Monthly Archives: March 2008

Bad Duck Audition

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.

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Acting Classes: Humped on Phonics

I’ve let you down by falling behind on my acting class posts. Please forgive me. It’s just that I’m struggling so hard to learn a new alphabet that I haven’t had time to write.  

Yes, a new alphabet. Apparently, somebody feels the original one isn’t sufficient. So now I’m in the process of UNLEARNING the phonics I was taught to be hooked on in elementary school and relearning English based on some convoluted system called the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). 

How can there be two alphabets for one language? The answer is this: one is for normal communication, and the other is for those who suffer a pathological need to know what are all those crazy-looking symbols that can be accessed when you click on “insert” from your Word toolbar. (I’m talking about dohickies that look like this: ǽ and ə, even when you’re not drunk.)  

In IPA, the “r” is written exactly as we know it in the standard alphabet, only the consonant is UPSIDE DOWN. “Why was it necessary to turn the letter upside down?”  I asked my teacher.  

He said, in a perfectly serious tone that suggested this was a logical response, “Because the right-side-up R indicates a trill in IPA.” 

I’m fairly certain that learning the International Phonetic Alphabet is going to serve me about as well as has those algebra classes I took in high school. All I ever needed to know was that 10 – X + b(X + 4) = a waste of time.  

As to the yoga aspect of this voice class, I’m still forcing myself into “the gynecological pose” and feeling dangerously vulnerable.  And I’ve learned to hum and say phrases like, “Zoo-zoo-zoo, ze-ze-ze, za-za-za, zay,” in positions that no one I know has ever assumed while speaking.  

When I demonstrated one of these embarrassing postures to my husband, he immediately dropped to his knees and playfully attacked me in a way that made me think he should be neutered.

Apparently, Hubby knows an international sign or two, too!

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