(I wrote most of this post from the waiting room at Juilliard on the day of my audition. Yes, I brought my computer to the audition. I wanted to have it available to me…in case I got the opportunity to write…which I did! Hoooray!)
Here I am...writing. Writing is much more calming than sitting and sweating and looking around at everyone else...who are also sitting and sweating.
Although, I must confess I sweat alll the time anyway...I have this medical condition (no joke) called Hyperhydrosis. So basically, my armpits are producing moisture all the time…and especially when I get excited...then I’m majorly sweaty. It has nothing to do with regulating my body temperature. I am just allllllways sweating. Hot, right? So anyway, today is no different. I am just wearing a shirt that doesn’t show the sweat marks so much.
I woke up this morning at 6am. I took my time getting ready. I don’t like to rush. In fact, I LOATHE rushing. I ate breakfast at home (scrambled eggs and black beans...the breakfast of champions) and then stopped by Brooklyn Bagel on 30th Ave for a small Hazelnut coffee with cream and sugar. What a treat!
I took the N from 30th Ave to 42nd Street…Transferred to the Uptown 1 to 66th Street. When I stepped into the Uptown 1 subway car, I started to scan the car to see if I might be able to spot fellow Juilliard auditioners in the group. There were two suspiciously “actory” looking persons in the car. A gorgeous young lady with her hair pinned back in a 1940’s style and big clear blue eyes as well as a lanky elvish looking young man in a puffy green jacket. And, sure enough, I saw both them in the warm-up room later! Score!!!
After arriving at the beautiful glass palace that is The Juilliard School and checking-in, I was escorted into the waiting room marked “M thru Z.” I am “Wilcox,” so that makes sense.
The room has huge vaulted ceilings and bright white walls. The sun was shining through the windows and you could see the balconies of the adjacent high-rise apartment buildings with plants in planter boxes and the occasional lawn chair.
I ran into a lovely gentleman (I will call him Simon), who I seem to run into every time I visit Juilliard (and Yale too, for that matter). He reminds me a bit of a young Morgan Freeman. He’s auditioning for grad schools this year also (obviously)…and it’s been fun to keep running into him. I gave him a hug and we wished each other broken legs this morning. Maybe we’ll get to be in class together some day…or do a show together some time in the future. At any rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the last time we ran into each other.
The morning warm-up with Richard Feldman and Kate Wilson was sooooooo helpful and awesome. We all sat on the floor...all 155 of us... in this ginormous orchestra room and listened intently as Richard reminded us to have a broader perspective about this day…That today is just a step along our journeys as actors. I wish I could have recorded his speech. It was really inspiring. And as I looked around the room and into all of these faces…so amazingly talented and dedicated and YOUNG, so full of hope and promise and energy... I thought, “Wow! What a gift to be standing in the midst of the future of the American Theatre! How freakin’ awesome is that!!!!???” Richard made us all laugh, made us feel welcomed, appreciated and understood as he shared with us his personal insights and perspective. After he was finished speaking you could feel the room pulsing with joy and excitement.
Then it was Kate’s turn with us. She told us all to stand up as she walked to the center of the room. We did a vocal and light physical warm-up. Nothing fancy or fantastic...all the nice familiar things that we’ve all done in many a voice and speech class before. It was a wonderful feeling. We were all breathing together, with a sense of camaraderie.
The warm-up dispelled both the physical and psychological tension. When we had completed the warm-up we all applauded Kate and thanked her as we began to file out of the room... As our applause died down...funniest thing happened...we heard cheering and applauding coming from the hallway behind the double-doors. I thought to myself, “What the heck is going on in the hallway? Did Kevin Spacey just show-up for a visit or something?” As I passed through the doorway, I sawall of the current Juilliard students lining the hallways and I realized that they were all applauding and cheering for US as we made our way back to the waiting room. I could not help cracking-up! I was grinning ear to ear. What a surreal experience! It was incredibly kind of them to show that kind of support and generosity to all of us “Juilliard hopefuls.”
And it was just so silly...Anything to distract us from being nervous...So brilliant! I loved it.
Sat in the waiting room for a few minutes. Met an elegant young woman who was sitting near me. (I will call her Rebecca.) We chatted a bit and then I headed up to the 4th floor warm-up rooms.
Having space to warm-up is suuuuuuuuch a gift. I did some yoga stretches, spoke some of the lines from my Shakespeare monologue really, really, really fast, as a sort-of tongue-twister...took some time just to breathe. But I was waaaaay too excited to really spend too much more time on any of these things. I did NOT practice any of my monologues. I wanted them to be nice and fresh...like I’d never spoken them before...and if I forgot one of my lines...so be it...better that, than to sound like I was doing a recitation.
Spontaneous. Surprising. THAT’s the goal.
So I headed out of the warm-up room and back down to the “M thru Z” waiting room on the third floor. I was there for several minutes and then my name was called and I was escorted to the hallway outside of the studio where I would be auditioning.
“Who is in the room?” I asked the monitor, a first-year grad student.
Her answer made me raise my hands up to the sky and praise the Heavens! Dude!!! I don’t know how I could have possibly been so lucky, but I was assigned the BEST audition room possible. I cannot even BELIEVE my good fortune. Seriously. Thank you, Universe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
In the room was...Richard Feldman (swoon), Darryl Quinton (swoon), and Rene Houtrides (double-swoon).
The hallway was dim, but as I walked into the room and it was like walking through the gates of heaven…The light was streaming through the windows filling the entire studio with this glowing light. It warmed my heart and made me soooooo happy.
I chose to do my scariest piece first…THE SHAKESPEARE!!! Ahhhhhhhh! If I could get through that one…then…I could get through anything.
I figured…if I’m going to go down…I’d like to go down in FLAMES…so, best to tackle the scariest piece first.
Then I did my contemporary piece.
Richard didn’t quite know that I was done with my contemporary piece…so he started talking to me before I was actually finished, but I just stayed with it, until I was finished…then happily gave him my attention.
He asked me to do the piece again…only this time he gave me a character adjustment.
As I was contemplating how I was going to incorporate his note, I realized that I could not for the life of me remember the first line of the monologue (I was not focusing well...and my brain was not connecting), but Rene REMEMBERED MY FIRST LINE and fed it to me! How AWESOME is that!? Ha!
She was really listening!...Or maybe she was familiar with the piece, either way…I was VERY IMPRESSED and grateful for her generous kindness in my time of need.
Soooo … I started the monologue again…incorporating the adjustment…then Richard stopped me about three lines in and clarified his instruction…He wanted me to MOVE around the space and pretend that I was cleaning up after a long day of work…and say the monologue too.
Ohhhhhhhh! I seeeee.
So that’s what I did. It was tough to concentrate on the secondary activity. I kept feeling like I was about to forget my lines, but I just kept moving and trying to picture the layout of this imaginary restaurant I was in and the words kept coming out and I was doing weird things with it that I didn’t expect and saying it differently than I’ve ever said it before. But it felt good…freeing in a way…to be able to let go of any preconceptions I had about the piece and just play in these new given circumstances he had given me. Actually, it reminded me a lot of my on-camera class at The Barrow Group. I KNEW I took that class for a reason!
And I realize now that all that monologue practice commitment device that I gave myself earlier this month (to do at least one of my monologues every day for a different person)...no matter where I was…or who I was with…that practicing my monologue in these different/strange/unconventional situations really helped to prepare me to be flexible enough to just “go with it” and just pantomime away…focusing on cleaning my imaginary restaurant and basically just throwing the words away. It was really fun!!!
I got about half-way through the monologue before Richard stopped me.
Then…he asked me if I’d like to sing. I said I’d LOVE to sing. So I sang “Make Someone Happy” again, just like I did at my NYU audition and I tried to breathe…sometimes succeeding and sometimes not.
Then Rene asked me to sing again…only this time with an adjustment…this time I was all alone, singing to myself, totally sloppy drunk, sitting in a chair that was facing sideways and drinking bourbon. I asked if it was okay, if it was gin instead. She said that’d be fine.
So I started to sing to myself and Rene was sort-of side coaching me through it and telling me to take a drink as I continued to sing… and it was sooooo fun...I was improvising. I slouched in my chair and sang to the ceiling and then went to find my glass of gin (imaginary of course) which was underneath my chair…then when I got to the line about “someone to love is the answer”…it was toooo emotionally overwhelming…I took a sip of my “gin” and tried to continue to sing, but it was more like croaking and out-of-breath speaking, as I realized that I was all alone and drinking and singing about having someone to love…which I DON’T have…and it was terribly, terribly sad all of the sudden and the tears started to form in my eyes and I completely lost my voice. And then Rene stopped me.
I gathered my composure quickly and stood up from the chair. Richard, Darryl and Rene all said “Thank you.” And placed the chair back on the side of the acting space and thanked them and made my exit.
It was an exhilarating audition experience!
They treat actors with the utmost respect here and honor us for the courage that it takes to even BE HERE auditioning at JUILLIARD. I’m getting a little choked up just writing this…That may sound silly…but there is sooooooooooo much disrespect toward actors in the “business” and it’s incredibly refreshing to be here, in a place where people really, honestly honor the contribution that actors give and how much courage it takes to be vulnerable in front of others and show your honest, true heart…even in the face of possible rejection.
Then I stood in the hallway for a moment...trying to get my heart to stop pounding out of my chest...and concentrating on not throwing up from excitement...and then the monitor caught my eye and said that I was free to relax in the waiting room until “the call-back list” gets posted.
I had about 3 hours to wait...while everyone else was auditioning in the many audition rooms...So I went back to the waiting room to collect my breath and record my thoughts for you.
Tomorrow I will tell you all about....THE LIST....