I have about 0.3 seconds to get over the shock of making it to the "preliminary callbacks" for the 10 o'clock hour on my audition day at Yale Drama. I have no time to prepare. I am about to be ushered back into the audition room to do my monologues for a second time this morning...Only, this time I will be presenting them to both Ron Van Lieu and Walton Wilson.
It must be crazy for Ron and Walton to think about their jobs and the power that they have to help to change the entire trajectory of people's lives in an instant. I mean, what may seem like a small decision..."Let's keep this actor...Let's let this one go..." has MAJOR future implications for these people potentially.
I mean, imagine if Meryl Streep never attended Yale...would she still have the career that she has today? Or would her life have taken a totally different route? Was Yale the catalyst that young Meryl needed to set the foundation for her future artistry? Who knows? But her training at Yale certainly didn't harm her career. That's for sure. And if Yale did have something to do with Meryl's success as an actor, I for one, as an audience member am verrrrrry grateful that the faculty at Yale accepted her into the program. Because, now we get to benefit from watching her work and experiencing the many incredible performances she's given!
Anyway, I'm no Meryl Streep...but I do want to be accepted to Yale Drama and have the chance to be trained and stretch myself beyond what my current limitations as an actor are now! So the next step is... this preliminary callback for Ron and Walton.
Sheria ushers me into the room.
I smile and say to Ron and Walton, "Wow! This is so awesome guys! I've never made it this far before. Thank you so much. It was the thrill of my life to see my name on that list."
They both looked slightly amused and perhaps a little bit startled.
Oops! All well...What can ya do? I was being honest.
I asked Ron if he wanted to see the same two pieces. He said yes...and he told me I could start whenever I was ready.
My Goal: I DO NOT want to recreate EXACTLY the same experience as the first time I did these monologues. I may not move in the same way or sit at the same point or gesture in the same way. It's a monologue. I can allow myself the freedom to make it new. I mean it will be the same words and the same given circumstances, but I am different in this moment than I was before, so I want to allow the choices to happen to me naturally in this moment...and still be able to tell the story of this character's journey.
Now I know I am taking a RISK by working this way. But it is a calculated risk, and I will tell you why...
The risk is...that I will come off looking like I'm an "inconsistent" actor...meaning, that I am incapable of recreating a performance with the same blocking as before...that I'm a "loose cannon."
Now, I know from my own work that I actually have the OPPOSITE problem. I am an EXTREMELY consistent actor...so much so...that I can get into a rut where my performance can become "canned" and "lifeless."
So...for me to grow as an actor...I really want to be able to investigate working in a new way...and exploring this kind of spontaneous variety in my work (within reason) is something that I MUST be able to feel I am allowed to try in whatever grad school I eventually end up attending.
So I am going to work in this fashion right now...in front of Ron and Walton as a sort of...test...for them. Because I want to be accepted to a place that will encourage me to explore these "risky" areas in my work as part of my creative growth...and if I can show the willingness for this kind of exploration now...and they are excited by that and see the value in it and want to help push me further...Then FANTASTIC! Let's do this thing!!!
But, if not.... if they look at me, working in this fashion, and think to themselves...What the hell is this girl doing?
Then I know I'm not in the right place for my own growth as an artist. So by being true to "where I am "at" right now"...I will make sure that I'm ending up in the right place.
I will only have time to get ONE MFA in Acting in this life. I want to make sure that I'm getting it from the right school for ME.
I cannot be anyone other than myself, ultimately...So my job in this audition is to be courageous enough to show them my true artistic self, my true creative spirit and show HOW I work...just like I would like to be able to work in class...and then they can decide if they are interested in spending three years with me.
So, back to our story... I launch into my Shakespeare piece.
Yet again...it is mediocre...All well. That's what it is for now. Really did try my best.
Note to self: learn to love Shakespeare more.
Took my time with the transition into the second piece...but not tooooo long...
Start up my contemporary piece.
I. am. flying.
I totally looooooved every second of doing that monologue for them. So much fun. So spontaneous. Surprised myself. Hit all my emotional moments, but in NEW ways. Felt. Fantastic. Best I've ever done it, perhaps.
When I was finished I said thank you...They said thank you and reminded me that the "End of Day Callback List" would be posted at 1pm and to come back and check the list then.
I floated out of the room and into the hallway.
I thanked Sheria and told her I'd be back later to check the list. She smiled at me and wished me luck.
I grabbed my stuff from the waiting room where all of the 11 o'clocks were simmering in their nervousness. I felt for them...and was relieved that I could exit the nervous soup and get some fresh air.
I met up with my friend J for lunch. We chatted about the audition and then he talked to me about football...a subject I know little-to-nothing about. It was fun to hang out with a friend and be distracted from waiting, waiting, waiting...to see if I'd make the next cut.
Finally, 1pm rolls around and I head back to check the list...When I arrive, the list has not been posted yet. They're running a little behind. So I plop myself down in an empty chair in the upstairs waiting area and pull out my phone. I'm checking my email and Facebook and trying not to look at the clock every 3 seconds...all the while keeping my ears peeled for any announcements regarding the "End of Day Callback List."
Then a sweet young female voice wakes me from my phone-checking-trance...
I glance up and a pretty brown-haired girl sitting in the chair next to me asks, "Is your name Virginia, by any chance? And do you write a blog?"
I blink in disbelief.
"Yes...and yes, I do."
"I thought you looked familiar and I realized that I've seen your picture on the blog...I read it, you know. This is my first time auditioning for grad school and I went to that MFA information session at Juilliard a while back...and you were there and I remembered how you spoke up during the Q&A and told us about the blog. I went home and searched for it online, but I couldn't find it right away. I found it finally, though. And I've been following. It's very inspirational. Thank you."
"Oh, wow! Thank you!"
I could not believe this was really happening. My heart was about to burst with joy!
We sat and chatted a bit and I was so honored that she'd share her experience with me like this. What a gift!
"Your blog makes me feel like I'm not crazy for doing all of this."
I said..."Oh, my gosh! I am so glad it's been helpful to you! That's why I'm doing it! My first year auditioning for grad school, I felt soooo alone. And I had noooo idea what I was doing or why I putting myself through all of this hard work...on the very remote chance that I'd be accepted to one of these super-competitive programs. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me...And, oh dear lord, that Juilliard Q&A was MORTIFYING. I cannot believe that I spoke up that day about the blog...in front of everyone. I felt like a total idiot...I felt like everyone would think that it was soooo foolish, what I was doing...But I HAD TO SPEAK UP that day and tell people about it...because if someone else had started a blog about auditioning for grad school during my first year...I would have loved to have subscribed to it...It would have been so good knowing that somebody else was going through all of the same doubts and fears that I was going through...but that they were still taking action to pursue their dreams too! I would have kicked myself if I hadn't said something just because I was a big 'ol scaredy cat. I still worry about looking like a crazy-person...But now I am really happy that I didn't let that stop me that day, because you never would have known about the blog otherwise...Wow. Thank you."
"Thank you." She said.
Then "the list" for her hour was posted and she headed downstairs to check to see if she'd make it to her "Preliminary Callback."
"Bye, Virginia. Best of luck with your auditions. I really hope you get in this year."
"Bye! You too! Please email me and let me know how things go for you! (I really hope that she does.) Thank you, again!"
And she was gone.
Oh. My. God.
I sat in my chair and stared at the floor.
That really just happened.
I started feeling the tears welling up in my throat.
Just goes to show...Sometimes the greatest thing you'll ever do in your life...is getting over your own fears of looking foolish. Because by speaking up about that thing that you are most passionate about...you might actually be able to make a positive impact on someone else's life...even in a very small way.
Whew. Breathe. Breathe Wilcox.
And I hear a voice calling out from down the stairs... "The End of Day Callback List has been posted for the morning session."
Oh, boy. ~gulp~
I'm either about to go home...or I'm going to find somewhere to curl up and take a nap until 5pm...because I am EXHAUSTED at this point.
I step lightly down the steps toward the door where the list has been posted. Even from far away, I can see that there are only four names on the list. FOUR NAMES.
Will mine be one of them?
Find out tomorrow...in Part Three.