“My King and I”

Sitting through hours of “King & I” auditions, carefully watching every flinch and then transcribing my thoughts regarding their worth in a useful way so that the director can decipher my thoughts…is, quite frankly, exhausting. And this coming from a dude who would spend nearly every waking moment plotting, planning and executing live theatre.

One of the responsibilites as a board member for Signature Productions here in town is to support the effforts of the directors and staff during the audition process. Now I’m not the creative team for this one…but I did anticipate a little bit of paper shuffle in the process. I was shocked when they wanted me to sit in on auditions and evaluate with them. They didn’t have to ask me twice, and I took off my “helper” hat and popped my “director” cap on. (I put it on backwards….rally cap, I know, but I’m not directing, just offering my thoughts to the director. I thought it would be rude to actually wear my director’s cap in he usual fashion.)

Things went very well for the most part. Two of my students auditioned and I couldn’t be MORE PROUD of them if I tried. (I see them growing in front of my eyes…in height and talent.) In both of them I saw “something wonderful.”

Tonight was callbacks…which are always filled with jitters, anticipation, hopeful energy and excitement. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly actors turn into sharks when you dial up the pressure! Sheesh. But, overall they were an impressive group and I was glad to position the camcorder at them.

During my drive home, I was indeed “whistling a happy tune”…but I was also thinking about how stiff my neck was in relation to the audition process in general. How this one might differ from ones I might conduct…or in relation to Broadway turn-outs.

Those hopefuls, so full of excitement and nervous energy, standing in front of us…all they want is a chance. The glow of the spotlight is very cozy, and whatever life-altering ting brought them to the theatre that day to shed their outer skin and expose their raw talent to a table full of strangers, is enough to give anyone a stiff neck. I read somewhere that there is a constant 80% unemployment rate for working actors. Hm. Why do it, then? Why work so hard for a moment SO brief…all of which is at the mercy of the director’s subjective mind. Why do it? I can only think of one answer….because you love to perform. You love the CHANCE to find yourself in a position to challenge yourself to create something you didn’t think you could.

I’m working toward my next audition right now. It’s really hard to get up every day and force myself to do what it takes to prepare myself to the point that will boost me OVER the top and make myself a stand-out in the director’s eyes. But, I like the challenge…and I look forward to the audition. And I’ll kill it!

And if I don’t….that’ll give me something ELSE to look froward to. The evaluation…the re-group….the preparation….and the next audition…..where I’ll kill it!

What if you had to audition to be a Christian? Wouldn’t that make things interesting? I wouldn’t imagine God would want to be put in the same category as Simon Cowell…but suppose in order to deem yourself a Christian man or women, you had to “audition” in front of the one who was ultimately “in charge.” All of a sudden that would put a different spin on things, hmmm? People who would TRULY want to consider themselves a Christian would be doing homework, and stretching spiritual muscles that haven’t been used in a long time. Or, maybe they wouldn’t and say, “well…I’ll wait until the next audition. Besides, I don’t know what He’s looking for.”

I wonder what life would be like if Christians were as unbridled as an industry performer. Those performers who REALLY REALLY work hard to just get that opportunity to create. They’d have to prepare….strengthen themselves….study and work hard…and then when the pressure’s on and they were faced with adversity….spread the word of the Gospel. They may win they’re audience over….or maybe not. But, even then, that’ll give them something ELSE to look forward to. Apples and oranges? Maybe not.

Have you ever found yourself trying to make an impression on God? Trying to win him over with a good work, or feverish Bible study…or voluenteering at your church for everything under the sun? Have you found yourself patting yourself on the back? Are you sure that’s what God wants you to do?

I’d say 80% of being an actor is the preparation. What goes on before and after you step onstage. It’s hard work…thankless….and sometimes, unrewarding. But, you do it because you believe in the work, and you want to get better so that you can do more work. You want to create.

Shouldn’t that be the goal of our walks with Christ? Shouldn’t we strive to create clean hearts not only within ourselves…but in others as well?

As someone who wants to spread the word of God…I would hope nobody would perceive me as being “unemployed,” simply because I’m not sitting in a pew at church.

I suppose it’s wishful thinking to think that all the people I jotted down on my mental “who I would cast” list will make it into “The King and I.” But, who knows. I can say that some of them truly won me over! There was sparkle…there were golden moments….there was talent….”etcetra, etcetra, etcetra.” I’ll be honest, and say that I was living a little vicariously through them.

Acting is fun because if you use the talents God gave you to glorify him…always…then it’s a double whammy. You’re doing something you love…and you’re doing something He loves.

So, I’ll wait for that cast list to be posted to see if my prediction are true and I’ll continue to prepare for my next audition as well. And while I would never consider myself “unemployed” right now…I will say that I’m looking forward to the next audition…and I’m preparing and praying so that I may look good in the director’s eye….but mostly in my King’s eye.

Congrats to everyone who auditioned.

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2 Responses to ““My King and I””

  1. You wrote of living a bit vicariously through the actors you saw auditioning. In a strange way that is the reverse of what happens with God and us. While we are the ‘actor’ that everyone sees, God is the Director who lives in and through us. We vicariously live His presence in the world that He created and that He continues to create around and in us. When I’m the one trying to act to please the audience or even the Director, I mumble and stumble and fall flat on my face. The few moments when “I” shine, it really is because God has taken hold and is shining through me. So, I can act like a Christian, or I can let God renew His creative life in me.

  2. john wennstrom Says:

    You got me thinking, again, Eric.

    Lutherans often point out we are saved by God’s grace.

    The Lord has ALREADY cast us, and we’re all in this production (whether we like it or not.) There is nothing we can do get out of His play – it does not even end when we biologically peter out!

    Not only that, although he has given us a basic script, we actually get to write almost all of our own dialogue, mostly improv.

    While He get sets designer credit, we’re on the crew, and our actions can effect the set now and for generations to come.

    Maybe 80% of an actor’s TIME can productively be spent in preparation, but I’m not sure “80% of being an actor is the preparation.”

    I’m more inclined to think that 80% of being an actor is listening and REacting. What ultimately makes us successful is not the internal work we do studying and planning, but rather on how this effort helps us relate to and support and love others–the other actors, the other script writers, the other techs, and how we listen to and react to and support and love our ultimate Director.

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