ah well- i seem to have gotten away with not making an episode on this one…
the story about baci was true, and i’m sure that I had an audition as well, but i have completely forgotten what it was an audition for. this is long before I was represented by an agent, so it couldn’t have been that mush of a big deal, but wow was I scared to go on auditions in the beginning. I took four levels of improv at the UCB in new york a few years before the show, and in my last class I was told by my teacher – who is also one of my favorite improvisors – that I needed to get more experience on stage. He was so potently disappointed in the lot of us, and let it show quite a bit. He recommended the Atlantic Theatre Company, and I enrolled in their summer course, which was my first real introduction to how fucked up acting can be. In one way it was quite wonderful. Long hot days with a voice coach making strange guttural noises and stretching my incredibly inflexible body in ways that it was unaccustomed to. The school was founded on Mamet’s ideology – which I like at it’s core but like everything else can become disturbed as it passes from hand to hand. We practiced repetition, which is pretty comical unless you commit yourself to it, and then it becomes frightening much in the way that any red blooded cult might be. We would analyze scripts based on basic intention statements, like “I want to to get you to apologize”, or “I want to put you in your place” – then we would practice speaking from those intentions by calling up old memories of being in that place and feeling how the words ran up and out of our gullets. Fascinating, all of it. Less fascinating were the other students – all of which were there to become real actors. I just wanted to get more comfortable on stage, whatever the fuck that meant. But fuck it. I do know what it means. I need to know if there are rules. Sometimes I can get overwhelmed by the thought that there are structures that everyone knows but me – and that saps confidence out of my body in an instant. It sounds, as i write this, that I am more afraid of doing it wrong than I am driven to do something right. And I think there is truth in that.
The first auditions I went on were painful. I talked to everyone in the waiting room… all of whom wanted me to suck and expected that I wished the same for them. Silly boy. When I’m nervous or afraid I accelerate into it. I always have. Once that metaphor saved my life. I was kayaking in a river up in Maine and was sucked into a waterfall. It was so dreadful. That moment when I realized that no amount of strength could keep me from the edge. So I turned into it and paddled as hard and as deeply as I could. I don’t remember the middle of it, but I came out right on the bottom.
Sometimes I wonder though. How many windmills did I rush along the way.
allow me this style of writing today. I needed it.