Tonight we continued working on our audition sides.
The first woman to rehearse chose King Edward’s monologue, in which he expresses anger and regret at the execution of his brother. She was mesmerizing, performing with the absolute appropriate emotions, lots of vocal variety, and the “chewing on the words” that we strive for. We were all completely wowed by her work – she is often quiet and has trouble reading aloud, stumbling over words, so it was clear that she’d worked really hard on this piece.
The next woman to perform read Richmond’s monologue rallying the troops. Her first read felt natural to her, and we asked her to add more painting of pictures and really striving to get us on her side. “It’s like Sun Tzu’s ‘moral law’ in The Art of War,” she mused. Before she read again, I encouraged the ensemble to participate – to resist joining her until she had us convinced. This worked very well, with all of us eventually jumping to our feet, cheering, and even pounding on the tables with enthusiasm. The woman performing reflected that it felt very good to connect with her audience in that way – that the noise got her blood pumping and even made her feel primal.
Another woman who knows she will be absent for our audition day decided to do hers this evening. She read first for the Second Murderer. She is a natural with the language, and the scene worked very well. She then read the Richmond monologue, and we all agreed to participate the same way we had with the first woman who read it. She performed with great gusto, and we all ended up on our feet, shouting and pounding the tables again. We all applauded at the conclusion of the piece. “Thanks,” she joked, “I’ll be here for a couple more years.”
Three others then volunteered to read a side featuring Queen Margaret, Queen Elizabeth, and the Duchess. The first read clearly demonstrated that they understood what they were reading, but it lacked emotional commitment. One of the women admitted to the group that she had been scared – that it had been her first time doing anything like this. The whole group erupted in applause and praise for her. We then worked a bit on finding that emotional connection – whether through Stanislavksy’s “magic as if” or through a bit of Chekhov technique through which I guided the group. They read again and were more emotionally grounded. The woman reading Elizabeth asked if it was okay that she drew on her own experience to get at the character’s grief, to which I responded that this is an okay crutch to use in rehearsal, but that, for one thing, she needs to keep herself safe and withdraw from scene work if it ever starts feeling dangerous, and for another, that she will need to let go of that in performance so she is telling her character’s story and not her own.
It was a very productive, warm meeting. Everyone is clearly preparing for auditions and casting, and, while there is competition for some of the roles, I haven’t gotten a sense of the kind of drama that has colored the past few casting processes. We’ll see if we can sustain our current positive feeling.
Tonight during check-in, several people shared that they were nervous about auditions – a couple of people even said they might forego their auditions out of anxiety. While I made sure everyone knew that auditions were not required, an ensemble member who was in the group last year encouraged everyone to push through that fear. “We’re all in it together,” she reminded us.
Everyone present ended up participating, either by auditioning, reading with another ensemble member, or both. Everyone had clearly worked on their sides – readings were intelligent and thoughtful. After one woman read for Margaret, the woman who volunteered to be her “other” remarked, “I think she did good because I feel like I hate her now!”
Another woman was clearly very nervous to read Richard’s opening soliloquy. She wants the part very badly. As she entered the playing area, another woman said, “Find your center… do your Frannie!” The whole group, including the woman, laughed, and she did her Frannie impression, which is hilarious. This seemed to calm her a bit, and she had a great reading.
Then the woman who read King Edward so beautifully on Tuesday read the piece again. “You’re awesome!” said another ensemble member. “How come you don’t read more often in class?” The woman shrugged, saying, “I don’t know.” The first woman said, “Well, I’m gonna start bugging you!”
A woman who had expressed extreme anxiety about auditioning then volunteered to read. Everyone cheered as she stood and walked into the playing area. After she read, a longtime ensemble member said, “You don’t even seem like you have anxiety!” And then she read again!
We wrapped up as people cast their votes via anonymous ballots and decided to end early since a number of people had to leave early anyway. I will be tallying up the votes this weekend and distributing a cast list on Tuesday.