Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Firstly, I did not publish an article yesterday, and for that, my apologies. No real excuse other than fatigue this time.

However, I have something to write tonight, so that is not a bad second place prize, is it?

I was at the Full Circle Theater tonight. (Where I recently did "A Christmas Carol".) I was there in my capacity as the company's official photographer.

I have to say, this is the first time I have taken pictures for a show that I was not in myself. Strange phenomena. To be right there in the middle of a rehearsal, and not having a cue to hit or an entrance to make. But it was also a bit of a relief as well. It is easy to enjoy the atmosphere of a theater production, knowing that none of the screw ups can ever be blamed on you.

The play is called "Copenhagen", and it is a sort of metaphysical speculation on how or why the final meeting between physicists Bohr and Heisenberg took place. Interesting concept. I encourage you to go to the Full Circle website and reserve tickets for it now. It will be opening very soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I didn't get in. It was a long shot, I suppose. The directors there tend to cast the same folks all the time, really. I could kind of tell I wasn't in good shape when everybody else there knew each other and were telling all the inside jokes during the audition. But I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt, thinking they might be more open minded this time.

To be fair, the Apollo Civic Theater is not exactly the only community theatre in the world to be like that. Sadly many of them are, I am learning. Certainly the local ones.

That's not a moral judgment. Even good people can be "clicky". It's a matter of comfort and risk aversion in most cases, I dare say. A natural reluctance to give a lot of time over to actors with whom you have not worked with before, or only worked with little. It can be difficult for I imagine, to be willing to go out there and draw that new blood into an organization, regardless of which one it is.

Though it is not a personal judgment,
it is a legitimate observation. Given that this blog is designed to express my views on my acting experiences, I felt it was time to share that point of view about the sort of closed shop mentality that is prevalent in local theatres. I think new blood would do a lot more good than harm for many places, but I am in the minority, and frankly, think I have paid the price for that more than once.

Of course, every group of people has a right to behave in anyway they wish to behave when it comes to their art. I just find it disappointing that more groups tend to choose the same people over and over. Or that the practice is so very common.

Even if one chooses to believe that my view has no merit whatsoever, (though if you read the history of this blog I think you have to conclude that I am more than fair in my theatrical opining), there is also something about the way I learned of my rejection in this particular instance that really "gets up my nose" as the British may say.

I learned of my rejection when I got the old "we could not cast you" email. Which as an actor, I do get weary of, I have to say. Again, this is not just from the Apollo. All theatres that bother contacting you at all (many don't) actually tend to do reject someone in the exact same manner. The exact same phrasing, even..."We could not cast you at this time. We are sorry."

If a theatre is going to dislike what you do and not cast you anyway, disappointment is disappointment. Yet I in a sense wish that they would simply say what they really mean in their rejection letters;

"We do not want to cast you".

Saying we "cannot" cast you gives the impression that they wanted to, but were prevented by some sort of outside force. It is very clear that they were not prevented. The truth is, they did not care for what you showed them. Their dislike of your audition may be for any number of reasons, but none of them is, "we could not".

So despite the annoyance of it all, I cannot help but ponder how it might be refreshing to hear something like, "You do not do what we need done," or even "we chose not to give you a role in our show", instead of the patronizing, "We could not cast you, we are sorry." Not only could you cast me, but I find it very hard to believe that you are particularly sorry for not having done so.

Again, this is universal, and not an especial message to or about any given individual or group. If it were not so common, it wouldn't be worthy of comment.

The worst part of all of this, loyal blog readers, is that there is nothing left for me to do, theatrically, until at least the fall. All spring shows are cast, and summers tend to be set aside exclusively for kids shows. Something may turn up, but it seems doubtful.

And so, I know not what is next, and this may in fact be a sign that it is time for me to discontinue my theatrical adventures. (gasp away if you feel the need). But I have pondered it for a while, and losing out on the last two endeavors that I attempted has got me to thinking that maybe theatre just is not worth it any more...

I will write on this as I ponder the situation in more depth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Mousetrap

This evening I went to the Apollo Civic Theater to audition for the Agatha Christie play, "The Mousetrap." I will share some thoughts on it in a moment.

"But Ty," you are thinking, "you never mentioned to us, you;re loyal blog readers, that you were planning to audition. What gives?"

What gives is that even I did not know I was going to do it until tonight.

I knew about it and had been kicking it around in the far dark reaches of my consciousness, but had not really considered it up front. I wasn't sure if I would have the time.

But I checked the performance dates, and I realized I could get by doing other things I have planned for the spring, and still do this show, if cast.

Plus, I have never been in a play at the Apollo before, and I thought that it was time that I branch out a bit.

I have in fact performed at the Apollo before. Reaching back a few years into the blog, you can read about a talent show I was a part of at the ACT in early 2006. I ad to audition for that. But this was the first actual standard audition I have attended there.

And actually, it was one of the most thorough auditions I have been to in several years. Possibly because there quite a number of people there. About 15 I gather. (Which by the standards of the last few plays I have tried out for, is pretty large.)

The director, it turns out, is a friend of mine, with whom I have acted before. I didn't know that until I got there, I don't think. I thought he was just involved in it in some other fashion. But it is nice sometimes to know the director from previous work.

This director went through many different combinations of people reading with other people. It took longer than he thought, but I didn't care. I was taking it easy, staying relaxed in a theatre I am familiar but not intimate with. (Plus, where else did I have to be?)

I knew some of the people that were there. One guy from the single night reading I did back in the fall. A woman I was in Anything Goes with. And a man I have done two previous shows with, but not in several years.

Plus several faces that I could not place, but I am certain I have seen on the Apollo stage before.

As for the audition itself, I feel I started out a little rough. Not terrible, but it could have been better. I would sit down, others would read. I would be called back up with different assortments of people. After I few scenes, I started to warm up. By the end of the evening I was hitting a groove. Not bad at all, really for a total cold read. Before this, I knew only how it ended. I had never read the script or saw it performed.

There is a, shall we say, "flamboyant" character. I read for him once. I do not know what I think of my reading for that. I have never been that great with such characters. But I have rarely had to read for one either.

When I read for "Giles", the guy who owns this inn where the action takes place, i felt a little better. The director said we could try to sport accents, or not. I opted to for Giles because he is British, and I am fairly good at those.

Italian...that's another story.

I am sure my reading for that really sucked. I have never attempted an Italian accent before. I am not even sure if it WAS one. All I had to go on was Mario from Nintendo. And I don;t even think I sounded like him.

Then I read for the character of Sgt. Trotter. This is the policeman that warns everybody there is a murderer on the loose. For some reason, I opted not to give him an accent. I don't know why. I wanted to try something different, so I did a slightly harder version of my own voice..with a slightly lower register. I ended up reading for him more than the other characters, so I guess it didn't ruin the reading.

In the end, I reached my top potential for a cold read. I cannot complain, though I have no real feelings one way or the other. I do know that 23 people total tried out for the play, and there are only 8 slots. 5 men. I have no idea how many of the 23 were men. I think there were about ten of them there tonight.

In short, I have no idea what my chances are. But I will know one way or the other by Sunday, it seems. At which point, so will all of you.

So there you have it. I've not gone to an audition in such a last minute fashion since college. And back then the theater was across the street from my dorm.

Damn, I miss those days...

Monday, January 12, 2009


Happy New year, loyal blog readers. For the first post in 2009, I would, ironically, like to talk about the past, in a fashion.

I was recently flipping through a copy of The Importance of Being Earnest. Not a favorite play of mine, but a local theatre will, in the coming months, be producing it, and I am pondering as to whether or not I will audition for same.

Though I have never been in the play as a whole before, I was, in my college days, very much involved in parts of it. For a comedy workshop theatre class I was taking, groups of two were required to pair up, and prepare a scene from the play, to present to the class for critique.

I had read it in high school once, but had not performed it until this class in college.

Even back then, I took my job performing very seriously. I made sure that I embedded every word of every line into my head as best as I could. Visualizing the scene, going over it with my partner, and all of the other things I am known to do when preparing for a performance of any size. By the time of the critique, I am proud to say, I had it cold.

Yet, the intervening years have washed away the memory of which section of it I had been graded on in class.

Or so I thought until today.

As I read the play, the general familiarity with the characters, setting and language was present in my mind, from all my various exposures to it, before and after college. But then I came upon a particular line that went through my mind differently. In a quite literal sense, a different section of my mind processed this line than had the line before.

I read it again. Specific inclinations of my tongue and face to form themselves in certain ways as I read the line, and the ones that followed only confirmed what I had begun to suspect...I had reached the section of the play, the only section of the play that I had ever actually performed. Nearly seven years after the fact, with basically zero exposure to this play since then until tonight, and still a very specific section of my brain was lighting up as I read the lines I had once delivered as part of a performance. A section of my brain that does not come into play from only reading, or even memorizing something.

That to me, makes me proud of the job I did as a student back then. So consumed by the language, character, and lines of the performance was I, that they left a permanent mark on a very specific portion of my mind. Not just any memory. Stage memory.

Stage memory is a very specific type of memory. At least, for the actor, it should be. If you are not consumed by what you are saying and doing, you are only turning in part of a performance. Anyone can memorize anything that they study enough. To merely do this as an actor is to give a recital of lines in a certain sequence. It is not to perform them. There is a major difference, and audiences know it right away when all someone has done is memorize a sequence of words.

The true class acts in theatre don't just write the words on the tablet of their mind...they open their minds and spirits so that the script seeps slowly into all kinds of corners of the conscious, and of course, unconscious mind.

Now, I could not perform the scene cold after all these years without further study. But the grooves are their in my mind, cut into my thoughts as in a phonograph record. And while I cannot prepare for a play by saying, "I want to remember I said these particular lines seven years from now", the fact that I am able to do so does prove I was doing my job seven years ago.

May it always be so, for me and for all of you actors reading this, so long as we aspire to greatness on the stage.

And why would we aspire to less?