At “Peter and the StarCatcher”!
There is just not enough time to be as long winded as I was last night. Today was a much bigger day and I am just… exhausted.
We met bright and early at 9am. First up was a Q & A session with Stacy Seidel Tea, a casting director for commercials and voice overs. She was spunky, and shared with us that she and her husband also have a professional relationship, as he is a voice over actor. I can’t imagine… She gave us tons of tips for auditioning for t.v. and radio, which felt like she was telling me the laws and cultural customs of a country entirely foreign to me. She said things like “Don’t memorize your sides” and “Don’t show up too early”. Both which blew my mind. She and Randy looked at my headshot and reviewed it for me. It was two thumbs down. 😦 The headshot did not look like me, represent me, and looked too photoshopped. Stacy added that she didn’t think it had enough color. (I am in a white shirt against a gray background.) She gave us the name of a photographer that is great for head shots in NYC!
Then, it was time for “Survival Guide #1: You’re Here, Now What?” lead by Mrs. Randy Lutterman herself. We had a two hour conversation about living and working in New York City, and Randy shared her story with us. She told us to make an honest list of what we can’t live without and what we can do to get them. She told us to always be nice, be tough and keep records of everything. We learned about how to get a day job while still auditioning. (Not easy). Which includes finding your niche outside of performing and making money doing that. Most importantly, we talked about how to make New York CIty feel like home. Part of it is “jumping in the pool” as Stephen always says in every B.F.A. meeting; it’s getting yourself involved and introducing yourself to your neighborhood.
After another quick lunch of two slices of pizza and a bottled water (for under $4?!?) we had a “Meet The Artist” session, though it should’ve been called “Meet the Artists”. We met actress Amy Ryan, (a gorgeous and grounded, very cerebral actress, definitely what I’d like to become), moderated by William Ivey Long (Daniel Mathews in like, 20 years)! Amy Ryan said that acing is an instinct, and it is when those instincts fail that we rely on technique (Stanislavsky, Meisner, method, etc.) She also says that New York City has been her greatest acting teacher, because of all the people watching it provides. She said the secret to being successful on both stage and screen is preparation. There is no rehearsal for film, so you must arrive super prepared. She admitted to us that the self doubt never really goes away… what a relief. Though she is a well known actress, that statement made me feel like we were equals, each understanding one another’s struggles. I related to her so much, and especially her dimple on the left side of her face! 🙂
Finally we had a Q&A/ Audition workshop with casting director David Caparelliotis of Melcap Casting, or “Dave Cap” as we all called him. This guy is a classic New Yorker; no filter, no shame, no bull. His workshop was probably one of the most insightful I’ve had thus far. I took pages of notes of simple one liners he said that blew my mind, including the title of this entry, “Honor yourself, honor the text”. It means just what it says. In order to have a successful performance, you must balance the two. You cannot BS your way through either. You must honor both. It’s honoring your true abilities and type, while also honoring the playwright’s creation. He also said brilliant one liners like, “The character doesn’t exist until YOU walk into the room”, “Strong but wrong. SBW!”, “I want to know who you are at Starbucks”, “Talent speaks for talent”, and the one that almost made my brain explode and pour out of my ears: “AUDITIONING IS NOT ACTING”…..um….What?! No! Auditioning is not acting! The audition isn’t a chance to show off your ability…. auditioning is just about getting to know YOU! Wow. I never, ever, ever thought about it that way. Here I was choosing my audition material based on their reputation or difficulty…. what does that say about me? Where is their opportunity to see me?
Dave told us he casts based on your beat work, not on line work. Do you know when to take your moment? Anyone can say something…. He said auditions are about two characters trying to understand each other in a moment. What can you insert into your piece to honor yourself? Think of the through line, the ultimate thing you are trying to convey… in your monologue, are you moving toward that point or keeping away from it? Finally, he pointed out that acting does not play for an end result or resolution of some sort… but auditions do, because that is how we can see the journey. So all i have to do is so the best… version… of me? it seems too good to be true… and definitely way harder than it sounds. I feel like i’ve just been given New York’s secret.
We quickly grabbed dinner discussing Dave’s workshop and how our minds were blown like children who had just learned the alphabet and the meaning of language. We met on W 47th at The Brooks Atkinson Theater to see “Peter and the Starcatcher”. We had a great view of this fun-filled, original show practically front and center. This performance displayed the best use of a connected ensemble that I have ever witnessed. The cast flawlessly performed the complicated choreography and blocking with a minimalist set, turning different corners of the stage into cold, wet chambers of a pirate ship, magical blue mermaid lagoons, and an overgrown jungle. The narrative form of the theater allowed the cast to become several different characters, animals and even inanimate objects. This was by far the best and most original play I have seen on Broadway. We were extremely lucky to have an opportunity after the show to speak with some of the cast. Knowing he would be meeting us later in the program, Christian Brole did not attend, but nearly every other lead and supporting character was there, and even the playwright and writer of the original novel! They told us about how the play has developed in its workshopping to coming to broadway and how intense their rehearsal process was. The entire conversation was really thrilling!
I walked back to W 63rd street, to my dorm at YMCA, where I am sitting now, wrapped in a blanket, exhausted from one of the most thrilling days of my life. Without this opportunity, without this scholarship, none of this would’ve ever happened for me. Meeting the people I have, making connections, learning the “secrets”. I’m thrilled beyond measure. New York feels like it really could be my home.