Archive for December, 2008

Audience Turns Into Snoring Contest

Matinees always suck. The energy is weird. The audience is weird. You have to comp old age homes to get people in the seats. One matinee, there was an elderly couple asleep in the front row throughout the whole show. Front and center, you couldn’t miss them. The man let out an occasional snore. Really made you feel good about what you were doing. One of the actors in the show kept pacing backstage and saying, “ What I want to know is…if they are BOTH sleeping, whose idea was it to GO OUT? Huh? Whose idea was it to GO OUT?”

At another matinee, I was working on an experimental theater piece where the main character dragged herself around the stage and drooled the entire show. I remember watching spit strings the were lit up by the stage lights slowly coming out of her mouth and stringing themselves down to the floor. I heard shuffling in the audience and a bunch of EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE MES, as some people left while the show was in progress. While other audience members were shushing them for making a commotion as they left. They were once again front and center. WHY WHY WHY? Inspiring, huh? Can you imagine doing that? I recently sat through a musical written by a non-musical playwright that was scary bad and my friend and I wouldn’t leave DURING INTERMISSION because we were in the first row center and we wouldn’t do that to the actors. We would never leave those two seats front row empty for the world, and especially the actors to see.

So, anyway, after the show, I met a couple of friends for a bite to eat down the block. When I walked in, two elderly women looked at me and said. “OH. YOU WERE IN THAT SHOW!” I answered, “Ah, yea.” “OH HONEY,” THEY SAID, “WE HAD TO LEAVE. WE’RE SQUEAMISH. BUT YOU WERE GOOD. YEA, WE LIKED YOU. BUT WE COULDN’T STAY. WE CAN’T WATCH SOMETHING LIKE THAT.”

Now my question is, why did they even tell me? Wouldn’t it have been better not to bring it up?   Did they have to bring it up? I wouldn’t have recognized THEM.

Famous Actor Follows Breast Around All Day

There is a pecking order on large films. There are people who count and people who don’t. This was never more apparent then when I did stand-in and extra work for a period film. I had to be dressed by a wardrobe woman in an authentic turn of the century outfit. It was very very very hot. Only the craft services room had air conditioning. We were in an old school building in Jersey,

One morning, the wardrobe woman was dressing me. We were in a stifling, small; closet sized, dressing room that was created by curtains. I had on tights, a black satin skirt and she had just finished tying up the corset, when she heard the lead actor’s voice outside. He was the latest himbo. She heard him and just flew out of the dressing room and left me there. All the wardrobe women were standing around admiring the new bloomers they had made for him. I’m not kidding. Bloomers.

I’m dying. It’s stifling. I can’t get the blouse on by myself. I’m waiting. I’m waiting. I can’t go out there. I’m in a corset. I can’t breathe. I’m dying. The corset is synched so tight I couldn’t slouch and I didn’t know if laughing was a possibility. Unfortunately, I am well endowed, and a corset makes large girls look gargantuan. They are pushed up to my chin. I finally can’t stand it anymore, and quietly walk out of the dressing room.   Wardrobe woman glances at me and says’ “Oh, sorry.” Like she forgot I was in there. She was mesmerized by the bloomers. She goes back to admiring the bloomers and their contents.

I try to act casual and not attract attention. Unfortunately, the corset makes unobtrusiveness impossibility. Himbo is staring. He says, “Hello.” I say hey and look annoyed and turn away. Stupid men love you when you ignore them; I learned that in high school when the most popular guy in tow towns was dating me. I used to say, “Go away” a lot. He became obsessed.

So that did it. Himbo makes eye contact with me the rest of the morning. Introduces himself. He actually sits with me at lunch! I kid you not. Himbos don’t sit with extras. He carries a Leica with him, and he takes my picture as I’m sitting across from him and we chat. One of the supporting actresses comes over and sits next to me because she wants to be near him. She actually tells him what a great body he has. “You do, you really do”, she says. I find this kind of embarrassing and repulsive all rolled into one. The minute I finish my lunch I jump up and toss my tray and head out of there. Himbo looks confused that I would walk away. But as impressive as all this sounds, I saw him the week before trailing another extra he took a liking to. He never noticed me that day. Oh no, not until the girls came marching out.

Callback Disrupted By Hat

Had a callback yesterday for a film. The director was having me read with an actress who is already cast. You could tell she was already cast, as she felt no need to impress anyone and was 20 minutes late.

We go into the room where we’re going to film the audition and she sits down and she is wearing a kinda huge, loud plaid hat pulled down over her eyebrows. I’m going to be reading an emotional scene where my son is in a coma and I’m not feeling the hat.   Who wears a hat at an audition? The hat had nothing to do with her character or the scene. THE HAT WAS TAKING OVER. I ask; “Ah, um, would you possibly, ah, would it be ok if you took off the hat?” “NO”, she says and looks uncomfortable. Ok, so I’ll do the scene with the hat. “I’d just like to see your face.” I say. “Oh” she says and pushes it up above her eyebrows. Then she says; “I’m not emotionally prepared or anything. I mean I’m not ready to really do the scene. I don’t think I’m going to be able to give you anything.”

Did she just fall in here unsuspecting off the sidewalk? Did she not know she was coming? I tell her, “Just relax and be natural and don’t push, it’s OK.” Even when people are obnoxious you have to help them because otherwise it will screw you up.

After we read, we are and walking out together I ask her if she is having a bad hair day.   For the first time she becomes animated and says; “YES! I got up today and just decided fuck it, and I didn’t wash my hair. THAT’S WHY I’M WEARING THE HAT!” I tell her I did the same thing because it’s raining. Washing your hair on a rainy day and going to a film audition is artistic suicide. Guaranteed big frizzy hair – bad on camera. “I flat ironed dirty hair before I came here” I say. “YOU DID?” She says with an amazed AH-HAH look on her face like that is the most ingenious thing she’s ever heard. I think I just saved the next person she will audition with from THE HAT.

Acting Teacher Comments Fat Ass or No Fat Ass?

I continue to go to acting class. Keep going because if I don’t I will become a hack due to the level of directors I generally work with who love, love love blocking. Have a great but extremely inscrutable teacher. Like he didn’t say hello to me for the first like eight years. Chose him because I no longer wanted a teacher who wanted to get inside my head. I know a teacher who announced the first day of class; “I’m going to mind fuck every one of you.” They ask you what sad experience you are thinking about in a scene. They can get really personal. I had had it with that, and Mr. Inscrutable is perfect for me. And like every other young actress, I fell in love with my first acting teacher and felt like a complete idiot for doing so. So a man who won’t even say hello to me is a really good thing. If your work isn’t what it should be he actually gets angry. Which seems horrible. But it’s really a great thing. Because what most of the world views as silly, in his class becomes IMPORTANT.

Last night an actress in class who is on network TV right now started babbling before she would even start her scene. She was eating a lot and she couldn’t figure out why. “I can’t believe it. I was over a friend’s house and I ate popcorn and candy and I would never do that. Then when I’m on set, I take big plates of cookies back to my dressing room and I eat them all. I had a fitting with wardrobe, and a pair of pants that fit me two weeks ago, don’t fit anymore. I can’t figure out what is going on with me, I stopped my scene partner in the middle of Union Square and made him look at my butt and tell me if it’s big or not. I don’t even know what I really look like. And I haven’t been exercising either. I don’t know what is going on. What do you think? Is it Ok?” Mr. Inscrutable is looking confused and uncomfortable with this line of questioning. All he says is, “AS LONG AS YOU DON’T BLOW UP.”

I get him talking about a famous actor who was in that week’s New York Times Magazine. He seems nutty. Mr. Inscrutable says; “He was a fabulous actor, really had something and then he decided he was a STAR. He was working on a movie and wouldn’t come out of his trailer for two days. Well the financing for the movie came from someone “connected”, so two very large men came and knocked on his trailer door and explained to him why he needed to go back to work. They were huge.” Can you believe that? It doesn’t just happen in Woody Allen movies.

Church Tortures Actors

Had a call back for “The Man Who Came To Dinner”. An old chestnut. Does anyone want to see an old chestnut like this on anymore? Doubt it. But I guess since a church was producing it, they are limited by content to anything written before1959.
I was given an audition time of 6:30 p.m. Entered the room and there were 25 actors who also had the time of 6:30 p.m. Usually I would leave, but there was someone there I knew, so I stayed. We chatted, but by the time I got in the audition room I had been there way too long and was thoroughly pissed off. The monitor used the wrong name when she introduced me. I actually gave a good audition and got a lot of laughs from them. Seemed like they loved me. But by this time, I HATED THEM.
I was so mad at myself for waiting that long, the first thing the next morning I sent an email to them. Luckily, the email they had sent me with the info had the emails of the entire staff of the church. Here is a copy of the email I sent to everyone involved in the audition, and some individuals who weren’t (including the pastor):

Dear Fifth Avenue Church,

I have to tell you I am appalled at your treatment of actors at last night’s call back. Why is it OK to waste actor’s time and make them wait up to 2 hours because you can’t be bothered to assign appointment times? I’ve produced theater myself and it really isn’t that hard to give each actor a time slot.
As you are a Christian organization, I am quite surprised that you would treat people this way. In the future, I suggest that you ask yourself how the golden rule would apply in this situation.
Felt a little Norma Raeish, Maybe next time they will treat my fellow actors better.

Audition for “30 Rock”?!!

Another actor blog? I promise not to do the usual “Wow, I got a CALLBACK CALLBACK CALLBACK!!” type of actor blog.  ‘Cause that would make me NAUSEOUS NAUSEOUS NAUSEOUS!!  No, there will be no headshot included, or link to my online videos.  My name will be fictionalized so I can actually tell the truth and not try to sound LIKE I’M DOING REALLY WELL.  No, there will be true unglossified stories of auditions and weirdness that is a part of my life.

I got from a casting director on a Saturday asking me if I was interested in a doing a bit on a major prime time hit television show. Ah yea, the answer would be yes! Opposite a major “Mad Men” star. OMG!! Could I meet the director on Monday morning at 10am at Silvercup Studios? Ah ah ah the D D D D D Director?

Now, I don’t get to meet directors of hit sitcoms. No no no, I’m the queen of student films. I planned my outfit, went to Hop Stop to figure out how to get there. Skipped that. Took a car. Stressed about the fact that I had a paying job in Manhattan that started at 11am. Hmmm. The money gig versus the audition is a very clear case of bird in hand.

The first sign that this wasn’t going to be the appointment I expected, was when I was sent to sit in a big barren “holding room” that is used for holding extras and was also a sad-looking cafeteria with that horrid cafeteria smell. Two other women up for the same role were already there, reading their newspapers. An uncommunicative PA came in the room and had us fill out papers. When I told him I had to leave by 10:30 because I had work, his response was; “What you’d do that for?” Then one of the actresses tells me she once waited 10 hours to see Robert DeNiro. Eh? I’m starting to vibrate with anxiety about being late for my freelance gig. Freelance means they are always free to hire someone else. The PA ignores me until my stares finally elicit a response and he talks on his walkie-talkie and tells me to follow him. We go down to the offices. When we get off the elevator he points to a couch and says very firmly; “Sit there.” What does he think I’m gonna do? Run around and ransack the offices? Try and do monologues for any living moving person I can find? Shove headshots at people? After a few minutes, a woman, I think she is the 2nd A.D., sticks her head out of her office door and says; “They changed the script over the weekend. She’s a shriveled old woman now. You can go.” You can go!! YOU CAN GO? No sorry you had to come all the way here?” No consideration of the fact that Silvercup Studios is NOT CONVENIENTLY LOCATED!! Oh no. Just: “YOU CAN GO”. Nice. I ran to the train and luckily one pulled in right away. Ran from the subway to the job and made it. In what universe are people this rude? The acting universe. In ten seconds, the excitement of prime time, director, working opposite star are out the window with one sentence from a nameless woman.


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December 2008

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