Admittedly, I hadn’t done my homework before naively waltzing into my first stage audition. I’d rehearsed my lines for an entire afternoon. Well, most of the afternoon. Okay, for at least a few hours in between checking my e-mail messages, watching Oprah and cooking dinner. Anyway, the point wasn’t so much to land a part as it was to experience the full humiliation of the process. And to that end, I’d have to say that I brilliantly succeeded.
Having skipped (or been wrongly permitted to advance past) Acting I, I didn’t know the first cardinal rule of auditions: Never look right at the auditors. So I stared straight into the director’s face and began delivering my lines. She, in return, offered her best imitation of Mona Lisa. And this rattled me so much that I COMPLETELY lost all memory and had to start over—at which point I was advised to “look at the empty theater seats.”
What a relief! The vacant chairs seemed so much friendlier.
My monologue had been lifted right out of a book I’d ordered online and had received only the day before. Set sometime in the early 1900s, this British play’s dialogue seemed awkward. In particular, one part appeared to make no sense at all. However, I didn’t question the word choice. Having imagined these sentences contained foreign idioms, I simply delivered the lines as written.
At the end of my audition the director said, “Did you know you said, ‘We were dogged by bad duck from beginning to end?’”
I shook my head yes. Perhaps I’d mispronounced the work “dogged” and had left off the second syllable. “Did I say ‘dog-ged?” I asked.
“Yes, you said ‘dogged’ correctly.” Biting her lips, she paused before continuing her inquisition. “But did you realize you said you were dogged by bad DUCK?” The heretofore expressionless director snickered, showing her first sign of personality.
“Well, yes,” I explained. “That’s what it said in my book . . . and you know, now that you mention it, I wondered about that. Please tell me my book doesn’t contain a typo. Was the word supposed to be “luck?”
Now laughing shamelessly in my face, the woman said, “Yes, the word is LUCK.” When she’d regained her composure, she added, “I had this image of you being chased all over Europe by vicious ducks . . . and little crosswalk signs that said ‘Beware: Mean ducks.’”
I may not get the part, but at least I proved I can still make ‘em laugh.