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12:29 pm - Mon 8/05/02
I sure can pick em

I Sure Can Pick 'Em

(A couple days ago, Bill H. e-mailed me, an e-mail starting with the line, "You sure can pick 'em...", regarding Corpus Christi, the play I'm going to be doing at the Coleman & Smith theater. He reiterated something I vaguely remembered from my own reading when the play first opened; It basically died upon opening, not so much from being "controversial" as just not being very good. Anyway, this is the response I just sent out to him.)

Well, I kind of didn't "pick" this one--It picked me.

When I checked my voicemail on Friday morning sometime, there was a message from the director of the one act play I did some months back. He said the theater was doing Corpus Christi, and the auditions were tomorrow night (I don't know what his involvement is in this particular show. He's not directing it, and he wasn't at the audition. Maybe someone asked him to call me because he knows me from the previous show. But anyway...)

I was flattered to be called, but I work Saturday nights, and it was too late at that point to change my schedule (And I also had a vague memory of the situation you described in your email), so I kind of thought, "Well thanks, but I probably have to take a pass".

Then I thought, "Jim, you've been crying about being bored and having nothing to do, how you don't feel like an actor when you're not acting, how you can't afford acting classes, and so forth, so you should at least do some follow-up here". So I called Mark, the director of my last show, leaving a message, and I called the theater, leaving another message, saying that if I could read for the director at some other time, I'd be game.

Well, it turned out the auditions were actually Friday night, which is one of my days off (I'd gotten the message Friday morning, but it had actually been from the night before, and I'd gotten a little confused). So there wasn't really any reason I couldn't do it, except for the fact that my bike had been stolen that afternoon, and I wasn't really in the mood (And it also meant I'd have to venture out in my car on a Friday night, which I never do). But when I was talking to my friend Cary about the bike, and I mentioned the audition, which I was thinking I wasn't going to do, he said, "Well, I'm not going to give you an 'out' on this one"; That's all he said, but it was enough to make me realize that, stolen bike notwithstanding, I had to go.

So I went. And at the end of the night, the director said "I want to cast you in this show".

Your email hits on one of my biggest "issues" out here, which is my huge fear of being in stuck in really bad shows. For most of the past twenty years, I've looked at what shows I really wanted to do. Shows that had a good role for me, with a good script, a good director. Shows I suspected would be the show in a particular season. I could pick and choose, because the only consideration was "Am I going to enjoy this experience?".

But here, I feel like I'm flying blind. I look at Backstage, and I have no idea, by and large, if a particular project is going to be worth doing. I send out headshots to just about anyone who has a project with a guy my age in it, and get no responses (It feels like you have to audition for the audition out here, basically). And I suspect a big chunk of work I'd be proud to be involved in is, at this juncture, simply not available to me, without an agent or a name or what-have-you.

I want to wait for the right things to come along, but I don't feel like I can wait my life away out here. And I know I'm not becoming a better actor by sitting around my apartment playing on my computer. And since I can't afford acting classes--and suspect that doing plays trumps acting classes anyway--trying to get in something, anything, out here, is the only way I can think of to "keep my hand in" as an actor (And if I suspect I'm not becoming a better actor by hanging around the house, playing on my computer, I know I'm not making any "connections" that way!).

But it leaves me feeling very...anxious. And it's confusing to me, because wanting to be in really good projects, having that desire, seems like a good thing. But if that desire leaves you overly cautious, bored and lonely, sitting on the sidelines, not doing anything and not meeting anybody, I guess it becomes a bad thing.

But on the potential plus side, I seem to be developing a "relationship" with this particular theater, which I think is a good thing, both in terms of having someplace to call "home", and looking good on the resume (Seems like a theater that has you back a few times would show that you've got the goods, are easy to work with, or both).

And in my "career" thus far, I've never played a gay character, so that alone might make the experience worthwhile (I'm feeling some chagrin at the notion that my first kiss in God knows how many years might be with a man onstage, and even more chagrin at the notion of doing nudity, partial or otherwise, but I think those are the kind of things, as an actor, that you're stronger for once you've done them and survived. That's what I'm telling myself right now, anyway!).

It's been two days since the audition, and I haven't heard anything back from anyone. The director said he wanted me in the show at the end of the night on Friday, but maybe he's had a change of heart for some reason (Do you sense I'm kind of hoping for a way out of this?). But I'm assuming, at this point, that I'm in this show, and will now begin the process of hoping for the best, and then working on making the best of a bad situation, if it comes to that.

(The director said we'd be playing multiple roles, but I'm kind of hoping that I'll get Judas. That was the scene he had me read, and I felt, from that couple of pages, that it was probably something I could play.)

I don't feel as good about this as I'd like to. I'd rather it was a show I was more enthused about, not to mention a show I was making money doing. But I've just got to keep telling myself that, at this point, "doing" beats "not doing", nobody gets to start at the top, and trust that if I'm good enough in enough things, something is going to happen for me out here.

Please think a good thought or two for me in that direction. I could use an experience that I just feel unequivocally good about.*

(*I just added that last line, which was not in my original e-mail...)


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