Actors, like athletes, can be a superstitious set. It comes from feeling like there’s a certain element of luck to any success you enjoy in those fields. So many pieces have to fall into place for a positive outcome that it’s tempting to think those pieces involve aligning planets. (You work hard of course, but what harm could it do to kiss the support beam before you go on stage? You’ve done it the last three nights and haven’t forgotten a line yet).
I consider my own superstitions tempered with levelheadedness. I don’t say Macbeth inside of theatre venues, but I’ll say it other places (or…er…write it down). I don’t carry rabbits feet to auditions, but I also don’t touch pennies that are tails-up. And I don’t have any special “lucky audition outfit.” However, I do put a lot of thought (and, as it turns out, a lot of stock) into what I wear to an audition.
So I found the situation I was in at my last audition to be very distressing indeed.
I’d chosen my outfit the night before. The play was a 1930s high society piece and I wanted to imply that without going full-out costume, so I chose a prim dress with an ascot flounce and embroidery on the front, that I usually reserve for funerals (how’s that for luck?). This was a pre-baby garment, so I tried it on the night before to make sure it fit–it was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to zip it by myself.
But when it was time to get ready for the real thing, I asked P to assist with zipping, just to save myself the trouble. He was in the middle of making dinner and was a little short on time and patience. He heaved at the side zipper for a bit, but it got stuck around the bust area. He was already making noise like this was never going to work out. But I had to wear this perfect dress, and I’d just had it zipped the night before, and I hadn’t even eaten anything for six hours so I knew it oughta zip, dammit! So he tugged and pulled and then—
Riiiiip. A tiny tear appeared next to the zipper in the vicinity of my waist. Did I mention that this is an Anthropologie dress, one which I emotionally bought at full price in the throes of grief after my grandfather died, and one of the only brand-new, nice-store clothing items I own? Well it was.
I told him to stop and just take it off. I was already thinking, What else could I wear? Nothing was right! No other item of clothing in my entire wardrobe went with the perfect vintage shoes I’d chosen!
So he started to tug, in the other direction this time. He’s getting real flustered now, and my skin is getting pinched, and having to hold my arm up high is causing my chest to expand, making it even more difficult, when–
POP. The zipper pull comes off.
Some people might have found humor in this situation, but P and I are
Now, with no way to get the zipper either up or down, and the small tear getting bigger and bigger with all the maneuvering, I saw there was no choice but to cut it off my fluffy-ass body. So I tearfully (yup, makeup’s getting messed up now too) ask P to go get the scissors. Then he comes back with — get this — giant pliers. So he wrenches up under my tender arm skin for a while–the tear gets bigger, so do the tears–then finally comes back with the kitchen shears and cuts the thing off me.
I’m free. And my beautiful and perfectly suited audition dress is ruined.
By this time my mom had arrived for babysitting duty and I was able to romp down the lane of childhood memories (me upset and whining, mom valiantly helping me sort it out). She helped me assemble an outfit that was vastly inferior in my view, but would have to do under the circumstances. The circumstances being it was two minutes after I was supposed to leave.
This all seemed like a very bad sign.
By the time I got to the audition I had calmed down. (My hair, at least, was still pretty amazing). I managed to turn the whole affair into a mildly humorous story to tell my acquaintance. I concentrated on acting for a while (imagine!) and gave the best audition I could.
And you guys? I got the part. I’m heading to the third blocking rehearsal tonight. Whatever the elements, physical or metaphysical, they worked out alright for me that night. Turns out my being cast in the role (over other actors that doubtlessly read just as well) was due in no small part to my extensive dance training. I’m talking about a factor that I worked for years to put on my resume for sure, but that had not even crossed my mind for this straight play, something that no one was asked to demonstrate and was not listed in the character breakdown. It was due to the concept the director had for the show and a sentence written on a piece of paper. It was due in almost no part, I’m sure, to my attire.
Oh, and get this–it’s being set in the 1980s instead of the 1930s.
Moral of the story is: don’t psych yourself out, whether it’s an audition, an interview, or a first date. And I hope you have a good laugh at my expense.
(P.S. Speaking of dressing up, I made a few tweaks to the site appearance. What do you think?)