Thoughts from the waiting room; or, Acting is Weird

Acting is the perfect idiot’s profession.

Katharine Hepburn

Nothing like a last-minute casting to brighten your day. And this one was really last minute: a call from the agent at 1.30pm for an audition at 3.30pm. Fortunately, I could take a late, long lunch-break for this audition for a non-speaking role in an ever-so-slightly-but-not-too-much-to-cause-outrage sexist television commercial.

I made it the casting waiting room, got the obligatory up-and-down from another woman possibly auditioning for the same, highly coveted role and waited and filled in the form that wants all my measurements in centimetres and thought (hopefully not out loud):

Acting is weird.

Although I’m not even sure this could be classified as acting. My success in getting this role seemed entirely based upon my ability to smile. Last week, it was based on my ability to look like a model but not too much like a model, like an approachable model, the girl-next-door-meets-Bond-Girl-type (if that’s even a type), and to keep it natural but not so natural that you lose those elements of looking like a model … I didn’t get that gig. Obviously.

But this gig … I can smile. I do it everyday.

I wasn’t nervous, just intrigued to see how on earth the casting director could actually direct a casting for this role.

There were a few auditions for different productions on in the casting offices that day. I watched nervous actors try desperately not to look nervous as they studied scripts and mouthed their lines and checked their watches. I watched mothers whispering encouragement or instructions or threats (or all three)  at their 3-year-old daughters as they fixed their piggy-tails and kept an eye on the casting director’s door. Your audition starts as soon as you enter the waiting room – another tip from another acting class.

I went to an audition for a ‘young mum’ role and was partnered up with a child for the casting. The casting director told me that she looked more like my sister than my daughter which I thought was pretty cool considering this kid was like 9. And a boy. No, no, she was definitely a girl. Now, I am absolutely old enough to have a 9-year-old daughter so I took it as a compliment that I didn’t get that gig – too young to be cast as a ‘young mum’ … Or, possibly, the 9-year old looked more like she was 17 and in that case … No, I’m sticking with my version of the story. Anyway, maybe when called on to audition for ‘young mum’ roles it is safer to ‘bring your own baby’ as I could see was happening in this waiting room.

But, for this audition it didn’t matter.

No children necessary.

I just had to smile.

And that’s exactly what I did about fifteen minutes later as I headed into the audition room.

Smiling and some miming.

They don’t really cover that at Drama School.

The casting director was very positive and said I was in with a very good chance for this one …

I didn’t get the gig.

I think I need to work on my smiling and miming.

Acting is weird.