Saturday, September 28, 2013
A Little Elation Now and Then Never Hurt...
So I had my Agent Showcase today... but before I go into that, let me tell you the strange twists in the road that occurred between the last time we spoke and today...
So I had my Leonidas monologue ready, but I still agonized over whether I could find the right "levels" in it to make my acting coach happy -- he said the previous week that he felt it was too one-note, and needed some more high points and low points, to exhibit better range. We need to show the agent a range of skill, so to speak.
But the piece doesn't really lend itself to highs and lows, like a locker-room speech. To stay true to the piece, I needed to delivery it with steady, subdued strength and purpose. So I practiced it like crazy.
But to hedge my bets, I grabbed a second, similar monologue, also from a Steven Pressfield book... this time from Virtues or War, where Alexander the Great scolds his men after a battle because they looted and pillaged, which he expressly forbade. It is a terrific piece as well, and lends itself well to the highs and lows that my coach said he was looking for. I sent him the text for both monologues attached to an email, but he never replied.
So armed with two powerful (I felt) monologues, I went to class Thursday night. Now, keep in mind, this is about 36 hours before the showcase was supposed to take place. By this time, we were to have worked on polishing a monologue for several weeks, so that it shone. Ready to display our best efforts.
Well, surprise! Thursday night before class started, he calls me into his office and tells me I need to scrap both of those monologues and pick a new one to do. He said I really shouldn't be doing period pieces for a showcase. Apparently, mentioning the Greek gods by name dated the piece. And besides, he said, "You don't really look the part in either case." I don't look like a Leonidas or an Alexander, lol... ok... Anyways, he said I needed something more modern. Now, why he couldn't have told me this a few weeks ago I don't know... but bottom line, he said I needed a new one.
Remember the "36 hours to showcase" detail from above, right?
Anyway, he suggested a monologue from Dead Poet's Society (which I had never seen), saying it was the monologue he performed back in the day, when he got his first agent. Obviously, my first incredulous question was, "You really think I could get a brand new monologue showcase-ready in 36 hours?" He said yes.
What could I do? I went home with a new monologue and one day to prepare.
Part of me wanted to give up. The other part of me thought, "Hey, if you're going to try to be a pro at this acting thing, you're going to need to deal with crap like this all the time. Suck it up and just do it." So that's what I did. In between bouts of panic, I memorized the new monologue, and then set about trying to work it into me deeply enough to give it some life. The last thing I wanted to do was bring a half-baked piece to a showcase... keep in mind that there are two major agencies in San Diego, and the founder of one of these two powerhouses was the agent in attendance at the showcase today. If it was a smaller agency, I would have felt infinitely better... but this was a big deal. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression...
So I learned it, performed it for my family Friday night, and they were underwhelmed. They liked my other pieces far better. I slinked into my office, closed the door, and contemplated giving up again. Instead, I fired up my iMac, pointed it at the center of the room, and video-recorded myself doing the piece. Yeah, it was a mess. I made adjustments, filmed it again, and the results improved, but still a mess. After 6 or 7 more tweakings and filmings, I had a version that I thought worked. I went to bed early.
Woke up today (Saturday), ran through it a couple times, packed up my headshot and resume, and went to the showcase.
I went early; it started late. The waiting was agony. It didn't help that the classmate beside me was having a legitimate, full-blown panic attack, and freaking out. I was unnerved to begin with, but I tried my best to calm both of us down. There were about 36 people therewaiting to perform. The agent showed up, gave a short speech, took a few questions, and then we were off and running.
The kids went first, about 10 of them. Not bad, for kids. Some overly-rehearsed efforts, some humor; they all got through them well enough and were excused. They needed to leave, because many of the older performers had pieces with profanity or adult talk in them. I was slated to go 8th. As I waited and watched those before me, I prayed. I would cycle through stretches of confidence, and stretches of panic, heart beating in my throat, etc. All my lines would flee from me as I sat in panic... I eyed the door. But I remained seated, I'd take breaths, pray, and remind myself that I'd been on stage several dozen times in plays, often in very substantial parts, and *always* got through it just fine.
My turn arrived, I stood, gave my headshot to the agent, introduced myself, walked up... and killed it. I mean, I nailed it. It felt SOOO amazing, I can't even begin to explain it. It was right there, every line, like a conveyor belt. I didn't have to worry about what came next at all... I could focus on feeling it. And I can't tell you in words the way it felt when I sat back down to applause and the congratulatory looks from my classmates, who'd never seen that piece from me before.
I can easily say, today was one of the highlights of my "career" so far, going all the way back to high school. I felt like a pro.
Whether I'll get a call this week to go talk to the agent 1-on-1 or not, I don't know. It may happen, it may not. There are a lot of variables. Perhaps they already have a few actors in their stable with my same look and/or talent level... wouldn't make sense to add yet another. But if they have room for someone like me, I can't imagine I could have done any better at presenting myself than I did today.
I feel so good right now, it isn't even funny.
Anyway, I'll have a more traditional "Dave" post here in a day or two. Just wanted to hop on here and get all this out.
Adios for now,
Dave the Elated
PS By the way, the classmate having the panic attack beside me... he did great as well...
PSS Of course, by saying I "killed/nailed" it, I mean it felt like I nailed it. I've learned that how something feels when you perform it often doesn't correspond to how things actually look to someone watching it. It could feel great, but be mediocre.