fun with this read. I read him pretty straight at first, which they liked, but they then had another suggestion for a way to read him. They told me they were thinking of having him be quasi-inept in his role as leader. An almost comical role for the film. The one director pointed towards Mel Brooks' President Screwb from Spaceballs as a reference. While I of course didn't impersonate Brooks, that did give me a great sense of what they were thinking about. So I read it again comically.

They seemed to enjoy my read, and said they would call me in the future. (I am not sure when, they do not start filming until October.)

I have to say, I have never read any script quite like it before. The notion of playing the (perhaps) over the top sci-fi villain is quite intriguing. Particularly if there is a chance for some light comedy. It was, at any rate, fun to read for the part, and I told them so when I left.

And the whole experience was genuinely fun. They seemed quite pleased to have me show up this morning.

A few hours after I got home, I had an email from one of the directors. Last night I had sent them an email with my head shot, as I had no way to print one in so little time. (I tried.) The acknowledged receipt of same, and mentioned that they "enjoyed" my reading this morning. So, perhaps that is a good sign.

It depends of course on how many other people tried out, what they offered, and what they are looking for, as with any project. But, there are 10 speaking roles for males, as well as a crowd scene at some point, requiring walk ons. While I assume nothing, I feel cautiously optimistic that with those odds, and with them having enjoyed my read, I would be able to secure at least one of the walk on parts. No guarantees of course, and I am aware of that. Still, some good signs, I feel.

If I do get into this thing, it will no doubt be a very different acting experience from the norm for me, for a number of reasons. One big reason I tried out for it...the potential for variety.

As soon as I hear anything, I will of course report it here on the blog.

I am also pondering trying out for this year's "New Voice Play Festival" in a couple of weeks at the Old Opera House. I have been in the last 4, and always enjoy myself. I feel they may not have as much room for young men roles this year, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.