Saturday, 27 October 2012

Talking Workshop

Regular readers of my blog will know how much I despise workshop auditions. Those of you who are new to my inane, acting-related ramblings will have probably already picked up on just how much they make my skin crawl. A quick recap for those of you who have wandered onto unknown territory or just incase you're of forgetful mind, workshop auditions are the work of the devil. While they're wonderful for the casting team, they're hell on badly burnt toast for us actors. Otherwise perfectly charming actors are turned into monsters as the audition room is turned into a gladiatorial ring and suddenly shouting and over-emoting become the unwanted order of the day. Suddenly everyone thinks they need to overact and shout over one another just to make sure that they're the one that gets noticed. And the workshop audition I attended this week was really no expection.

I've attended many a workshop audition in my lifetime. They can be tedious - one I attended a while back asked us to partake in the counting game. To those of you lucky enough to have not played this game, it requires a group of actors to stand in a circle and maybe have their eyes closed. You then, as a group have to count to twenty. I know, I know, this sounds a tough ask for a gaggle of actors anyway but it gets worse. The point is that only one of you speaks at a time and if two of you say a number together then you have to start all over again. The director for this particular show was insistent that we make it which meant 30 minutes of this workshop was dedictaed to us essentially waiting around for someone to do a number two. Wonderful. And then there are the absurd ones. You haven't lived until you've been asked to get into a group of four and spend five seconds making yourselves into a collective electric toothbrush.

But the one this week was in a entirely different, utterly incompetent league of its own. Firstly, it was held in a church. And no, not the church hall or a little back room, THE ACTUAL CHURCH.  It was also held in such a residential area that if I were to get lost, I'd have had to knock on someone's door to ask for directions. It was essentially an open audition and it appeared that I was mainly auditioning alongside 16 year olds who were all obsessed with asking each other if their hair looked OK and whether everyone thought they looked old enough to get into a club. I was so old compared to these embryo-aged sprites that it was only a matter of seconds before I became the wise old owl and found myself being asked all matter of acting advice. What should've been an audition room very quickly turned into a thespian version of Prime Minister's Questions and, like Cameron, I lied my way through it like a trooper.

Just as I was telling a slip of a thing that Gumtree was definitely the place to find the best castings, we were finally called to take our place amongst the pews. And what ensued was a depressing 90 minutes of some of the worst improvisation that I've ever seen. I'm not saying I'm a master improviser, however I'm proud to say that the second someome asks me to pretend that I'm meeting someone for the first time, I don't suddenly launch into an argument. It was incredible the amount of shouting people did. Just because you want to get noticed, it doesn't mean you have to scream that someone's a bitch the second the scene starts. For one scene, we were asked to take on a high status character and, yet again, people just shouted and screamed at each other. And, for some reason, there were a lot of lesbian love triangles and strip clubs being created. Like the worst casting call coming to life before my very upset eyes, everyone seemed to think that the way to get noticed was either to pretend that they were getting their kit off or asking Kitty if she wants to have it off. Apparently showing a director that you're happy to wiggle your bum in the face of another woman is the key to getting work. Sadly they're probably right.

The worst part was when we were asked to create longer improvised scenes. We were put into groups, given 10 minutes rehearsal time (don't get me started on being given rehearsal time for an improvisation...) and told to create a scene. It was a shambles. Instead of just trying things out, the group I was in insisted on planning every single little line and move and look they were going to do and discuss just how many arguments they could crowbar in. Thankfully it seemed that every other group suffered the same fate and when it was time to watch everyone else's, it was messier than a Friday night in Harlow. Instead of showing the director just how good they were at performing, all they did was prove just how gifted they are at shouting over someone else's loud wails. And, to be fair, if that's the main criteria for the role then the director is going to have a tough job selecting just one.

I'm just hoping that the director decides they're looking for a scowling woman who has flashes of murderous twitches when a teenager starts to raise their voice over a lesbian foetus. If that's what they wanted then I'd be the most successful actress of all time...

1 comment:

  1. That takes me right back to high school drama lessons. Of course, back then it was made slightly more tolerable by the fact that it was just a case of our teacher trying to find something to keep us occupied for two hours, and it wasn't as if we had anywhere else to be, but... Uuurgh. My sympathies.