Monday, December 22, 2008

Bragging Rights

Journey's End, the show I did last January with Griffin Theatre, has been named as one of the ten best shows of the year by Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones. I am particularly proud of this one, in spite (or perhaps because) of the hideous mustache I wore for two months. Congratulations to everybody involved!

photo by Jonathan Berry

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Um, Awkward

I haven't had to do a monologue audition in quite some time, so when a string of them got scheduled I kinda had to scramble and dig up some stuff from my school days. I felt fairly confident in my ability to execute the monologues well enough, having used most of them before, although frankly I could probably use a refresher course for these kinds of auditions. Then again, I don't know what kind of class could prepare me for the faux pas I pulled off this evening.

One of my monologues come from the play Those the River Keeps, by David Rabe. I like the speech a lot. The character is a former mobster discussing the incident that made him realize he was not cut out for the lifestyle. The event he describes involves him punching a dog, and accidentally killing it. The description is vivid and detailed, enough so that I actually have to cut it down some to make it an acceptable length for an audition piece. Still, it's moderately violent, and somehow the fact that the violence is directed toward a dog makes it a little more . . . something. You know what I mean?

Tonight I needed two monologues, contrasting. I've got this dog one, plus another that is funny but straight-laced, and a third that is straight up silly. Given the kind of plays this company was known for, I figured I'd hit 'em with the dog speech first, and then give them the straight-laced comedic one. I was a little rough on the lines for that one, but the combination seemed right. At least, it did until I walked into the audition room and saw an actual, honest-to-god dog lying there. I didn't say anything aloud, and the auditors were making a few preliminary notes and therefore did not notice my double-take.

I got through it. What else could I do? Afterward one of the auditors told me that the speech didn't really work for him. I was too frazzled to explain that I had just done a speech about killing a dog in front of a dog.

There is a part of me that feels like I should have known about the dog. Like I should have remembered, oh yeah, there is a good possibility that there will be a dog in the room. It was a nice enough dog. Black lab, very well-behaved. It just laid on its little doggie mat the whole time. I had to fight hard not to keep looking at it as I worked. I think it was watching me, and judging.

Oh, and that second monologue? The one I was a little rough with on the lines? I scrapped that. No way was I gonna remember that thing. I went straight for the silly. Probably not what they wanted, but at least I got an amusing story out of it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Slight Break In the Action

My sincerest apologies for the lack of posts, but I swear I have a good reason for it: I’ve just been too damn busy. I had just enough time off to enjoy Thanksgiving with the folks up in Michigan. But I am not complaining.

The Mark of Zorro just closed last Sunday, bringing to a close the longest run I’ve ever had on a single show, as well as the longest streak of non-stop theatre work in my career. I was sorry to see Zorro end. It was a huge amount of fun, and Lifeline Theatre is just a great group to work with. Fingers crossed, I’ll get another opportunity soon.

This week, I dive back in and try to get a new streak going. Tonight I have a small role in The Strange Tree Group’s holiday party, The 12 Grave Errors of Christmas. I also have auditions lined up for this Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as next Sunday, plus two more the Saturday after that. I am a little stressed about the auditions for this week. They are all monologue auditions, which I have had to do very little of for the past several years. In fact, since 2004 I have done exactly two monologue auditions, total. My success rate is fifty percent.

I also have a small stage combat gig lined up: I will be choreographing the violence for Steep Theatre Company’s production of In Arabia We’d All Be Kings by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with (and one of my best friends), Joanie Schultz. She’s usually good enough to give me a call whenever one of her plays requires a beatdown, and I am always happy to oblige.

There is other stuff to report regarding books I’ve read, albums I’ve heard, and jobs I may or may not have gotten. More on all that coming up. Stay tuned!