I rarely get insomnia. I’m one of those people that insomniacs loathe. I lay my head down on the pillow and within minutes—nee seconds—I’m out like a light. I sleep the sleep of the dead and I jump out of bed in the morning with sunshine bursting from the crack of my ass. Even if I get awakened at night—my son has an asthma attack, the cat paws at my face because he ran out of food, the dog needs walking at 2 a.m.—I am able to return to bed, find the cool side of the pillow, and I’m gone.
Tonight? Not so. It’s 2:34 a.m. I’ve been up since 1:15 or so. You see, I had been eagerly awaiting a call from the stage manager for the production I auditioned for tonight: To Kill a Mockingbird. I was there for 3 long hours. I read quite a bit. I said I wanted to read for Miss Maudie or for the narrative part of Jean Louise Finch. I also was asked to read for Miss Stephanie. [a pause. my son is coughing in his bed. I decide to wait it out before investigating.] We were told that phone calls would go out late tonight (or last night, as it were) for call backs. When I awoke from a dream, my head filled with lyrics from REM (the same two lines echoing over and over again), I realized it was far too late and I didn’t get my call.
I stewed. I replayed my audition over and over in my head. I wondered what was so wrong with me that I couldn’t get a part in this town? This is my third audition in as many months. My first was that of Ethel Banks, Corrie Bratter’s mother in Barefoot in the Park. I got an enthusiastic call back and my second audition went well. I was told I was not the right physical part (at 45, I look more like 35 and with my nose ring and a bent toward what some in the South may consider eccentric clothing, I’m not exactly a director’s idea of an ensemble cast member — I seem to resemble an overweight, slightly aging Kim Novak with ink and piercings).
My second audition was fairly dismal. I thought I’d done a good job and those who heard me from the wings said my read was well done. Sadly, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, is heavy on the testosterone and light on the parts for women. I’m too old for the ingenue, too (what…glamorous?) for the cook, and I wasn’t going up against my partner’s mother for the juicy Bible thumping role.
To Kill a Mockingbird has a named cast of at least 20. There are a dearth of parts for women but all is not lost. I had a good feeling about this. Waking at the wee hours of the morning and finding that the phone hadn’t rung sent me into a tailspin of self-doubt. I tossed and turned and woke Li to bitch and moan and generally rake myself over the glowing embers of the coals I had laid out before me. I got up for tylenol to nurse my aching head and checked my email.
Somehow, I had given them the wrong phone number. My presence has been requested at the call back at 7 pm this evening. I felt vindication mingled with embarrassment and a healthy dose of humiliation at whatever loss of brain cells lead me to leave a wrong number on my call card. This acting thing has been a longstanding dream of mine. I enjoy it but have no real experience in it. I dabbled in the chorus in high school, and I directed a dramatic reading of The Dining Room at a church production once—eliciting gasps from the elderly ladies in the audience when I said “shit” onstage while playing a young, disillusioned teenager.
Post-child, I didn’t have the time. Post divorce, I didn’t have the energy. Now, with a strong support system and an older son who encourages my theatre dreams, I’m ready to get out there and break a leg or two. It’s my time to shine and I am convinced that someone will see potential. There are wigs to cover the blonde hair, my nose ring is removable, my ink is well-concealed, and my personality is quite adaptable. I can do the quiet, supportive Miss Maudie. I can pull off the brash, gossipy, thick as cold grits Southern accent of Miss Stephanie. I can be that soft-spoken introspective memory of Jean Louise Finch.
And someday? Someday…I can be a star.