At the Tuesday acting class I asked Sam to tell us about an audition last week. His experience sheds light on an important phenomenon in the current state of acting.
Anthony A:Sam is going to give us a condensed version of a very interesting audition.
Sam: So I had an audition on Friday.
Anthony A: Thank you Sam. That was the short version.
Sam: You’re funny. So I had an audition on Friday for a play and I went in, prepared the sides and read with three other people. After the other people left, the director gave me a monologue that he said he had given to everyone during the initial audition…he had called me in during the callbacks. So I read it, and I did it, and he says “OK, that was great. Now what I want you to do is create a situation, I don’t care what the situation is, just create a situation. The only thing is that while you are doing that, your opinion of the current situation in Iraq has to somehow come through. You can do whatever you want.”
I said, “OK.” I was wearing a suit. I took off my jacket, and to myself, I made my choice: “I’m talking to a Philippino prostitute, we’ve just had sex. I started from ‘poag’-post orgasmic after glow - We’ve just had sex and I want to share with her something I wrote but she doesn’t speak English.” I did the monologue and afterwards the director said to me “Wow, I don’t know if I should tell you this but I’m gonna tell you anyway.” He said that he saw close to one hundred people and he gave everyone at the initial audition that same monologue to do, with the same adjustment and he says I was the only person who actually made a choice and did what he asked me to do. That every single person, when they did it a second time with the adjustment to change the situation, did the monologue in basically the same way with a different accent or different inflection…The thing is I dove into it and I actually got excited. I got to create, I got to play. I just jumped into it. I didn’t think about.
Anthony A: The implications of this are enormous. It is an example of A) how crippled we are by our slavery to the words and how the industry is really really fed up with that to the point where when you bring something to the table that is not just words spoken differently, they really sit up and take notice. And it is shocking to me how we are still treating our work which is human and experiential as a literary form. Maybe as audio books, at the most. Look at all his competition did. They wanted a different situation, so they changed their voice, they changed their accent. Isn’t it astonishing what that says about their perception of their craft, their art form. “Oh it’s like a voice thing.” So now we’ve got a perception of the craft like it’s a “Show my six pack abs” thing or my “Boobs” thing, and/or it’s like a voice thing. So look at where we’re at. This is not a golden age.
Mad props to the director, by the way, who didn’t just say “Gimme something different.” He said “Come up with a situation that will cause you to be different.” That’s really an enlightened direction. But consider the Superbowl. Consider the Giants, all the professional sports teams who hold thousands and thousands of spectators breathless with excitement without uttering a word. How did we get to the point where we have reduced it all just to the word? It’s really astonishing, and what we have to understand is that this director is smart enough to give Sam a good direction which is that the words come out after the life has been generated. You don’t start talking for no reason. First you create the situation, the reaction the interaction, the partner and then, maybe out of the life comes the lines. Stanislavsky once said, “Even a dog doesn’t just come right in and start barking at his master.” A dog goes in, it sniffs around and then it sees it’s master and “Arf, arf.” Look at cats. Have you ever let a cat out of the house? I used to and then we learned the hard way: Don’t do that.
But a cat, the first thing a cat does when it goes outside is it sits up and it looks at the sky. Oh God, why don’t we do that more often? It looks up at the sky, taking in the big picture and then it starts to meow, because it sees a mouse, or because it’s in heat, or because it wants to get back in, or, or, or, or, or. But first the life, then the lines.
Do you realize that what we are trying to infect you with is the tendency to create the very life that I’m very pleased Sam was able to create first? And we’re also trying to prove to you with stories like this that it really does result if not in employment then at least in feedback because the difference is so incredibly obvious. Talk is cheap. Actions - life - speak louder than words.