Chaos Attraction

Gumbo Audition

2019-02-25, 6:43 a.m.

Two things today:

(a) I am working, and by working I mean “mostly dragging,” through this book called “Claim Your Power” that claims to get you over your various fears about getting on and doing shit. I bought this book in Napa and you’re supposed to work on it for 40 days but I have been getting kind of stalling about it here and there. There are moments of YES! I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS BIT! and then you have to do journaling, which I am less simpatico with. There are some days where I am all, “You know, I can’t conjure up some happy memory when I was a child, because I was a bullied and unhappy and scared child” or “I don’t really care about blah blah my health, I’m fine with it as is in general, I’m just in this for the career bits” and “What do I care about finding a relationship any more? I’m not willing to do what it takes so fuck it.” You get the drift.

But was talking about how you need to get the emotional impetus to get on it and do something. So the book wanted you to write your own obituary if you died today. As you can imagine, this was not outstanding and pretty much boiled down to “grew up in Cowtown, went to Cowtown High, moved here for college, had a brief but awesome stint as a newspaper reporter and then became a clerical worker until she died, she liked crafts, survived by her mother.”

I think this was supposed to get me all sad and motivated to change there.

But then the author wants you to write about what your obituary would be if you succeeded in life and THAT is what I really enjoyed, actually. I started making up book titles and one-woman show titles that I’d like to do and writing down stuff like “lives part time in Hawaii.” (Oh yeah, and finding someone, who I dubbed “Mr. Imaginary,” for obvious reasons, when Uranus hits my seventh house, hahahahah.) And I actually got really excited by this one. So well, emotions kicked in somewhere!

And now, Gumbo: (A reminder for nobody: this is that show I was in last January that accepts everyone who auditions, and now it’s back for March.)

So auditions for Gumbo started tonight! In pouring-ass rain, but at least it wasn’t absolutely deadly rain or hail today, so there’s that.*

* On a related yet not related note today, I asked my coworkers who grew up in snow what the difference is between hail--i.e. frozen rain from the sky--and snow, i.e. frozen rain from the sky. “Hail is frozen balls, while snow is soft flakes,” they explained. However, I still don’t get how the frozen rain from the sky becomes soft flakes? Nobody explained that one to me.

Okay, super digression, moving on. Back to Gumbo.

I kept checking the audition website for the last few months and it said next to goddamned nothing about what was going on with Gumbo this year. I actually e-mailed Sam to ask the following:
(a) So hey, I saw you’re going to start directing another play and the rehearsals for it are starting RIGHT in the midst of Gumbo! Does that mean Gumbo isn’t going on? How is that going to work?
(b) If Gumbo is going on, what is this year’s theme?

To all of that, he ONLY wrote back that yes, Gumbo was going on, and the time and location. NO ANSWER ON THE THEME. Or the “how you gonna juggle two shows” either. So I had no effing idea what the theme was. Was there NO theme? Or was it “diversity” because there was a mention of diversity on the website? And if it’s diversity...well, you can’t tell from the Internet, but I’m yet another shitty white girl so I have none, unless we count my weird religion.

So come oh, Sunday, I was trying to figure out what the hell I’d do for an audition (a) if there’s NO theme, or (b) what if the theme is diversity? I decided that if there was no theme I’d just tell some story or other to be determined (never did figure out what I would have done there), and then I tried to brainstorm something about being (a) generally weird, (b) how people are weirded out by weirdness of all sorts including “being a person of color or gay or well, anything not bog standard white male” and throwing in (c) can I think of anything to do with being a hippie to throw into this? My brainstorming and writings on this were not going well. At one point I decided I’d just do a monologue from The Geek Feminist Manifesto on the topic....

Yeah, I had no idea. In the end, I was all “gonna have to wing it.”

I got there about 25 minutes early (traffic was not nightmarish despite the rain, as it turns out) and saw the poster for the auditions.

This year’s theme: Family. (Uggggggh, says I.)

“Please prepare an audition that demonstrates an area in performing arts in which you are talented and reflects your concept of “Family.” Please be prepared to communicate which concept of “Family” your audition reflects. For example:

* Family of Music: (Takes place in the Cotton Club of 1930’s.)
* Family traditions: cultural expectations, roots, language, etc.
* Family by Choice vs. Family by Blood: heritage, betrayal, etc.
* Family Loss: memorial, spiritual connection after death, etc.


Really, the closest I could do was #3. I am not a musician or an expert in the Cotton Club style of such. I am a shitty white girl and thus do not have anything to contribute to cultural expectations, roots, language, etc. And frankly, I don’t want to dwell on my dad’s death and I can’t say I’ve had much spiritual connection to him after (he wasn’t into that sort of thing anyway so would be super surprised if he like, visited or anything. That shit runs more on Mom’s side anyway.)

So I started having to make up some fucking shit on the spot. As you do.

Anyway, new developments:
(a) Rehearsals will be Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays (7-10) and Saturdays (10-3). What, no Wednesdays or Fridays? I am boggled at this.

(b) They are starting THURSDAY, this Thursday, which I categorically cannot do because I have two more weeks of my class to go and uh, teach. It sounds like Thursday is when they are going to decide who is in the show* and when some of us said we can’t make Thursday, he was all “okay, we’ll call you to let you know if you need to show up Saturday.”

* I am unclear if that means “okay, whose audition bits are we actually going to put into the show” or “we may actually reject some people this year” or what.

(Notes for next year:
(a) I am gonna have to drive to this dang campus, pay for parking for five minutes, get out of the car and physically FIND THE FUCKING FLYER to find out what is going on here next year, apparently. Or tell Melanie to get her butt over there and find the flyer for me, but last I heard from her despite her working in the theater department in costumes so you’d think she’d be in the vicinity to see it, she knew nothing about what was going on with it.
(b) I’m not signing up to teach a CC class in winter again.
(c) Probably shouldn’t do a CC shift in general in winter again, really. Sigh.)

It sounds like they will portion out the individual act rehearsals on the weekdays and rehearse the group numbers on Saturdays. One hopes, anyway. Sarah wasn’t there but there were two new other co-directors there whose names I missed. Anyway, they filmed all the auditions to show to Sarah later. And said they should be 1-2 minutes long, which again we were not expecting. Again, some notice ahead of time would be great here.

Some of the folks that were in it last year were there this year, including my favorite, Davina. Davina and I sat together and chatted, Dria was over by us about half the time. Yay for folks I know!

As far as I saw, here were the audition acts:

* A retired army person and did a monologue about the family of the military.
* Sung a blues song
* Did a monologue from real life about when her grandmother died.
* Three people did “You Can Learn To Do It Too” together from the movie Anastasia.
* Played piano.
* A couple said they were doing a skit about the fifth dimension (Sam told them to look up the band Fifth Dimension on YouTube) but really just sang “You’ll Be In My Heart.” I’m a little confused on that skit thing.
* Me: we’ll get to me later.
* One from last yearf irst sang a song in Ukranian and then did a dance to a song about her dead dad. She now has a huge crop of curly red hair (wasn’t she blonde last year, with less hair?) and another had shorter red hair, and hell, I had red hair last year. Now we all have new hair!) so I didn’t recognize her until she talked.
* One did a dance which involved several sudden dramatic body flop drops to the floor that were genuinely shocking. However, I would have extreme reservations about him rehearsing that one over and over again (at least not without a mat beneath him) if it makes it into the show. It looked damn cool, though, if probably quite injurious if you did it a lot.
* Sang a lovely song.
* Davina: did a monologue from a play called “The Mojo and the Say So,” which she said she did in Sam’s class last semester. He told her months ago that family was going to be the theme of Gumbo and she should do it in the audition. (I am all SO WHY DIDN’T HE TELL ME?)
* Original monologue, pretty poetical.
* Original piano song about losing a loved one, also very lovely.

Overall I don’t think anyone did much of anything about their family traditions! I think they’ve got some good musical numbers and a few folks who can do the mourning section. One lady and I seemed to be down with the choice vs. blood section. Not sure otherwise?

As for me: I made up a monologue on the spot. I had a pretty strong start and petered out by the end, which is to be expected when you didn’t exactly get much time to figure out that bit. I started out with saying that our society pretty much promises/guarantees that your family will love you, that they have to love you, that they’ll make you feel all snuggly warm and good inside. “Now, who else here thinks that’s a lie?” I got one hand raised and I was all “yeah, I knew someone else would too!” So then I was all, I never fit in with my relatives, Dad’s side never liked me because I’m a weirdo and they’re right, they dropped us after Dad died and I’m fine with that. Mom’s side just aren’t that interested and still don’t invite us for Christmas, so I’ve been looking for a nice found family like on all the Whedon TV shows (or in a theater show!) for years and haven’t found one. So that’s the petered out bit. Never did come up with a button for it, ah well.

Theoretically the judges would ask you questions about your bit, and one asked if I’d be open to revisions. I was all, “well, I e-mailed Sam to ask what the show’s theme was, and you didn’t tell me, so I just found out when I GOT HERE, and I was just winging that, so yes, I am totally open to revisions!” Can I memorize it? Sure. I am good at improv and storytelling, y’all.

Now, I don’t really care too much if my “act” makes it into the show or not, I’m just happy to be in the ensemble at this point, but I am slightly wondering if it *might.* I think I make some good points about how family ain’t all that and a bag of chips, anyway, and some other people have to feel like this too and they might wanna have some representation.

After it was over, I told Davina (and pointed out the flyer on the wall on it to her) that Sam was double booked for another show and she is boggling at that too. We really wanna know how the hell he is handling this (“and classes!”). Davina wanted to yell it out to him and I wanted to join in, but he was too far away at the time. Maybe later.

Anyway....if I have Friday night free, which it is looking like I might, I may be able to drop in on the next standup comedy show with the professor after all. Hm. We shall see. Oh, and speaking of, when I was looking up when the standup show was, it looks like the last one is up online. Should you want to see the professor doing a lovely set about incels, here it is.

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