Monday, 2 July 2012

No Direction

Readers of my blog will know that there are many things I do like. If something falls outside the loved ones, crisps and Community circle then it’s probably safe to say that I’ll have something bad to say about it. So, you can probably guess what my thoughts are on monologues and what I want to do to people who dare ask me to prepare them for an audition.

If you’ve ever been or have attempted to attend a drama school then you will have encountered a monologue. Chances are you’ve spent hours, days, weeks scouring plays in the vain hope of finding a bit of speech that’s more than a few lines long that you could potentially perform to a panel of strangers. Once you find that said chunk of text, you then have to check that the character is of the same sex and preferably of a similar age. You then have to make sure that it’s not everyone else’s monologue of choice and once all those boxes have been ticked, you’re good to go. Time to get pacing around your bedroom and desperately learning someone else’s out of context words.

I understand why people ask you to prepare monologues as it gives them a chance to see you perform a decent amount of script and also lets them see how good you are at interpreting a piece of text. But really what it ends up being is an exercise in memorising a piece of text, working on it manically and getting just a few lines to a good enough standard to perform. It doesn’t show how well you work with other actors, how well you take direction or if you’re capable of natural-looking dialogue. So, you can imagine my annoyance when I was asked to prepare not one but two whole monologues for an audition.

Now, I find the times I actually get asked to perform a speech at an audition has dwindled as much as my ability to fight a hangover. I have a couple that I can whip out at a moment’s notice but they’re used so rarely that even they have become pretty dusty. But this casting had specifics. They had to be from specific plays so I was then faced with the frankly rather dull task of reading two plays that I’m not particularly keen on to find myself two whole new speeches to learn. They, of course, had to be contrasting in tone and finally, despite neither play having particularly wonderful female characters, I found my speeches. So the last few days has been spent preparing them so that they were ready for their great unveiling today.

I got to the audition to see a man in the waiting room refusing to leave until the casting director took his CV. It got to the point where he actually put it in her hand and in the end she gave in and asked him to come back later where they’d squeeze him in for an audition. He skipped out calling everyone ‘diamond’ and I scowled. A lot. Soon after I went in and after a brief chat, I was asked to perform my monologues. Did the first one, went ok. Had a ‘that was nice’ from the director. I stood and waited, expecting to be directed because that’s what normally happens. ‘So, can we see your next speech please?’ Oh ok. Obviously they’re going to see both and then work on one of them. I do the second one which is greeted with, ‘Well that was nice.’ Nice? Lovely and nice? You’d use more descriptive words for a blank piece of paper. So I stood again, waiting for my direction. Nope. Nothing. I was thanked for coming in and that was it. Time to be released back into the world. Not even giving a bit of direction and asking directors to at least try the speech again is really lazy. They have no idea how well, or poorly, I take direction. For all they know, I might enter a screaming fit of diva rage the second someone asks me to think about the emotions of the piece. 

So I’m back in the land of no upcoming auditions with a couple of unwanted monologues still aimlessly wandering around my brain. If anyone wants them then they’re yours for a cup of tea and a Wagon Wheel.

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