Etiquette - not just about which fork to use at the dinner table (stock image courtesy of Microsoft Office Images)
Ah, the audition waiting room. Most actors I come across in these typically nondescript places of opportunity are, like me, in the "zone." It's that special place of psychic and emotional absorption where we ready ourselves to show a director, playwright, producer or casting director how utterly right we are for the role. Yes, we swipe the subway smut from our brows and with intense concentration, go through our sides that one last time.
Or we try to.
Invariably, a few souls stray from this private ritual, failing to observe an unspoken commandment of the audition waiting room: thou shalt not disturb thy fellow actors.
Manners guru Emily Post would say they lack a sense of etiquette - no, that's not just about which fork to use at the dinner table - it's simply about being considerate and respectful. Do they realize this? Or are they purposely sabotaging other actors? I like to think the best of people, so I'm going to assume a degree of cluelessness. But having been derailed a few times by distractions, this week I dedicate my blog to some of the characters I've met in waiting rooms. If you recognize yourself in one of these character "break downs," for once that's not a good thing. Time to shape up!
The Lurker: Have you ever noticed that person who, once finished with their audition, just kinda hangs around? What's the point? To see if somebody was in the room for 10 seconds longer? To see if they come out smiling or frowning? To hear a tidbit of gossip or a rumor that in all likelihood has no relevance to anything? Give yourself a break and move on!
The Warmer-Upper: OK, I get we all have pre-audition ritual. But it's extremely distracting to see roll downs and "salutes to the gods" in my peripheral vision, or hear you rehearsing lines in full bravado, or watch your facial warm ups using the words pruuune, bananaaaa (ok, that exercise is actually one of my personal favs. Try it…but at home, please!)? If these routines are critical to your "nailing it," kindly go around the corner. Thanks!
The Talker: "I became a vegan - and it changed my life. Oh-my-god, I mean look at me." Blah, blah, blah. I've been trying to figure you talkers out for some time now. Are you in my ear because you want to be my friend? To work out your nervousness? To throw me off before I go into an audition (sorry, that's the cynic in me)? Look, I'd love to be your friend and have a really deep talk about your cat. (Seriously, I actually would. Hit me up after the audition and we'll discuss our love of felines.) Hey, maybe we'll both be cast and we can become besties!
The Rehearser: The idea of rehearsing lines out loud next to someone going in for the same role is a bit mortifying to me. First of all, what if what you're doing is pure gold? Do you want someone to steal it? Second, is this last-minute, public rehearsal really going to help you get the part? Probably not. If you've done your homework, you shouldn't have to be rehearsing up until the second you go into the room. Quietly reviewing your lines is fine; then go into the audition calmly with confidence. Your fellow actors will appreciate being spared your public ritual!
The Question Asker: This person may disguise him/herself as "the talker," but don't be fooled. The main point in talking to you is to figure out HOW YOU GOT THERE. What part are you going in for? How did you find out about this? Do we have the same sides? Can I look at your sides? Have you read the script? My goodness, you are a curious person. Again, what purpose does this serve? Nada. I'm all about giving someone a helping hand, but not when I'm about to go in for the audition. I need my sides to myself!
If, dear reader, you recognized yourself in one or more of the characters above - congrats! Self-awareness is a required step toward "waiting room etiquette."