For the past twenty years my time at home verses time away from home has been about a 95/5% ratio. In the past ten years it has become more like 85/15%. My days are as follows: I get up, get kids off, or at least say goodbye to the early birds, go to the gym, come home, do the breakfast thing, do the get ready for the day thing, check facebook thing, do a chore thing and then settle down for some writing or reading.
Occasionally, I audition for a movie or a play or a commercial, but this is only occasionally. Occasionally, I actually get a call back or a part in a short film or a commercial , but this is occasionally. Occasionally I take an acting class that runs for a few weeks or so.
Most of the time I am home when my kids get home. Most of the time I get them to their activities. Most of the time I make dinner, I try to get people to help me clean up. I try to help with homework, but my older kids know they should go right to dad. I usually am home to put people to bed or at least beg and plead that they please go to bed so that I can. That's about the gist of it. It's not that exciting. And this is the way I have chosen to live my life. But as my kids grow older, the opportunity to do something for myself has grown as well. So a few years ago I decided that maybe I'd audition for a play. It didn't go so well...
...Let me start this off by saying that I love the theater. I used to be in lots of plays. Then I decided I wasn't good enough and changed my major to something I was even less gifted in. How I wish I could do college over. Then I got married. Then I had a baby. Then we moved to another state. Then I got the acting bug again. I got professional headshots and tried out for a play and even made callbacks, but didn't get a part. I was also pregnant with my second child. With one car and no family to help out, I realized it would put a strain on my young family so I put acting on a very back burner. Then we moved. Then we had another child. We moved again. Then I had another child. Then I got the bug again.
If you're counting you'll know we now had four kids. While we were within a days drive, we were still not close to family. However, we did have two cars and my eight year old was pretty mature for his age so he was almost old enough to babysit so the possibility of doing some sort of local theater was opening up. (kidding about the eight year old thing.)
So I auditioned for the community play. It was Annie. I didn't have a lead, but I did have a few lines and I learned to tap dance. With four kids, the youngest being a year old and the oldest being eight, it felt great to do something other than change diapers and do dishes all day. The next year I auditioned again and got the part of tap dancer. I could see I was becoming "tap" casted, so I turned them down and decided to take the summer off.
Then I had another child. Then we moved. Then we lived in the country where there weren't any theaters nearby and I didn't even know where to begin. I'm pretty content to stay home and I felt pretty busy with my now large family so I didn't think too much about acting. Then I learned that I loved to write and was okay with not acting. Then we moved again, back to the city where volunteer musical theater is like a profession for some people. (They take their theater seriously here). The bug to act came back in full force. I started taking acting lessons and auditioned for a few bit parts in films, but I still longed to be on the stage.
Eventually, I looked up auditions at different local theaters. I'm so unsure of myself that even putting my foot out there that much felt like a stretch. I let several pass me by before gathering the courage to audition for Scarlet Pimpernel. I was so nervous, but after I did it I really felt great and I walked out of the theater flying high, sure I would get a call back. At the time I said I would only accept a major role and I might have also added I had a few calender conflicts. I mean, I will only accept a lead even though it had been nearly twenty years since I'd had a lead? Delusions of grandeur.
I didn't get a call back.
I licked my wounds and worked up the courage to audition again about six months later, this time for The Secret Garden. This time I said I would accept any role and I didn't say I had any conflicts. I just wanted to be in a play! But I made one fatal flaw. One I realized too late. I noticed that no one had sung anything from that play. I began to connect the dots. "Maybe you aren't supposed to sing a song from the play for which you are auditioning. After all, they might get tired of hearing 100 versions of How could I ever know. I panicked. I had prepared that song from The Secret Garden! I asked a girl if I could look at her music book so I could pick another song. My fingers fumbled clumsily over her huge selection of music. I could hardly think straight. I realized that I wouldn't know the words and I'd be a wreck. I gave it back to her and stewed about what to do. When they called my name I profusely apologized for preparing a song from the very play I was trying out for. I'm sure my face was bright red as they all looked at me with sympathetic, yet unimpressed faces. I sang the song, but knew I probably wouldn't get a call back.
I didn't get a call back.
So I waited another year to gather the courage and try again. Third times a charm. And I wasn't going to make the same mistakes I had made in the past.
So last month I decided to audition for The Sound of Music. I didn't want to screw anything up this time. I made a plan and checked it twice: I prepared a song in the style of the play, but not from the play. CHECK. I had no conflicts and I said I would accept ANY role. CHECK. I almost wrote at the bottom, "Please, please, please have mercy and let me be in your play." I restrained myself. I dressed like a modern Maria, wearing a skirt and blouse and high boots. I probably should have put my hair up in a bun, but I didn't. (kicking myself for that one). Feeling confident, I invited my two daughters to audition with me. We practised their songs each day and I helped them learn how to audition. The day of, I picked them up from school and brought them a change of clothes so we would be on time. We stopped at daughters vocal coach's house for a quick lesson. She gave me a few pointers as well. CHECK. Time to go. Things were working like clock work. We arrived ten minutes early. CHECK. I was so proud of my master planning. Three of us ready to go conquer the stage!
We get out of the car. I ask daughter where the music is....we search the vehicle, my bag, under the seats...twice. NO MUSIC! I begin to panic. Five minutes till go time and we have no music. Well, I have mine, but my daughters don't have theirs. She left it at the vocal coach's house! AGH!!! I make a frantic call to my son who makes a frantic call to my husband who makes a frantic stop at the vocal coach's house. We work like a chain passing the music from one to the next and finally to me as I race back to Kaysville to meet them at the freeway entrance.
I get back to the theater. Now I am nowhere near calm. A flustered knot of nerves is more like it. My girls are nervous wrecks. Everything I taught them flies out the window in their new found fear. However, we get through it with smiles, but secretly I am doubtful any of us will hear back. I go home feeling totally dejected while at the same time trying not to be angry at or blame my daughter for messing up my perfectly planned audition. After all, it could have easily been me. I once went to an audition for a commercial and forgot my resume. Huge no-no! By the time I got back I was an hour late. No I didn't get that one either. Anyway, moving on to a happier side of the story....
While my two lovely daughters did not get call backs, (after all, this was their first audition and Ellie still has braces and nobody wore braces in Austria 1939), I did get a call back, and better yet? I actually got a part in the play! I will be playing Sister Margaretta. And I am thrilled. Thrilled!
As happy as I am to have a part in this play, my absence from theater has been more than evident this last week as rehearsals have begun. More on that in my next blog. But I may have just earned myself the nickname, "Comedy Margaretta".
More to come...