Et in Arcadia Ego

 

Auditioning -- Part 1

"Hi, Liz, this is Sarah Daugherty calling, from the Light Opera Guild. Give me a call when you've got a chance. I wanted to talk to you about last week's ‘Follies' auditions."

Strange how such an innocent-sounding phone message can give me such an adrenaline rush. I replayed Sarah's message to double-check the phone number she left, and dialed right away. My fingers were trembling a little with nervous excitement, but I managed to hit all the right numbers on the phone's keypad.

In the short time that I waited for Sarah to answer the phone, I mentally reviewed last week's audition. The audition panel had liked my song, hadn't they? I had noticed the music director nodding in rhythm at one point, and one of the women on the panel had been smiling at me. It was a good song for my voice -- Steven Sondheim's "Not A Day Goes By," from Merrily We Roll Along. Doing a song from Follies would have been better, since the audition panel always preferred to hear how you sounded on something from the show, but there just wasn't anything appropriate. The character I wanted had several songs, but they were all duets or trios -- horrible for audition material. At least I had found something by the same composer.

And the reading had gone well, hadn't it? My acting abilities weren't spectacular, but they were plenty good enough for a local community theater whose song-and-dance regulars tended to focus on exactly that: singing and dancing. I knew I wasn't the best actress they had, but at least I knew that there were people who were worse than I was. And the character I wanted wasn't much of a dancer, so they shouldn't mind that I didn't go to dance auditions. And...

"Hello? Oh, Liz, hi! How are you?"

Enough with the small talk, Sarah -- get to the important stuff! Tell me if I got cast in the show!

"Well, anyway, I called you earlier because I wanted to tell you that you got a part in Follies! You've been cast as Young..."

Sally, I thought. Young Sally! Fabulous!! I got the part!!!

"...Stella. Now, she has a little bit of dancing, which I know you don't really do, but the director thinks she can choreograph it so it won't be too difficult."

Young Stella? Say that again? Who in the world is Young Stella??

"Now, do you have any questions?"

You bet I do! Young Stella? Then who got Young Sally?

Sarah must have been wondering about the silence on my end of the phone line. Finally I trusted myself to speak. "Um, Sarah? Just who is Young Stella, exactly?"

Young Stella, as it turned out, was a glorified chorus member. About the only thing separating her from the general ensemble was the fact that she had a name. She was in one big ensemble number, but she had no vocal solos, and absolutely no lines. And I was supposed to be excited about this?

This was my reward for working so hard to improve my voice over the past year? What was the point of all those voice lessons if I never got to perform? Hadn't the director noticed how much better my voice was since my last audition? I was tremendously annoyed, but I tried hard not to let too much of it show.

"Well, Sarah," I said at last, "I appreciate the offer, but I'm going to have to refuse the part."

To Sarah, who is one of the Guild's favorite character actresses, and who had gotten exactly the roles she wanted in the last three Guild shows, the idea of refusing a part was utterly incomprehensible. "Oh, Liz, no! Come on, it's going to be such a fun show! Do you want to take a day to think about it and call me back later?"

"No, I don't need to think about it. To be honest, I was hoping for a much bigger role, and Young Stella just doesn't appeal to me."

Sarah managed to sound personally affronted. "Well, the director will be disappointed. She was counting on you, since you did say on your audition sheet that you'd take a role other than your first choice."

Hmph. On my audition sheet, I had actually written that I would consider a lesser part -- depending on the part. It's what I always said, and no director I'd worked with had ever interpreted it as an agreement to gratefully accept any role they deigned to offer me -- let alone the puny consolation prize of a role like Young Stella.

"Are you sure you won't join us?" Sarah was still trying to convince me.

"Sarah, I'm sorry, but you know I have a lot of other demands on my schedule. If I can't have the part I want, it's just not worth my time."

Sarah didn't respond right away, and I suddenly realized how that must have sounded. Imagine anyone saying that the almighty Light Opera Guild wasn't worth their time! Dammit, now I'll get myself labeled as a diva. I tried to make a smooth recovery, but it just wasn't working, so I gave up before I dug myself in any deeper.

If anything, Sarah sounded even more personally wounded than before -- and not a little huffy, too. "Well, Liz, that's too bad. We'll miss you, but I hope you come see the performances."

I assured her I would, thanked her for calling, and hung up the phone. No one else on my office hallway seemed to notice my groan of frustration, so it must have sounded loud and anguished only to me. I hoped I hadn't totally sabotaged my chances of ever getting cast in a Guild show again.

However, even if the wording had been less than perfect, the overall thought was true. Why waste my precious free time on a part that I was unhappy with? There were always other auditions, right? (And I mean always -- for such a relatively small city, this town has an astonishing number of community theater groups, each of which does three or four shows per year.)

So, if I couldn't do anything with the Light Opera Guild, who was left? The City Players? No, they were just about to start their performance run of You Can't Take It With You -- it would be weeks before they had auditions for their next show. However, that next show was Ten Little Indians. An Agatha Christie murder mystery could be a lot of fun on stage!

The other big theater group in town was the Main Stage Company. They hadn't had any auditions for months, since their last two shows had featured touring companies or visiting actors. And they were an intimidating group to consider, since they were the only theater group who performed at least one Shakespeare play every year. Still, nothing ventured...

A quick look in the phone book gave me the number for their box office. "Hi, I wanted to find out if you have any auditions coming up in the next few weeks?"

"Oh, sure! Auditions for Tom Stoppard's Arcadia will be in two weeks -- Monday and Tuesday, seven o'clock at the theater."

Arcadia? I had heard good things about it, and I was familiar with the playwright, Tom Stoppard. I adored Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and The Real Inspector Hound was pretty funny. But could I handle an honest-to-goodness play? I focused primarily on musicals because then my acting skills (such as they were) could be camouflaged behind my singing skills.

In fact, I had only ever auditioned for one real play, back in Wisconsin, when one of the theater companies was doing Little Women for its Christmas show. I didn't get into the play, but the director had told me she was very impressed with my audition, and the only reason I didn't get cast as Jo was that she finally decided she wanted slightly younger actresses to play the four March sisters.

Arcadia. Well, here goes nothing...

 

Auditioning -- Part 2

In some activities, gossip is an annoying nuisance. In theater, it is a necessity. Theater people usually know everything about other theater people, and if they don't, they know another theater person who does. So, to prepare for my audition, I took the obvious first step: researching the competition.

"Evie? Hi! How are you? I hear you got a part in Follies! Congratulations."

"Liz! Hiya, sweetie. Yeah, I got a part -- I'm just in the chorus, but I also get to double up on a role and play Marge. She just shows up in the song ‘Buddy's Blues,' so it's not a huge part or anything. The director picked me for it because she knows I can dance. So, are you going to be in the show?"

"No, they offered me Young Stella, but I turned it down. I just couldn't afford to make the time commitment for rehearsals if I didn't get a big part. And this is one of those shows where almost everyone has to be at every single rehearsal."

Evie made a noise of agreement. "Yeah, I know how that goes. There will probably be rehearsals five or six nights a week, so I can understand why you might not have time for that. I don't mind being in the chorus, though, because at least I get to dance."

"Yeah, you get to be a showgirl again, like you were in The Will Rogers Follies. How many shows in a row have you had to wear some skimpy costume?"

"I've stopped counting. It's great incentive for sticking to my exercise plan, though!"

"So, how do you think the cast will be? Won't it be strange having such a big age difference between the older characters and the younger ones?"

"Well, I doubt the cast will really bond together like we did for Man of La Mancha, but watching all of the older actors work will be a lot of fun. A couple of them were around when the Guild was founded, and that was fifty years ago!"

"That's amazing. And they're still singing? Just think of all the acting tips you can pick up from them!"

"So, if you're not going to do Follies, what are you going to do? Just sit around and enjoy your free time until the Guild announces its summer shows?"

"There's always that option, assuming I can find some free time to enjoy," I chuckled. "But...the Main Stage Company is having auditions in a couple of weeks for Arcadia. I thought I might give that a shot."

"That sounds cool. What's it about?"

"Well, it's kind of a weird play -- but it's by Tom Stoppard, so you kind of expect that. Brilliant, but weird. The action alternates between the 19th Century and the present, and the main action involves the people in the present trying to figure out what happened in the 19th Century. Based on the letters and books and stuff they left behind, that is -- except for the last scene, the characters from each century aren't even on stage at the same time, and even when they are, they don't interact at all."

"Wow. Sounds complicated. And is there a particular part you want?"

"It is complicated. There's a whole lot of other action that's happening, but it's hard to explain. Anyway, I'd like to play this character named Hannah Jarvis -- she's the lead female in the 20th Century part of the play. She has some wonderful scenes, and I think I'm about right for the part -- physically, anyhow."

"Do you know if Bethany Cline is auditioning?"

"Haven't the slightest idea. Who's she?"

"Don't you know her? A little older than us, not too tall, blonde hair? She's always in everything that the Main Stage Company does. As soon as I saw her at auditions for Witness for the Prosecution, I gave up any hope of getting the lead role. I just made up my mind to be the second best actress at auditions, so I wasn't surprised when I only got the supporting part."

"She's that good?"

"She's very good, and the people at the Main Stage Company know her really well. It's easy for them to cast her, since they're sure she'll give a good performance. If there's a really good female role in Arcadia, she'll probably get it."

"And I was hoping there wouldn't be too much competition. Too bad."

"Is there any other role in the play she might want? I mean, besides the one you want?"

I sighed. "Not really. I mean, there is another really important female role -- in the 19th Century part of the play. But it's written for a much younger person. I doubt she'd even look at it, and there's no way I would get cast for it. Well, there is a supporting part I suppose I could do...she has some funny lines, at least." I thought morosely of the role of Lady Croom -- well, if I had 15 years subtracted from my age for my last big part, there was no reason I couldn't add 15 years for the next.

"I'd get familiar with the role, anyway. When did you say auditions were?"

"In two weeks."

"Well, break a leg! Call me and tell me about it when you're done."

After a few more minutes of general chatting, I said goodbye to Evie and hung up the phone. For about half an hour I fumed over Bethany Cline. It was terribly discouraging to think that I might not get cast in the play because of her, whoever she was. As my grumbling subsided, I tried to think more positively: she might not even audition. She might not like the play enough. She might be out of town that week. She might be sick that week. Yeah, that's it...a convenient cold. Or pneumonia. Or whooping cough. Or smallpox!

On the other hand, there was always the possibility that I could give a better audition and get the part in spite of her.

Yeah, right.

 

Auditioning -- Part 3


I didn't bother to tell any of my co-workers why I was trying so hard to leave the office on time on the day of the audition. They might have been politely interested, but not one of them would really have understood. I mean, a few of them would probably need look up the word "audition" in a dictionary! It's certainly nowhere to be found in the shelves of engineering reference books that line the offices in my building. (The monolithic 2,336-page Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook -- yes; The Actor's Method -- no.) However, even if they knew the definition, they would hardly be likely to comprehend why I would want to do such a thing.

Somehow I managed. A five o'clock precisely I turned out the lights in my office, put on my coat, grabbed my bag, and headed out to the parking lot. I had a little over an hour to get home, walk the dog, eat something, and attempt to relax. (Nearly impossible, considering my pre-audition nerves, but I had to try.) All too soon it was time to head downtown to the theater that the Main Stage Company shared with the State College.

I gave myself some extra time to get there, since I knew the theater had no parking lot and I would have to compete for street parking with everyone else who was still downtown at seven o'clock on a Monday night. But even so, I circled the block five or six times (knuckles on the steering wheel growing ever whiter as empty parking spaces failed to materialize) without finding anything. I was just about to give up and go home, comforting myself with the idea that auditions were also being held the next night, when I spotted an empty space. Success! And less than a block away from the theater, too! My sigh of relief was audible enough for a passing pedestrian to give me a very strange look as I locked my car.

I took another deep breath when I got inside the theater lobby, steadying myself for that final moment before I walked into the performance space. No turning back now! I pulled open the inner door and walked through.

There was a little table next to the door which held blank audition sheets, so I grabbed one and immediately started filling it out. Name, address, age, height, weight, hair color, eye color...all standard and boring information, but necessary when the director isn't able to take pictures to remind himself what the actors look like. The next section, for theater experience, usually takes the longest to fill out; however, I had been clever enough to bring a copy of my theater résumé, so all I had to write was "See Attached Sheet" -- and then pray that the director didn't lose the attached sheet too quickly.

The last question on the audition sheet asked what roles the actor was auditioning for. There was only the one part that I really wanted, but I needed to list a second option in case the infamous Bethany Cline showed up that night. So I wrote: Hannah Jarvis, Lady Croom. And I was done.

My extended prowl for a parking space had made me slightly late, so by the time I was done with the audition sheet, the director was already up on the stage, explaining how the auditions would run. He finished just as I was grabbing a seat, but I didn't think I had really missed anything. The usual routine was just for the director to call people up on stage, have them read a scene, send them back, let other people do the scene, and so on, until he was satisfied that he had seen everyone whom he thought would fit those particular characters.

After his initial spiel, the director -- a friendly-looking fellow with dark hair, mustache, goatee, and glasses -- said he was going to wait a few more minutes to see if any more people showed up. I took the opportunity to get up and hand him my audition sheet, then went back to my seat and looked around to see if I knew anyone else there. It wasn't a huge turnout, but not too bad; about fifteen or twenty other people were sitting in the first few rows of the theater, clumped in twos and threes. I didn't recognize a single one of them -- so much for the idea of getting moral support from someone!

I took another quick look to guess how many of the other women might be auditioning for the role I wanted. It was hard to tell ages in the dim light (the house lights were off and only the stage lights were on, so the audience was all in shadow), but I didn't think there were more than three or four others who would be the right age for Hannah. And none of those had blonde hair -- maybe Bethany Cline didn't show up after all! One obstacle gone. Now I just had to get through the audition without making myself look ridiculous.

The director, who had been looking over the audition sheets and noting who wanted which role, finally decided he had waited long enough for more people to walk in. "OK, let's get started. First we'll do the opening scene between Septimus and Thomasina. Can I have these people on stage, please..." He read two names off the list he'd made, and a younger guy and girl stood up and walked toward the stage steps. "Meanwhile, the rest of you can be looking over some other scenes. These people can look at the scene between Bernard and Valentine on page 17" -- he read off a few more names -- "and these people can go over the scene between Hannah and Chloe on page 33." He turned back to the two people who were standing on the stage. "OK? Sorry to keep you waiting. Start whenever you're ready."

He said my name! I get to read the scene for Hannah and Chloe! I wonder which character he'll have me read? Chloe is an OK character, but of course her part isn't nearly as big as Hannah's. Wait a minute -- where do I get a script?

I suddenly realized that everyone else already had a script and was diligently reading. I looked around, slightly frantic. Oh, no -- aren't there any more? At last I spotted a pile of scripts on one edge of the stage. When there was a break in the action, and the director was waiting for the next pair to read the scene between Septimus and Thomasina, I slunk up the aisle (attempting to be inconspicuous and probably failing miserably), grabbed one, then returned to my seat as quietly as possible. I hoped it was only my imagination -- which is always on overdrive when I'm nervous -- that everyone in the theater was staring at me.

Back in the blissful anonymity of my seat, I read the scene. Nothing too difficult, no extreme pitches of emotion -- Chloe was teasing Hannah about Bernard, and Hannah was making it adamantly clear that the was not interested in him. I read through the scene several times, thinking how I'd perform as Hannah and then as Chloe.

However, reading it didn't take all that long, so I could sit back and watch the other scenes that were happening on stage. The director spent a lot of time on the scene between Septimus and Thomasina -- not only were they the main characters in the 19th Century half of the play, but there were quite a few younger people who had showed up to audition for those parts. Some pairs he asked to do the scene more than once, suggesting different emotions or attitudes for them to try. None of the younger men really grabbed my attention as Septimus, but there was one blonde girl who was quite good as Thomasina.

A few other scenes blurred past, mostly involving the male characters, so I wasn't really paying close attention. That is, not until I heard the director say, "All right, can I have these people on stage, please, to read the scene between Hannah and Bernard on page 23..."

Hannah? What scene? Wait, I haven't read that yet! You didn't mention that before! Ack!

Thankfully he hadn't called my name yet, so I had time to flip to the proper page and read along while the pair on stage was acting it out. On the other hand, I hate not being the first to perform a scene at an audition, because it can be very difficult not to imitate people who have read the scene before you.

It turned out that there were three other women besides myself that the director was considering for Hannah. There was one woman who were somewhat older than me, and two who were slightly younger. It was one of these younger women who seemed to pose the biggest threat to my chances: she was quite pretty, very energetic, and not at all lacking in talent.

Finally, it was my turn. I took a deep breath and got up on stage, smiling at the man who had been chosen to read the part of Bernard. Then there was only a final glance at the director to see if he was ready for us to begin, and we were off.

HANNAH:

How did you know I was here?

ERNARD:

Oh, I didn't. I spoke to the son on the phone, but he didn't mention you by name...and
then he apparently forgot to mention me...

HANNAH:

Valentine. He's at Oxford, technically.

BERNARD:

Yes, I've met him. Brideshead Regurgitated.

HANNAH:

My fiancé.

BERNARD:

(Pause) I'll take a chance. You're lying.

HANNAH:

(Pause) Well done, Bernard.

BERNARD:

Christ.

HANNAH:

He calls me his fiancée.

BERNARD:

Why?

HANNAH:

It's a joke!

BERNARD:

You turned him down?

HANNAH:

Don't be silly, do I look like the next Countess of --

BERNARD:

No, no, a freebie. The joke that consoles. My tortoise Lightning, my fiancée Hannah.

HANNAH:

Oh. Yes. You have a way with you, Bernard. I'm not sure I like it.

BERNARD:

What's he doing, Valentine?

HANNAH:

He's a postgrad. Biology.

BERNARD:

No, he's a mathematician.

HANNAH:

Well, he's doing grouse.



...and so on. The scene was only about a page long, and it was over far too quickly. I thought I had done pretty well -- not trying too hard for the English accent, but not leaving it out entirely, either; not imitating the other three women too much; not speaking too quickly; moving enough while I spoke...

My self-analysis was interrupted by the arrival of the cast of another show that was rehearsing at the theater that night. They took over the stage, and the Arcadia group went upstairs to one of the classrooms, where the auditions continued. The director had several pairs of men read a scene between Valentine and Bernard, letting them take turns with either part. Then he asked the younger girls to read one of Thomasina's monologues, taking his time and suggesting different ways for them to perform it. I still thought the blonde girl was the best of the bunch. He also asked several women to read a scene for Lady Croom -- I was not one of those asked, and I wasn't sure if I should be happy about it or not.

Finally he got to the scene between Hannah and Chloe. Again, I was not in the first pair asked to read, so I had a few more minutes to think about the scene and what I might do differently than the women who read it before me. When it was my turn, I was asked to be Hannah, and Chloe was the pretty brunette whom I thought had done such a good job reading Hannah in the scene with Bernard.

CHLOE:

He said he knew you.

HANNAH:

He couldn't have.

CHLOE:

No, perhaps not. He said he wanted to be a surprise, but I suppose that's different.
I thought there was a lot of sexual energy there, didn't you?

HANNAH:

What?

CHLOE:

Bouncy on his feet, you see, a sure sign. Should I invite him for you?

HANNAH:

To what? No.

CHLOE:

You can invite him -- that's better. He can come as your partner.

HANNAH:

Stop it. Thank you for the tea.

CHLOE:

If you don't want him, I'll have him. Is he married?

HANNAH:

I haven't the slightest idea. Aren't you supposed to have a pony?

CHLOE:

I'm just trying to fix you up, Hannah.

HANNAH:

Believe me, it gets less important.

CHLOE:

I mean for the dancing. He can come as Beau Brummel.

HANNAH:

I don't want to dress up and I don't want a dancing partner, least of all Mr.
Nightingale.

CHLOE:

Don't be such a prune. You were kissing him, anyway.

HANNAH:

He was kissing me, and only out of general enthusiasm.

CHLOE:

Well, don't say I didn't give you first chance. My genius brother will be much
relieved. He's in love with you, I suppose you know.

HANNAH:

That's a joke!

CHLOE:

It's not a joke to him.

HANNAH:

Of course it is -- not even a joke -- how can you be so ridiculous?



I never managed to get the brunette's name, but she was a lot of fun to act with -- very energetic, and doing lots of things that I could react to. The scene ended up being much more a sparring match between Hannah and Chloe than simply two people reading scripts. I found myself hoping that if by some miracle I did get cast as Hannah that she would get cast as Chloe.

That scene was the last one I read that evening, and the director decided that the auditions were over after he had heard the other two women read through it. The director's final remarks included an invitation to return the next night if we felt we hadn't read enough, or if there was a different role we were interested in but hadn't read a scene for, but I knew I wouldn't take him up on the offer. Go through that nerve-wracking experience two days in a row? No way! Far better to stop while I still felt like I had done a decent job and before I could see anyone else -- particularly Bethany Cline -- who wanted to be Hannah.

As I walked back to my car, I was already calculating how long it might be before I heard about the results.

 

Auditioning -- Part 4

I am not tremendously patient in stressful circumstances, and in my opinion there is hardly anything more stressful than waiting to hear whether or not you have been cast in a show. All of my friends who are psych majors would have been truly impressed with the amazing rationalizations I went through during the next few days, trying to imagine the director's thought processes. He obviously couldn't call on Tuesday because he was finishing auditions. By Wednesday it was unlikely that he would have made up his mind. Thursday still seemed too early. He wouldn't make us wait through the weekend, would he? I could never survive that long!

As if that were not enough, I also had to get myself used to the idea that I might not get cast as Hannah. I might get Chloe, I might get Lady Croom, or I might get nothing at all. And if I didn't get cast, of course I would still be able to go see the show, and just imagine all the extra time I would have to devote to...er...something. Training my dog, perhaps, or catching up on all the books I wanted to read, or a million things that all seemed terribly dull compared to the idea of being in the play.

By the time Thursday evening rolled around, I had nearly convinced myself that I wouldn't get cast as anything and I might as well look forward to auditions for the Light Opera Guild's summer show -- well, maybe not convinced, exactly, but I knew I could accept the bad news if it came. Best of all, I had finally stopped leaping for the phone every time it rang (which was a very healthy thing, because having a nervous adrenaline rush so often just can't be good for you).

So, by the time I got home from work on Thursday night, walked the dog, fed the dog, and started to think about what I wanted to have for dinner, the sound of the phone ringing hardly bothered me at all. Besides, it was just after six o'clock, which was prime telemarketer time -- living as I do in a state which boasts the most telemarketing firms in the country. I have trained myself to let the answering machine screen any calls which came in between 6 and 7 PM. Unfortunately, there was just enough of a nervous reflex left in my system that I simply couldn't let the machine pick it up, so before the receiver even reached my ear I was already cringing about what I would probably hear. What were they selling tonight: credit cards, long distance calling plans, or tickets to the firemen's ball?

"Hello?" Just firmly cut off the sales pitch, say you're not interested, and they'll go away.

"Hello, may I speak to Liz, please?"

"This is she." Ooh, a telemarketer trying the informal approach! At least he has done some research -- usually they give themselves away by mangling my name or asking for a "Mrs." in a household where there isn't one. Get to the point so I can hang up on you.

"Hi, this is David Wohl calling, from the Main Stage Company."

The last three words took a moment to penetrate my brain. It's the director! I was so honestly surprised that the director himself would be calling that I hardly realized he was still talking, and I certainly had no idea what he was saying. Thankfully my brain kicked into gear again before he got to the important part.

"...so I'd like to invite you to join our production of Arcadia, to play Hannah Jarvis."

"Hannah? I'd love to! Thank you!"

HANNAH!!

"Great! The first rehearsal will be on Sunday night at seven o'clock at the theater. It will be a read-through, so I'd like to get a copy of the script to you before then."

"Oh, that's all right -- I bought a copy for myself before auditions."

"OK, fine. So I'll just see you Sunday."

"All right, that sounds great. See you then."

Talk about an adrenaline rush! I hung up the phone and spent the next ten minutes dancing around the apartment, much to the amusement of my dog, who tried to join in and nearly succeeded in knocking me over. I didn't care -- I was far too excited. I got Hannah! I can't believe it!

Of course, I had to notify my friends right away. The ones who weren't home would have some rather garbled but very ecstatic messages on their answering machines when they returned. Then when I got off the phone it was time to plug in the modem so I could inform my friends who were only reachable by e-mail -- all of them were probably very amused by the number of exclamation points in the very capitalized subject line. And I posted a message at the DWG Tea Room, just for good measure -- a few people there had wished me good luck for the auditions.

Needless to say, I was utterly useless for the rest of the night, and even the next day I couldn't stop myself from smiling. I told all my friends at work, and they were happy for me -- even if they still didn't understand the whole thing and thought I was crazy. Most of them promised to come to the show, and knowing that maybe only half of them would didn't even faze me. I had just been given a big part in a fabulous play, and I was going to have a wonderful time up on stage; the audience was secondary.

I reread the play twice on Saturday, paying particular attention to Hannah's lines and feeling the first stirrings of dread about just how big the part was. I had to memorize all this? In only six weeks of rehearsals?

I found myself getting more nervous as Sunday approached. Part of me still couldn't believe that I had been cast in such a major role -- perhaps it was all a joke, or a mistake? Surely I would walk into the rehearsal and the director would say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I meant to give Hannah to someone else." Maybe it wasn't the director who had called me, but someone playing a prank...(Did I mention that my imagination goes into overdrive when I'm stressed?)

There was only one way to find out if I was dreaming the whole thing, or if it was really true, so on Sunday night I found myself back downtown at the theater again.

 

© 1999 Copyright held by the author.

 

 

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