Thursday, September 6, 2007

30 Something White Guy

Had the strangest audition on Sunday. Strange for a few reasons. First, this audition was not for a play, but for new hire training. A man from Seattle uses Improv theatre techniques to stage workplace scenarious, sometimes with the participatioin of the new hires. Pays incredibly well, more like my daily rate for software training. The audition included 18 actors, about a third I know from New Orleans stages, and the rest were probably film hopefuls. The film hopefuls dressed to impress, heavy makeup (even the men), but the stage actors were dressed to move. After an impassioned 45-minute presentation, the man from Seattle grouped us into pairs, gave each pair a one-paragraph scene summary and 15 minutes to prepare. And then we all watched everybody's scenes. The scenes were actual training scenarios, most with highly charged emotions.

Emotions? In the workplace? Turns out, the new hires in this case are the brave folks who approach a grieving family within the first 24 hours after a death to request organ donation. Talk about emotionally charged work! Thankfully, the actors are not training how to collect organs, merely how to ask. Unfortunately, the consent rate is low. The man from Seattle claims that his Improv theatre training technique increases the consent rate from 2 or 3% to as much as 55%.

So we Improv'd scenes in which a dead person's ghost returns to thank a family member for consenting to donate their organs, ostensibly giving some meaning to their death. Or a person who received an organ thanks the family member who consented. In my case, my partner and I were a married couple who could not afford an expensive birthday gift for our child. The purpose of the exercise seemed to be about active listening or non-judgmental communication. I feel very happy about our scene work, in fact, think my partner and I were one of the strongest pairs. There were some other excellent performances by Randy Maggiore, who was compassionate and handsome in Ordinary People recently, and by Angie Joaquin, who I only know by reputation.

In the end, I did not get a "part" because the man from Seattle (director?) said he does not need my "particular demographic". (?) 30-something white guy? Do I mention that I'm actually half Filipino? He did hire my beautiful friend Eric Rosengren, who gave a heartfelt performance in his scene with Angie Joaquin but is also a 30-something white guy. Maybe man from Seattle only needs one. I don't know. He did RAVE about my performance, said I was "animated, sharp, real" and asked that I be on his list of actors for future trainings. I consented.

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