10
Aug
07

Auditions

My journey with 2 Henry IV began way back on March 19.  That was the day I auditioned for the roles I’ll be tackling in this production.  I’d gotten a call from Milwaukee Shakespeare Company Manager Noel asking me to prepare the sides* for Pistol and the Earl of Warwick.  I began the process of memorizing the lines, thinking about the characters, and making some general acting choices.  I’ll confess that I was very excited about Warwick but a bit intimidated by Pistol.  Also, Warwick’s lines are in verse and Pistol speaks in prose.**  This was exciting to me because I’d recently had a fantastic class in First Folio technique for performing Shakespeare’s verse so I was jazzed about applying that knowledge to this audition.  After getting a handle on Warwick I made myself turn to Pistol.  The thing about Pistol is, well, he’s a bit of a whack job.  He speaks in big, allegorical terms and likes to throw around words like Erebus, faitors, and Atropos while mixing his Latin, French, and Spanish all together.  Frankly, I was intimidated.  But I sucked it up and dove in.  I fell back on a lesson I’d learned from many years of performing outdoors: go big or go home.  My experience is that a director in an audition is looking for an actor to make a choice, and even if it’s not the right choice, the director will see that at least you’ve given it some thought, made some decisions about your character, and come prepared.   So, that’s what I did.

 Monday morning I arrived for my audition.  I tried really hard not to get nervous and to just focus on giving a solid audition.  I walked into the rehearsal space (a space I was very familiar with having rehearsed Much Ado About Nothing there in the fall) to meet Susan Finque, the director about whom I’d heard so much.  She was lovely and instantly put me at ease.  With her was Paula Suozzi, the Artistic Director for Milwaukee Shakespeare.  We all chatted for a few minutes, they asked me to tap dance, and after we all chuckled about that I settled in to present Warwick.  After finishing that speech Susan commented that I was very clear and we talked about an adjustment she’d like to see.  I gave the speech again, trying to make the adjustment and when I was finished Susan thanked me for giving her what she’d asked.  So far, so good.  I then moved on to show them Pistol.  I took a deep breath, focused, and let him go.  My teacher and friend Susan Hart always tells her students to stand aside and let the character move in so that each time you open your mouth on stage you surprise yourself.  Well, I was surprised.  I think they were, too.  I was boisterous, gregarious, larger than life, yet specific in the imagery I was trying to conjure with my big words.  I finished and Susan congratulated me on a job well done.  She then asked if I might try it again using a dialect.  I pulled out some sort of country/Scottish hybrid and did the speech again, focusing less on the acting and more on the sound.  That seemed to give the desired result and Susan thanked me for my work.  I thanked them both for the opportunity and left feeling very good that I’d turned in a really solid audition.

 The next day was our first rehearsal for 1 Henry IV so I was back in the rehearsal hall meeting my fellow actors for that show.  Susan was there to watch our first reading of the play and amidst all of the meshegas she found a few minutes to tell me how solid an audition I’d given the day before.  Alright, good for me.  Things looked promising.

 The upshot is that by Wednesday, Paula had called to offer me the parts of Pistol, Fang, and the Earl of Westmoreland.  All three are great parts and entirely different from each other.  I accepted at once.  Throughout the summer I’ve read and re-read the play and have now come to really love the parts I’m to tackle, especially Pistol.  The part that was initially so intimidating has now become a great challenge that I’m looking very forward to offering our audience.  I hope you’ll enjoy taking the journey with me.

*SideBard: Sides are lines from the script for a particular character that a director gives an actor to present at an audition.

 **SideBard:  In VERY general terms, some characters speaks in verse, usually with ten beats to a line.  These are usually noble or upper-class characters.  Some lower-class or comedic characters speak in more free-flowing lines that don’t have a rhyme or meter to them.

***SideBard:  This is the clever way I’ve decided to give footnotes at the bottom of my entries.  Blame Matt Daniels from last season.  I’m trying to keep up with the great job he did with this blog but he set the bar very high.  Or should that be, he set the Bard very high?

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1 Response to “Auditions”


  1. August 16, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Matt did a great job and set a high “Bard,” but I love the witty wordplay — which is just one of the reasons we love the Bard in the first place!


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