7:30 am. I am awake and anxious for the beginning. Perhaps I am nervous because today marks the day that it all becomes real; the dream of being a living, working actor in New York City.
The early morning light pours through the single window in the small, concrete room at the YMCA on West 63rd street. It warms me as I, more eagerly that I’d care to admit, jump out of bed, itching to start my first day at Springboard 2012.
I look out the window that is permanently nailed shut. I lean to see the sunrising to my left over a Manhattan skyline, and to my right, the morning light stretching across the trees of central park, with distanced towers surpassing their gait, creating the picturesque landscape of the city everyone falls in love with. The city of dreamers.
I am anxious about the prospect of performing on the very first day. Was everyone else prepared for this? This “audition workshop”? I stayed up last night practicing my top three monologues, one from Julius Caesar, one from Homebody/Kabul, and one from Sight Unseen. My comedic monologue from House Of Blue Leaves is ready to go, as I have used it for auditions for almost the entire school year.
I meet Janie along with a fiery redhead who’s hardly five feet tall, Sarah, in the lobby. Our introduction is brief as Janie and I follow her brisk pace twenty two blocks to the Manhattan Theater Club. We pass the West side of Central park, walk down Broadway to 8th Avenue, and finally to 43rd. I nearly miss the gray, narrow building, 15 floors high where we will be meeting every morning. We cram ourselves into the tiny, slow moving elevator and rode to the 8th floor. When we arrived, there was another door, that required us to be buzzed in. Is this New York or what?
There’s a group of us standing around the lobby. I feel anxious and I am too shy, too uncomfortable to approach any of the other students here, who all seem to be chatting and introducing themselves to one another excitedly like hungry baby birds.
A few people introduce themselves to me while we stand around, so energized and excited. I am, too, but I am feeling very internal, reserved and like an observer. Is this what a full scholarship student is supposed to do? Am I displaying the behavior of someone who was sent to Springboard by the American Theater Wing?
At last, the doors to the studio open and we pile in for breakfast. The room is huge, the entire back wall is covered in windows from top to bottom, showing the heart stopping skyline of Manhattan, just a block away from Broadway. The natural light pours in and fills the entire room…. the size of the entire lobby and front hallways at the University of Memphis. We waited in the line, grabbing the various fruits, juices and pastries and talked among ourselves… but I was far too absorbed in wondering what was ahead to truly socialize or get to know the other students.
Finally, Randy Lutterman enters the room and welcomes us all to Springboard 2012. We are overloaded with materials, packets of information, maps, merchandise from recent broadway shows, a SpringBoard 2012 tee shirt and a bag. She (sort of) lets us know what we are in for, but the smile upon a familiar face is enough to keep me grounded and present.
Our first workshop is “The Stuff Your Made OF” lead by motivational speaker, Stuart Gelles. Stuart has us each stand up, introduce ourselves and say something that we don’t usually tell people. I stood up, nervous and shaking like a first time performer on a stage, and told everyone that , 1. I am an extremely sensitive person and 2. I had an injury on the left side of my face, which now looks like a large dimple, and that it took five years for me to be able to move that side properly and to have a straight smile. I don’t like to admit that one of the defining characteristics of my physical appearance is actually something I struggled with in my childhood. But there it was, in the open. All of us were exposed. Stuart explained to us that the key to success is mapping out your energy and future, but in order to do this you must understand the House where you live. There are three houses: 1. The house of being, where nurturers live. They are heartfelt and their motto is, “I am”. 2. Is the house of dreamers, the are about dreaming, creating, visualizing. They are soulfelt, and very spiritual. Their motto is, “I create”. 3. Is the house of doers. They are very proactive and analytical. They live within the ego and see things as cause and effect. Their motto is, “I do”. I thought that I was in the house of being, but Stuart told me that I was a dreamer, once we continued with the exercises, I identified with this deeply. The purpose of learning your house is so that you can know your starting point, take an outside, observers view, and learn how to use all the parts of yourself (the dreamer, be-er and doer) to your advantage to create the type of reality that you want. When we split off into groups, I felt like the fellow “dreamers” understood me. We were completing each other’s sentences, and connecting on a deep emotional level instantly. I felt like I knew my fellow dreamers my entire life. This workshop spoke directly to my soul and really inspired me. It was a great way for all of us to get to know each other and relate based on our various “houses”. After this workshop, I felt like I understood myself and how I operate in a new way. A way that was celebratory instead of distanced and muddled. I felt like I now held the key; the secret formula to my own success… it is powerful! I am now empowered with self realization!
After a quick lunch break, it was time for the dreaded audition workshop. We met director Leigh Silverman, a strong featured, tall woman, dressed in all black, with dark black hair, black leather boots and a grande Starbucks coffee in hand. She was an unapologetic force, both inspiring and intimidating. She told us her story of starting out as an awkward actress and through connections, “watching and learning”, taking small opportunities, she directed W;t in the L.A and London premiers at age 26…. and became the well known success she is today. She directed about 10 of the Springboarders, I was not one of them. Leigh told us that monologues need to have the farthest distance to go; you should not end where you started. The audience should always feel like anything could happen in any moment, so you must keep the monologue active. The monologue must have a big shape in which the character learns, changes, or discovers something. Make these choices specific and know why your character is there. I was amazed at the endless talent of my peers, and Leigh’s wealth of knowledge as she transformed each monologue from “good” to “performance” quality!
And already it was the end of our first day! Most days wont end this early, but we all met up at the Irish Rogue to get to know one another and hang out, a few of us took off to go explore time square… here’s some photographic evidence .:P
This is Naked CowBoy….