Driving by the Playhouse Community Theatre, I saw a large hand written sign that said AUDITION NOTICE.
Underneath the letters, it said: "The Big One"
'Looking for men age 20 to 30 and women age 18 to 30, for a new show written especially for the Playhouse Community Theatre.
There is one man and one woman in this show about what would happen if they were the only two people left for over a thousand miles after a nuclear bomb strike 78 miles from where they lived'.
"Today between 1PM and 4PM!"
I looked down at my watch and noticed it was 12:45 so I decided to stick around and see more about this. It had been a few years since I had done any acting and at 28, I'm on the edge of the range they're looking for.
I'm Michael Travis - 28, brown hair and eyes, 6ft tall exactly.
I was born and grew up in this town but left for college out of state, and now I'm back in town looking for work and maybe trying out for this play.
As it gets closer to 1PM people start to arrive. I guess the notice was in the paper or online, because by the time the Audition Committee shows up, there are close to 45 of us there.
If you've never done theatre before, there is one of three things that happen between people as they mingle before an audition:
They know each other but feel too nervous to say anything. They don't know anybody there so they just keep to themselves. Lastly, Those who walk up to anybody and start to strike up a conversation.
There are also the people who come in a group to the audition, and then talk a mile a minute, not necessarily aware that their incessant talking is bothering the hell out of everybody else.
I walked over to a rather pretty girl and said, "Hi! My name is Mike, have you done anything at this theatre before?"
She acknowledges that I spoke to her, but she appears to be very nervous or maybe high strung. She hesitantly says, "My name is Amy — nice to meet you Mike. I haven't acted since high school - my mom saw the notice in the paper and talked me into it."
After some more conversation, I found that she's 26 - brown eyes and hair, and went back to live with her widowed mother after college.
We picked up the forms to fill out and a copy of the scene that they wanted everyone to audition with, so I asked Amy if she'd like to audition with me. She said sure, and we walked to a spot and practiced the dialogue a couple of times through.
It read like one of those silly sci-fi movies made in the 50s, right after the nuclear threat of war began.
Amy is very good and reads with emotion. She seems very devil-may-care, and she's not so pretty that she could get the part.
Let me explain that? Acting at all levels from high school on is NOT about talent at least not usually. Sometimes it's attitude, often it's how old you look - not how old you are, short, tall, fat, slender, plain or pretty.
It's our turn to audition. After hearing us say our names they have us go through the scene. Suddenly, Amy gets this perfect amount of pissed off in her voice, and I picked up on it and we're really getting into it. The director says, "Thank you, very nice!" and we leave the stage together.
After everyone has tried out the director turns and says, "Don't anybody leave, yet! I want to see all the girls on up on stage left and all the boys up on stage right. I want to see how everybody looks together."
So, a boy comes out, and then a girl. The director shines a bright flashlight at them, for what purpose I can't tell. I arrange myself, so Amy and I will be together on stage for at least a moment, so he can see us under 'his flashlight'. After about an hour of this he announces, "Everybody can go except Amy Tolliver and Michael Travis! Thank you all very much auditions for Blithe Spirit are in four weeks come back if you want more rejection!"
The place cleared out, and all that was left was Amy and me -plus the director, Kevin Greene.
"Neither of you remember me, but I know and have seen both of you act before. The rest of these kids just read for me today. You two 'became' the main characters!"
"Amy, I dated your mother a billion years ago, but I was a big ass-hole and didn't realize the good thing that I walked away from. I remember you in Glass Menagerie, and I thought you were the best thing in it. Don't know why I haven't seen you here in a while? I can only assume you had demons to purge or were just too nervous to make the leap from high school to community theatre."
"Michael, before you left for college somewhere, I thought you were terrific as Elwood in Harvey. Nobody ever made me believe before that Harvey was actually there."
"Here are scripts to make things easy, your characters name will be changed to your own first names. There is a lot of dialogue with some adult language, and if you are willing a possible make-out scene."
I looked over at Amy, who was blushing a little. I may have been as well.
"Get to know each other, guys — in real life. That will make this a whole lot easier to believe, OK? Read-through is on Monday the author is local and won't mind an edit or two to his script but authors are notoriously fragile, so we must keep the core of the story. Go home!"
As we were walking back to our cars, I turned to Amy and said, "What just happened, exactly? I wasn't even sure I wanted to try out, and now my next twelve weeks are not my own. The saving grace to this is that I met you today. You want to go somewhere and look over the script; I'll spring for coffee?" I was trying to be charming, but not really sure if it was working.
"Michael," she said. "When he said there was a possible make-out scene did I see you checking me out?"
"Well, Amy — we are the last two people in hundreds of miles. We probably will have to repopulate the planet all by ourselves!" I said with a smarmy grin."
"You wish!" she said suddenly becoming alluring to me.
"Where are we meeting for Coffee someplace loud or quiet?"
"Michael, stop trying so hard. We might be making out on stage very soon don't try so hard, OK! Is my car safe here so we can go somewhere together?"
"Are we still just talking about coffee?"
"Michael ... behave!"
"Out of all the theatres in the world she had to walk into mine," I said.
"That was a pretty good Robert Mitchum impersonation, Michael?"
"That wasn't Robert ... you're mocking me aren't you?"
"Oh, silly boy — take me to coffee please?"
We went to Starbucks together - my treat in more ways than one. We got to know one another, I told her that I was adopted and never cared to find my birth mother. Her story included that her biological father left but her mom got remarried, and she calls him 'Dad'.
The script is a one-act that got fleshed out into a longer story, both by the same local author. It's only two people. That's a lot of lines for just the two of us.
I took her back to her car. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses saying our good-byes. For a moment, we just stood there looking at one another ... than she got into her car-honked good-bye and drove away.