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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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How I Did As An Actor?



This was my third audition at Brunswick Little Theater. This audition was for a play that included 11 vignettes called “Maybe Baby, You’re the One.” I did okay.  The reading is a cold read in that you don’t have time to try multiple times. It is awkward and easy to mess up. The read was over before it began. Thinking I could do better with another read, the director moves on to someone else.

Four days later the director sends a text letting me know I was selected. I was ecstatic for two days then the doubt set in; what had I done? There are three rehearsals each week. The cast is there, well most of the cast. A couple of people are working their real jobs. Welcome to the world of community theater. There is the thrill of doing a play but no pay. The director lays out the schedule for the play. Scripts were not allowed after six rehearsals.

I have learned my lines while at the classes at Leland Cultural Arts Center, not memorize completely. The moment comes and I mount the stage with my partner for the first of my three scenes. I am somewhat confident but tense. I did well until the second paragraph. There is someone to prompt lines in the audience area. By the time you are done, you are sure this was a mistake and that you made a mistake and feel like you are in a bad dream. Fight or flight feelings kick in.

As we get closer to the big event there is more pressure. “Lines, Lines. Lines!” the director says every chance he can and then even more after that via text and email. Then the first and only dress rehearsal is scheduled the day before opening night. By this time, I was reading my scripts somewhere around ten times a day including rehearsals. I am now running my lines to myself wherever I was, home, grocery shopping …. The dress rehearsal starts with only two “audience members” and we are timing the play and hiding either behind the stage area or in the dressing rooms. The lights will be on and all the music, videos and off stage voice overs will be run. My first scene is “Blinding date.” I make it through my first 20 or so lines with some hiccups. There were some blank spots where I could not remember the next line as my mind is a blank. My partner helps and we make it through. Relieved, I leave the stage mad at myself for rookie errors.

The second scene required a rubber “wig” which is ridiculously stupid looking. The lines don’t interact directly so the prompting is not naturally conversational.  Right off the start, I blow the second line. It gets worse after that. This can be categorized as an eye opener or an omen of disaster.

The third scene went better but had it’s slips and crunching of lines. This leaves me in a cold sweat with opening night less than 24 hours. Everyone is looking upset. The director is totally green. There is one actor who has done this before and is a pro. He was the first to memorize his lines. He looked smug. I am reassured by my fellow actors-it will be okay. Yeah right.

Opening night. The real thing is happening. The actors stay in the dressing rooms while the audience enters and is admitted to the stage area. The illusion is that the actors just appear on the stage magically. In reality we just hide from the audience. The stage manger calls out the time till “places” are called out in minutes to go.

The play starts. Each scene’s actors position themselves to enter on queue to the videos’ completion. The actors in the following scenes hang out in the lobby or behind stage. The room behind stage is limited so that each set of actors is encouraged to wait in the lobby until just when their scene is next.

I am now getting ready to enter the stage waiting for my queue from the video. I am the only one on the stage alone at the beginning of the scene. I enter and sit down on the dark stage as the lights come up. I am keenly aware of sitting down and not knocking everything over. My lines start rolling from my head like I am reading music. I make it through the scene and exit the stage. I know the lines I blew or crunched into a total rewrite of the script. I await my next scene which holds new slips and miscues.

I have seven more nights and it is looking less than stellular. The last performance is on a Sunday, a matinee. It goes smoothly, I hit my mark and add something of me to the lines. It is not easy but certainly more enjoyable. At the after-play party, I am asked will I come back again. I had been working this question many days before. I answered, “Yes, I have learned a lot and need to learn much, much more. I would like do it again”

Oh my God what am I talking about?

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About the Contributor
Stan Washington, Contributing Writer
Stan Washington is a contributing writer for Cape Fear Voices.

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