The Audition

15 Feb

LilypadsI know what I need to do.  I need to practice every day. Twice. I need to practice as I will perform, with my pages snapped into a black binder, printed in large enough font for my aging eyes.  I need to practice, practice, practice. I’ve known this since I was fifteen. Probably longer.

I need to practice in front of various audiences. I need moms. I need straight moms. I need men. I need friends who aren’t shy to say what they see, to direct me, to edit, to critique. Once upon a time, I had this sort of team all around me every day. Now, I am re-inventing myself after years away from the stage. This is the kind of support I must re-create. Re-form. Find.

I need to plant my feet firmly on the ground while I speak (read) my piece, confident that each line I deliver will serve to deepen the judges’ conviction that of all the talented writers and performers who audition for Listen to Your Mother, I must be among those invited to participate in their show. My voice must be heard. My words must be shared because my essay rocks. Every word I say must – subtly – underscore this point.  I know all this, and yet …

There are bills to pay, battles to fight, my birthday, homework and a third grade school project to manage, dates to arrange, babysitters to hire, and I haven’t been on stage in a really, really, really long time.  So …

I read aloud for my loving partner. I shave my essay sentence by sentence, taking it down from six minutes to five. I retype. I revise. I reprint. I get bolder. I mark out whole paragraphs, still trying to bring down my time. I bow my head, talk fast, and find at last that I fit under the wire. Barely. Just.

Five days before my audition, I rehearse for one colleague – a man, a director – it’s the first time I’ve read these words aloud outside my own home. He is not afraid to tell me what he thinks, thankfully. He reminds me how to perform. “Show, don’t tell,” he says – not in a writerly way, but in an up-on-your-feet sort of way. He tells me not to use different voices when I recount my daughter’s words as opposed to my own, but suggests that each character be expressed with a different affect. Yes. This is what I need. Is it too late? Is it too near my audition for his advice to take hold in the dustiest part of my brain?

I practice in front of two more colleagues two days before my audition – “Diversify your audience,” I say in my head!  They laugh. They cry. They are my allies, my friends. Neither of them is yet a mom – but soon, soon. The only mom who’s heard my words, the only mom I’ve read this to, whose child breathes outside her own body – is Kelly, my loving partner.

One day remains.

What if I read my piece – from my freshly-printed, loose-leaf, large-font pages on top of my daughter’s red plastic school folder, in a small photography studio – and my judges are not on my side?  What if I say (as I do) in the beginning of my monologue that I believe any two women should have the right to marry if they choose, and my judges vehemently disagree?  It isn’t about what’s right or wrong for me – I have strong convictions, strong beliefs, and I’m willing to tell anyone where I stand. But what must I say to be cast in their show?

These doubts crowd me.

I am an actor. Again. And as an actor, I am at the mercy of these judges – as warm and upbeat, as nurturing and feminist-friendly as they are.  I want them on my side.

I open the door and walk through.  I smile.  They are warm and kind, yes, funny and friendly.

My inner critic takes the volume up a notch.  Do their convictions on marriage and faith figure into their decision about who they put on the stage?

Inside the studio, I hand them my monologue and my signed release.  I warmly shake each of their hands, and quickly challenge myself to not allow my perception of their response – whether I feel them traveling with me on this parenting journey as a lesbian mom in the throes of a national marriage debate, or not – to impact how I perform.  I challenge myself to not retract out of fear they’ll turn me down. Will this challenge make me come on too strong? Or will I – by using the proverbial fourth wall – more easily move into my story and occupy my own words with heart and aplomb?

Afterwards, they thank me and say within a week, they’ll let me know either way.

There is no laughter, no tears. Are they on my side? How can I know?

I wait.

… Less than a week later, I learn I’m in!  I’m in!!!!! Here is the full Chicago cast for Listen to Your Mother, at the Athenaeum Theatre on May 5, 2013.  I’m still in shock. I can’t believe it’s true.  Thank you to Peaches & Coconuts for the nudge to submit – YOU ROCK.  And THANK YOU to the organizers, Melisa and Tracey. Wow. Just – Thank you.

Addendum (2/18): Tickets are now on sale! So if you’re planning to come, click here 🙂

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31 Responses to “The Audition”

  1. Melisa February 15, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    This is such a great post, RoiAnn! It made me cry a little bit. And to answer your question, though Tracey and I are both allies and believe that anyone should be able to marry who they want, we wouldn’t decide against casting someone in our show if they had differing beliefs from us because we’re always interested in different perspectives. We are THRILLED to have you on board this train with us! 🙂

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Clearly, I am thrilled – beyond thrilled – to be part of your show, and to work with you. Your commitment to building a community of writers is stunning. And beautifully inspiring. I did figure out pretty quickly that you and Tracey strive for a range of perspectives, too – my worries on that point were mostly just my particular brand of self-doubt. Still, it makes me smile to see your response. Thank you.

  2. Shannon February 15, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    After reading this, I am even more excited to be taking this journey with you, RoiAnn!

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      I can’t wait to meet you, Shannon, and feel the same about your post! High five! (Do people still do those? Ack. My dork is showing.)

      • Anonymous February 15, 2013 at 10:06 am #

        FTR, I love high fives. 😉

  3. Julie Nilson February 15, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Awesome! That’s so exciting. Well done!

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      Thank you, Julie! 🙂

  4. Sarah K February 15, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Congratulations!!! What an amazing story and accomplishment!! Can wait to see it myself!

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Yay! Yes, please come 🙂 Tickets go on sale Monday. I’ll post details here. Thank you, Sarah.

  5. deborahy2k February 15, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Very excited that you will be on stage sharing yourself and your words and gutted that I won’t be there to see it in person. Make sure someone records your reading so you (and I) won’t have to wait until the videos go live. Congratulations!!

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you, Deborah! I can’t thank you enough for shooting me a note right before Chicago’s submission deadline and encouraging me to give it a shot. This was exactly what I needed to get back on the stage, now among both WRITERS and performers. How is it that you pop up into my life, virtually or actually, in these times of … dare I say transition?… Life Overhaul? Thank you.

      • deborahy2k February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

        Universal weirdness? Of course, you are the one who is fearless-welcoming new experiences, change and opportunities. I happen to be at the right place at the right time. Lucky for me!

  6. Joy February 15, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    You go girl!!!

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you, my friend!! 🙂 Always. For your support and for your faith in me. Love you much.

  7. traceybecker February 15, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    I have to agree with everything Melisa said. I am very firm in my beliefs of equality for EVERYONE, in everything, actually. Two of my best friends have had to fight for their rights and it never fails to astound me that it’s even a QUESTION anymore… Welcome to the show!

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Thank you so much, Tracey, for the opportunity – I look forward to working with you!!

  8. outrunning the storm February 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    How wonderful! I am so happy for you! I hope you will post your submission here afterwards for those of us who can’t attend.

    • rrp69 February 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Mmmm – lovely idea. Or the video, once they’re posted on LTYM’s site… sometime after Mother’s Day 🙂 Thank you!

  9. Eileen February 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Congratulations on your wonderful achievement!

    • rrp69 February 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Thank you! 🙂

  10. Tracy Jensen (@chimomwriter) February 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    I love you you captured the process. It’s going to be a great ride, and I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with you!

    • rrp69 February 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Likewise – can’t wait to hear your story!

  11. Marianne February 16, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Beautiful post. I can appreciate the angst. Angst are I are total BFF’s. Looking forward to meeting you!

    • rrp69 February 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

      I look forward to meeting you, too!

  12. Shannan February 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    So excited to get to share the journey and the stage with you! I loved your “I’m in!!!!” Made me giddy all over again 🙂

    • rrp69 February 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

      Just like reading comments from fellow cast members is making ME giddy all over again! Cheers.

  13. debweeks February 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Congratulations! I’ll have to check my calendar and see if I can make a trip up to Chicago to see the show.

    • rrp69 February 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Oh, fantastic! I hope it works out. Seems like a pretty powerful group of storytellers sharing the stage… I haven’t met any of them yet, but I’ve sure been enjoying their blogs 🙂 You’ll have to be sure to introduce yourself if you make it up here!

  14. chrisbatten18 April 24, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    Congratulations!! I loved this post so much! You’re giving me the inspiration to start auditioning again. I’ve been dealing with really bad anxiety and it scares the crap out of me to think of auditioning lately….I know I just have to take a deep breath, embrace the fear, accept it, and it’ll pass. (easier said than done…lol)

    I love that you didn’t sacrifice any part of yourself for this role. You were open, honest, and proud. You are truly an inspiration.

    • rrp69 April 25, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      That is great! It’s so much fun once you breathe through the fear, no? Whenever you choose to step onto the stage again: Break a leg! I’m happy to hear I’ve been some small part of your journey.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Stories of Motherhood: LTYM 2014 | Are you the babysitter? - January 17, 2014

    […] a tremendous experience last year. I submitted a story to Listen to Your Mother. I was invited to audition, and ultimately got cast in the show. I met bloggers, writers, moms, not-moms, creative people. I […]

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