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TBA Online: News & Features: February 2012

The Audition, Part 1: A First-Timer Prepares

Monday, January 30, 2012   (0 Comments)
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By Julie Antti

Like most people, I find auditions nerve-wracking. However, auditions that required a prepared monologue I find terrifying. Typically, I've avoided auditions that require prepared monologues like a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a sweltering summer's day. In college I had to write and perform a monologue as part of a class, and I bombed. I didn't prepare well enough, and I had not memorized the piece. I thought it would go fine since I wrote it, but when I got up to perform it my severe stage fright took over, and I honestly don't fully remember what I did. I faked it, and it was bad. I still carry that embarrassment. I have always felt that an audition with a cold read is better. Everyone at the audition is on the same page; no one has ever read the materials, and everyone is reading from the script that they will potentially be performing. But since a cold read is impossible at the General Auditions, until now I have simply avoided them.

Actor Julie Antti. Photo: Martin Cooper

I believe I first heard of Theatre Bay Area's General Auditions after I moved to the Bay Area in 2001, but due to my great fear of choosing and learning the appropriate monologue, it mostly fell off my radar. This past November, a good friend and fellow actor convinced me that, with all my experience and training, I would do well in the Generals—and talked me into applying. I became excited at the notion, found some confidence, and on the last day possible sent in my application, headshot and resume. I figured that I might not get chosen; after all, it was my first year applying. So, I shoved the possibility of being picked into the back of my mind. I was proud of myself just for making the effort, and I focused on the production I was currently involved with, and enjoying the holidays.

I was super surprised and excited when I received notice of my acceptance and receipt of an audition time. But then...I realized that I must go through with this and find the perfect monologue, whatever that means. No easy task indeed. I started reading up on auditions. I started with Michael Shurtleff's book, "Audition," – but it didn't tell me which monologue to choose, nor did it discuss this type of mass audition. It was suddenly January, and with my audition on February 4th at 4:45 p.m., I felt desperate. I could feel my stomach dropping as I pictured myself bombing again, like that monologue years ago. But this time it won't be just my class watching, it will be prestigious theatres. Theatres with whom I long to perform. 

Frantic, I pulled out and skimmed all the plays in which I have previously performed to find a good character and monologue, but I doubted and questioned any possible piece that I looked at. Everything I had was Shakespearean, or was untouchable because they went against some (very helpful) audition suggestions written by Melissa Hillman and published by Theater Bay Area. I then posted on Facebook to see if my friends might have some good suggestions. Luckily, they did! So off to the library I went. 

I found the plays they suggested, and with the help of the patient staff I found a bunch of additional monologue books. I crammed like I was back in school. I wanted a monologue that was funny and physical, two of my strengths. And I found it—my TBA Generals monologue. 

Honestly, I thought the piece I'd chosen was really funny when I first read it, but now I'm having doubts and fear that it actually won't be funny. I saw a video of it being performed, and it wasn't as funny as it was when I read it. I don't know if I can pull it off. But there is no turning back; it's just too late to find something else. I've had some help from friends to learn the piece, and some other friends scheduled a viewing to give me the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, but I had to cancel that due to a wedding that I'd forgotten about. I'm hoping that it'll be possible to reschedule.

Although my monologue is chosen, there are still loose ends to tie up. Last week I had a new set of headshots taken by a photographer friend, and now I must decide which of the 301 photos is the best headshot; in the meantime, I need to find a printer. I also need help with my resume. I sent it to friends, but they haven't responded for over a week, and I don't know if that means it is bad or they haven't looked at it yet. I guess I'm being impatient or paranoid, but either way, I just wish I knew. My resume has been the same for years; I like the way it is formatted, and would prefer not to change it. But I do worry that perhaps the formatting is not traditional, and needs to be changed. I wish there were someone to sit down with me and say, "Julie, here is the monologue for you! Learn it and you will get their attention." or "Your resume should looks great, don't change a thing." or "Here is the best headshot." Alas, there is no one who can do that for me. I will just need to make the best decisions I can for now, and hope for the best. I have signed up for the "Dress Rehearsal" offered by Theatre Bay Area; I'm hoping that session will give me some encouragement, confidence, and maybe direction, at least with my monologue. 

During all of this, I am also attempting to maintain two bands, who have been incredible and understanding. Now, I just need to put movement in my piece, and do some serious calming down and breathing. I have so much to do and there's so little time. It doesn't seem possible, but I know, just like many shows I've been in, that although it may seem impossible now, it will happen and it will be good.

Julie Antti is a Bay Area performer with a background in gymnastics, dance and comedy, and was recently the star of ShEvil Dead. She also loves playing music with her two bands: Bugs in Costumes and The HoneyBelles.