Did I make a fool of myself? Why, yes. Yes, I did.
It started with a warm-up, in which we sang (with harmony) the beginning of "Sit Down, John" and I missed most of my cues though no one was paying much attention. Then we all went outside and waited for our turns.
As I waited I went over my song a tiny bit, but I didn't feel I really needed to. After all, I'd been repeating it over and over and over in my head on the bus to Jerusalem. Even if I had been messing it all up in my head on that bus ride, I'd been reciting it so many times that in the moment I'd know what to do.
"What will you be singing?"
"Something I composed today."
"Well, this morning."
And then I started begging that they let me sing from the notes, rather than from memory. I couldn't do it from memory. (I do think "begging" rather than "asking" is the right word- no dignity was involved.) The casting director was strongly against it, so I started singing.
You can fill in the rest with your imagination, and chances are it'll be more or less how it went.
They stopped me before I got to the second verse, which I put there for the sake of contrast and showing off my range. That's the "confident" part of the song, as opposed to the beginning and ending which are hopeless and a little scared and maybe not all that distinguishable to a bad singer singing badly for an audition.
"Sorry.", I blabbered, "I only composed it today. It's still fresh in my head. If I could have followed the notes…"
"Thank you. Do you have another song?"
"Well, there's another piece here I've got the accompaniment for," -I pulled out the page of "The Balladier's Warning" piano music which I'd printed out as a backup plan- "but I didn't think it was so appropriate."
I handed the page to the music director, who then proceeded to play it better than I do. And I sang along, which took no effort at all. I composed it months ago, music for a poem that Tamir's friend Eva had. And it's had all that time for her words and my music to bounce around in my head, so that pulling it out is effortless at this point. I hadn't practiced it so much. And yet I think I sang it well. That might just have been me hearing what I wanted to hear, but usually when I sing it I feel like I'm pretending to sing, and I actually felt like I was singing that time.
As I said, it could just be my state of mind at the time, and maybe it was as wretchedly bad as I expected "The Balladier's Warning" to be if I sang it at an audition. I honestly don't know.
They gave me a script for Jefferson, and told me to wait outside. At first I resolved not to disrespect anyone else's singing, since that would put me in a position of weakness. But then I heard one or two people who were obviously terrible (I can't say objectively whether they were worse than me.), and I laughed. It made me feel, for a moment, like I hadn't done an awful job. Though of course I had.
After everyone had done the singing, people started getting pulled in for line readings. I'd been going over the lines over and over in my head, picturing how the guy who played Jefferson in the John Adams miniseries would have read the lines. Very quiet, but maybe getting more agitated and even ever-so-slightly charismatic when justifying his position.
Anyway, I was called in. I asked, "Who am I playing against?", which I thought was a perfectly obvious question. And one of them said something along the lines of: "I like how you're already taking an antagonistic attitude toward your colleague." Honestly, I might be getting that quote very wrong- I didn't understand the intention behind the statement. Anyway.
I started while under-acting, and as soon as the words left my mouth I could tell that I wasn't acting like that actor on TV, just acting like I was afraid to act. But what the hey, that's pretty close to what I was going for, right? I was interrupted before I could reach my intended crescendo into outspoken-ness, as the script seemed to be indicating should build and build and then suddenly crash back down into mumbly-ness. I was told to start back from the beginning, but with more confidence. "But wasn't Jefferson a quiet man?" "Maybe the real Jefferson. I want you to play him confidently. Take a step back, put your legs apart a little, hold up your chest."
I tried again. Giving him a little more confidence seemed to take it too close to my ordinary speech, but that was what I was told and I didn't know how else to play it. I could feel myself slipping back into quietness as I went along, though it wasn't really my intention- my idea of who Jefferson should be was getting in the way of playing the part I was supposed to play. Which would be more reasonable if I were a good enough actor to get my idea of who Jefferson should be across, which I'm guessing I'm not.
And then I left.
So, not nearly as bad as the last time I auditioned for something. But also not something I can walk away from with self-respect. Blah.
I think I have a chance of getting in- there were very few people there, and I think there are a lot of roles. So they'll sort of have to bring in a few guys of my level just to round out the chorus.