Auditions are challenging enough when you have to do a monologue a cold reading from their script. But at an improv audition, you’re expected to create a character and your own lines…on the spot.
Yesterday I had not one but two improv auditions, at
1. Second City. Yes, the Second City, which helped launch the careers of many actors, including Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, Dan Castallaneta, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. SC is holding three days of open, group auditions for “various opportunities.” I’d like to get involved with their communications division, which does corporate training and workshops…so I attached my work resume to my headshot with my acting one. Most people auditioning were probably half my age, so I doubt they’ve had the years of experience I’ve had working with executives. Will that help?
I arrived early, of course. The waiting area was filled with eager, very nicely dressed and, as expected, young improvisers. Surprisingly, more than 75% were men. Off to the left, I saw my improv teacher from my last class was warming up with a group of around 10. The leader had them do a an improv listening excercise and then a bunch of three line scenes (it’s even harder to do improv with people you don’t know…one reason why most improv groups have weekly rehearsals). Next I saw a classmate, who’d just finished her audition. Then it was my group’s turn to warm up. An interesting mix of 5 men and 3 other women.
In the theatre waited 10 auditioners. We stepped on stage, and were told to introduce ourselves and reveal our “special skill.” First were short scenes, where the guy running the audition would call out a name of the person who’d start the scene after being joined by anyone else in line. When my name was called, another woman stepped forward to join me.
Picture yourself standing there on the stage in bright lights before all these people staring and judging you as you think of something to say.
You have to let go and just be in the moment.
The first thing that popped into my head was that we were best friends celebrating their 25th anniversary. My second scene was with a guy who apologized for putting a Magic Marker in the laundry. Very hard to tell how either was received.
Next we were asked to sit in the audience, then called up two at a time for a longer scene with a suggestion. Interesting that all the pairs were male/female. The suggestion for my scene was ‘camp fire.’ Immediately my scene partner started making a fire…but failed, like he failed at everything in our relationship. We got a small laugh or two.
Did I hold my own? I think so. Was I good enough for a callback? Time will tell…
Coming up: my second audition of the day…