Clearly, there is much to learn about dialog and subtext. Tonight, I attended the first night of two nights of auditions for Twelve Angry Men, to be produced in March. Fourteen men heard the call and sat like contestants on the stage at the Grand Haven Middle School. At first, I was nonchalant. I was there to hear a text hit the air as human language. The experience hit my consciousness like so much hot rock on a crack pipe.
All the warhorses from the three big stages had shown up: the Howmet, the Frauenthal and Central Park Players. Although I had no reason to expect to match their craft, I wanted to roar like Whitman and Emerson in the pines. Most of my friends might not know that I passed the Winter and Spring of 2005, a decade ago, studying voice acting in San Francisco, enrolled in the Day Conservatory of Voice One, studying with Elaine Clark. I had some game, rusty game. To use a phrase from Clark's book, "There's Money Where Your Mouth Is", I had some conscious competence and unconscious competence. And yards and yards of pure greenhorn incompetence that lurked inside, ready to trip me up.
So I used what I had and put myself at the mercy of the text, as its servant and student. When ten men read the same monologue before me, I let those words enter my attentive ears and dance on my tongue. I read, sight reading, but hoping to find the rhythm the playwright had left there in the middle of the last century. I even rolled up my sleeves to help me get into character as one of the racist characters and imagined the marching scene from the Selma trailer.
Did I make the play? Callbacks go out Tuesday for Wednesday night. Did the playwright's words engulf me. Yes, and I am grateful to swim in the subtext of Twelve Angry Men even though human voices will wake me and I will drown. Perhaps I won't make the cast. If not, I'll be taking my supporting role as audience member.
UPDATE: I was not cast!