Time: 3pm Sunday
Location: Lobby of a theater
Situation: 3 blonde actresses audition for big-time director, Mister Paris.
Props: Warrior Woman and Mature Woman both have headshots. Sexy Woman has no headshot.
Warrior Woman: You call this a callback? This is a fucking cattle call! There must be at least 40 actresses in the lobby! All blondes!
Mature Woman: (interrupted during vocal warm-ups) Darling I assure you, hardly none of them are natural. (indicating someone in the audience) I’m pretty confident that one’s a transvestite.(resumes vocal warm-ups)
Warrior Woman: Some of these bitches weren't even here for the first round!
Sexy Woman: (interjecting herself into conversation) This is my first audition. Ever.
Mature Woman: (inspecting the competition) What's that, Dear?
Sexy Woman: I met this guy at the bar where I work. Well I just started working there. Part-time, mostly slow nights like Monday and Tuesday, a few days. But I hope to pick up a weekend shift soon. Anyway, this guy told me he's a director, and he's casting talented actresses to be in his new play he wrote.
Mature Woman: Wait a minute. You met “the” Troy Paris, multiple winner of the Big Easy, Storer Boone, Marquee and even a couple frickin' Ambi awards, at a bar? Was it Dino’s? Who was with him, anybody famous? Did they hit on you?
Sexy Woman: Probably. He said the play is called “The Golden Apple, a tale of petty jealousies, passions gone awry, and self-sacrifices made in the name of love.” Wrote it himself. He says the lead female role could make an actress in New Orleans. Photo in the Langiappe (pronounces it Lag-nee-app) section of the paper. Big Easy something-or-other. Especially a fresh face, he says. An unknown, someone new in town like me, maybe a bit clueless about New Orleans theater, but chock full of pluck and vigor!
Mature Woman: (to one of the other 40 blonde actresses walking by) Hey, this theater got a bar?
Warrior Woman: So this is your first audition, ever? Then I take it, you did not graduate from a prestigious drama school, no? Where you would have auditioned for college productions. MFA? BA? BS?! You know, you won't get very far in New Orleans theater without a degree. Whereas, I have arduously applied myself to the study of “methods”, those of Stanislavski, Meisner…
Mature Woman: Stella Adler!
Warrior Woman: And the essays of Berthold Brecht. But you just waltz in here without so much as a resume or a headshot, with hair like golden fleece, body of a love goddess, and that rack, but no formal theater training at all? Stage Combat, Suzuki, Alexander Technique?
Mature Woman: Yoga?
Sexy Woman: I don't think so. I told the guy I didn't have any prior acting experience. But he said “oh anybody can act, guided by the right director.” Told me to show up here at the theater at 3pm Sunday. And I figured, I'm new in town. What’ve I got going, on a Sunday? So here I am!
Mature Woman: Let me get this straight. Troy Paris is getting drunk at Dino’s and gets a gander at your pair of golden apples...
Warrior Woman: You know, maybe Mister Paris does not make casting decisions based on bust size. I mean, maybe Paris is Gay? No, think about it. He never has a girlfriend. He’s brilliant, handsome, accomplished, but he’s always seen at public events in the company of much older, matronly women. Mothers of his friends.
Mature Woman: What? A Gay man working in theater? Surely you are joking.
Warrior Woman: Maybe he's closeted.
Mature Woman: A closeted Gay man, working in theater, in New Orleans? Why bother being closeted?
Sexy Woman: I know, right? Come out, come out, where ever you are!
Mature Woman decides she likes Sexy Woman after all.
Warrior Woman: Whether or not Mister Paris is a closeted Gay, my point is, casting is not supposed to be about surface-level appearances, a beauty contest. It's supposed to be about training, rigorous self-examination, commitment to research, and strict adherence to craft. Besides, any actress can be made to look beautiful in the right costume, make-up, lighting.
Mature Woman: Ha, training! Research! What about ability? Natural talent? Or how ‘bout this one: Good judgment tempered by years of experience? Or just plain ol’ stick-to-itiveness. They say 98 percent of success is just showing up. And my ass has shown up to every audition in every kind of venue all over the Gulf South, from Ty Tracy to True Brew to the Saenger. Every black box, backroom bar, art gallery, storefront, and even a couple park benches. Haven’t I seen it all? Nevermind. The few juicy parts always go to the young. New Orleans directors have a prejudice for youth, or haven’t you noticed? "Oh, it's hard to find mature actors. Mature actors don’t come to auditions unless you personally invite them, and not even then. Blah blah." Hello Troy Paris! Mature actress right here at your callback audition! (to Sexy Woman) Although not too mature to still play the ingénue…the ingénue’s best friend? Well, in the right costume, make-up, and lighting!
Warrior Woman: For audio drama?
Mature Woman: I'm sorry. Did somebody say something? No, I'm serious as a heart attack! New Orleans directors prefer the young, even to the point of absurdity. Case in point, I recently attended a staging of a classic Greek play.
Warrior Woman: Let me guess. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans?
Mature Woman: Ugh!
Warrior Woman: (shouting) Attention everyone, moratorium on setting Western canon plays in post-Katrina New Orleans!
Mature Woman: (throaty laugh) For true. So in this staging of the classic Greek play, the elderly men of Thrace are played by boys wearing dirty loin-clothes. Teenagers, who all dutifully grimaced their faces into the mask of Tragedy and bent their spines forward. You know, to indicate osteoporosis. Cuz old men totally get osteoporosis, right? Especially in ancient Thrace. Even old guy parts are played by kids, in old guy make-up!
Sexy Woman: Isn't that the sort of thing you do in college theater?
Warrior Woman: Well, they are kinda stuck in college theater mode.
Mature Woman: Shit. I make a more convincing old man!
Sexy Woman: (trying out the phrase for the first time) For true! Oh, I mean, it seems to me, we all have an equal shot at the part. Brand new to acting or well-seasoned. Formally trained or talented amateur. Whoever Mister Paris offers the Golden Apple to, he must be looking for something very specific and just hasn’t found her yet. I mean, 40 blonde actresses?
Mature Woman:I know. I feel like I’m auditioning for John Derek. (Other 2 women don’t know who she means) You have no idea.
They notice another actress exiting the theater.
Warrior Woman: Wow! She’s out already? That must have been the world’s shortest audition.
Mature Woman: Oh I know her. She’s Equity. Gets to audition early, before all the rest of us non-Equity losers. Look at that brave smile. She’ll be boo-hoo-ing in the parking lot.
Sexy Woman: Getting in early didn't seem to help her any, if that really was the world’s shortest audition.
Warrior Woman: Are you kidding? She barely had time to say “Good afternoon, Mister Paris. My name is—Thanks! We’ll let you know.”
Mature Woman: I could have been Equity. I had the points, a couple times over. But I figure, Equity’s great if you want to tour or work anyplace outside New Orleans. But as you get a little older, settle into life, fall into sync with the rhythms of New Orleans, touring loses its appeal. New York? L.A.? Why struggle to start again in a foreign place? New Orleans is home. Everything I need, I got right here. And for me, well, Equity limits my options.
Warrior Woman: I’m an Equity Candidate.
Mature Woman: Of course you are. (explaining to Sexy Woman) That means she gets 2 asterixes by her name in the program. And a footnote, “Appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association.”
Warrior Woman: I think Equity Candidate is the best of both possible worlds. You get access to Equity-only auditions. You get the asterixes and the footnote, which do confer a certain legitimacy. But you’re not restricted from working non-union jobs or have to use a stupid fake name. So I can do that sweetheart community theater project with those hipster kids from that grant-laden performance art group with the actor-driven development and rehearsal process.
Mature Woman: Oh sure, I saw some of their stuff at Fringe Festival. You could tell the process was actor-driven. Each of the actors was in their own play. It’s was like watching 6 or 7 different plays for the price of one admission.
Sexy Woman: THAT sounds like college theater.
Mature Woman: Me, I like a director with a single, unified vision. The ability to tell a story in multiple dimensions with control and…well, vision. Not too many of those around.
Warrior Woman: For true. There are plenty of directors who can do blocking. But they never get around to talking about character development, scene objectives and obstacles, plot points, beats, pacing, story arc. I have been directed lots. But I have met very few directors.
Sexy Woman: Is Mister Paris a visionary director?
Mature Woman and Warrior Woman consider it.
Mature Woman: Well, he likes to think so.
Sexy Woman: So if you don’t really admire the director, then why are you auditioning for him?
Mature Woman: I told you. I audition for everything. Well, everything I think I got a shot at. Lately I try to avoid the “mother” roles, but aim more for like “concerned lesbian neighbor.”
Warrior Woman: I tend to be a bit more selective. I audition only for plays that have some redeeming social value, moral implications. Projects that open up dialog. Or just because I want to work with certain other actors who are my friends or at a venue that’s new to me.
Mature Woman: Regardless, one play is not going to make-or-break an actress in New Orleans. What matters is a body of work. Theater is not one-play-at-a-time. Theater is a life.
Sexy Woman: Then how does a new actress build a life in theater, if there are so few juicy roles for women?
Warrior Woman: Unfortunately, sister-women do tend to wage war amongst ourselves over the few juicy roles out there. Petty jealousies, gossipy back-stabbing.
Mature Woman: Total bitches.
Warrior Woman: Instead, we should create more theater opportunities for women, ourselves. Write our own Golden Apples. Self-produce, direct, and attend for Goddess sake! We should push female perspectives onto stages and into the world.
Sexy Woman: Ok!
Mature Woman: So what are you working on…for the cause?
Warrior Woman: Currently, I am writing a collection of short performance pieces called the Regina Monologues.
Mature Woman: Darling, excuse me? Say that again.
Warrior Woman: Re-gi-na Monologues. First-person monologues from the point-of-view of Queen Elisabeth the first of England. Each monologue reflects her different moods, her shifting—even conflicting! —perspectives. So far my favorites are Angry Regina and…
Mature Woman: (interrupting) Oh crap, here comes Paris! Darling, I’d love to hear more—some other time—about your fascinating Regina project. Break legs with that, please.
Mature Woman and Warrior Woman both hold their headshots before them and smile. Seeing this, Sexy Woman (who has no headshot) presents her breasts more prominently and smiles, posing provocatively. Seeing that, the first 2 women consider for a beat, and then also present their breasts prominently and smile even harder as the director walks by.
3 Women in chorus: Good afternoon, Mister Paris!
Fade to black