Friday, March 31, 2006

the war of attrition

i went to the equity building early yesterday afternoon to audition for an industrial showcase for state farm. renee called me and told me about it and it made sense to go and at least toss my hat in the ring because it would start rehearsing right after i did the show i've already got upstate. the pay would be great. and they're going to chicago and las vegas, at the end of the summer and later in the fall, respectively. i couldn't make it for the female singers call that morning. would they see me during the male singers call? why not try to be seen? what's the worst that could happen?

here's the way it works for a chorus call: they post the audition information and if you're equity, you get to sign your name onto a list on a big board on the 2nd floor of the equity building. when the audition time comes up, that list comes down and they call the names on the list. when your name is called, you step forward and take a numbered card and fill it out. you give that card to the monitor, along with your headshot, right before you go in to audition. a lot of people sign up but they don't show up, which is great for walk-ins like me. they separate males and females. and if you're non union, you get seen at the end of the day after they've seen everyone that's union if they're not too worn out to bother. (big if, folks. big if.) many's the day i sat there outside of that lounge all day (you can only go in the lounge area if you're equity), only to be told that they're too exhausted to hear me sing 16 bars. but i digress.

they had three auditions going at once. it was a real zoo. i showed up when the powers that be were having lunch, so things were strangely quiet. and then all of a sudden, there was bedlam -- everyone was walking around with their books open, their shoes off, hot rollers in their hair, catching up with friends and everything else. i was the only black girl there for a minute -- and with good reason: audition 1 was for an equity workshop of "little house on the prairie" (someone wants to turn it into a musical); audition 2 was for an upcoming season of straight classic plays for a theater company in utah (they wanted monologues and i wasn't prepared); and audition 3 was for the industrial. i had missed the female singers call that morning because i had a doctor's appointment and i wanted to be seen but they were seeing male singers in the afternoon. and after sifting through a list of 257 names to see who was there, they came up with 130 guys. each of them would walk in and hit 8 bars. pow, that's it. that meant that they weren't seeing any women. no time. no room. oh, well. that didn't phase me. if God wanted me to get the part, i'd get it -- and nothing that i could do to screw it up would keep it from me.
i thought, i'm here so i may as well be seen for something. so i went in for "the little house" gig. why shouldn't they consider me? we were out there on the prairie, too -- as cowboys and frontierswomen and railroad workers and everything else, quiet as it's kept.

stacy was there. she'd showed up earlier and showed her ass when they wouldn't let her into the female singers call that morning so she was back to see if she could get in at all. and tamara was there, too -- she took the numbered card right before mine for the prairie gig and she had a monologue ready for utah. we went into the women's dressing room and did a severe amount of catching up. when i went in there before to put on a light beat and change shoes, everyone was exchanging stories. the room was full but i remember specific ones: there was a redhead in a flowery gypsy skirt, trying hard to affect a prairie look; a blonde in hot rollers and a cute pink strapless number that she confided was her bridesmaid's dress, which brought gasps and appreciative murmurs from everyone; and a brownskinned black woman with beautiful pumps that i couldn't stop staring at.

this is the two cents that i pitched in.

i told them that when i was a little kid, i thought that i'd make it because i had talent and talent was all that anyone needed. but i was wrong. there are plenty of talented people who aren't working or who are barely getting by, while people with hardly any talent at all work constantly and have enviable careers. so what do you really need to make it? after a moment, everyone pitched in their thoughts -- "connections," someone said. "luck," said someone else. i let all of them finish and then i said, really now, you only need one thing. one little thing. all you need is to never, ever, ever give up.

and with that, the redhead stopped readjusting her hair and turned around and said, it's the war of attrition.

everyone chimed in with their opinions. everyone agreed. what a perfect way to say it. i threw my head back and laughed. that's it. the war of attrition. that's what i'm doing: i'm wearing them down. that does it, i said. i was thinking about leaving and now, i've decided not to go. the room cheered me on. and with that, i went outside and filled out my numbered card and waited my turn. they wanted my best 16 bars. i think i gave it to them.

as i was headed home, i checked my messages. my commercial agent called with an audition. could i come in on tuesday to be seen for an industrial showcase for state farm?

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