Monday, March 5, 2012

Tension and Release

Today's blog has nothing to do with the kind of tension and release I normally talk about. It's a common topic in dancing, especially Lindy Hop, when we talk about a lot of dynamic stretch and release in the swing out (the basic step) and the rest of the dance.

No, the tension I'm talking about here is the good ol' fashioned heart-in-throat tension that you feel when something really important and decisive is going on.

Some time ago, my closest friend over here, Jana, informed me that she had an audition at the Mannheim Theater Akademie, and wanted me to help her. I of course agreed, and we set about figuring out what to do. We looked through some possibilities, and she selected her monologues and we got to work. I didn't really get involved until closer to the end of the process, after she had the monologues memorized and was ready to start working more stylistically, though we talked about the identities of her characters early on as well.

One of the characters she chose was Phebe from As You Like It, a play I was just in last February, and really love. Thankfully, I learned a lot from my experience with the show, and from my director about playing Shakespeare, and was able to give her a lot of helpful feedback on her Phebe. She had a great grasp of the character, and by the time the audition rolled around, I felt it was her strongest monologue.

I went with her to the audition on Friday, which turned out to be about a 6 1/2 hour ordeal, and involved quite a bit of nerves. The aspiring actors were put together for a movement warmup/audition, then split up to sing and then to give their monologues, one at a time. After the first monologue, Jana emerged looking less than optimistic. The auditioners had interrupted her, something she was not used to, and gave her direction. She had taken that as a sign that her monologue was unsatisfactory, but I assured her it was normal, and that they were also looking for potential and how well the actors took direction, not just a polished performance. I also assured her that she would wow them with Phebe, and yelled "Knock 'em dead!" as she went off to deliver Phebe. She came back looking very happy, and told me that though they'd interrupted her again (as they had everyone else), they had also all been laughing as she continued with the monologue, in all the right places.

I could not have been nearly as nervous as she was when she went back to hear the final decision and to get feedback from the auditioners, but my heart was trying its level best. I was really on edge, and thought I heard her laugh from the room they were in, and eventually she came out with a smile on her face, but was then ushered into another room before I could find out what the deal was (though the smile was promising). Finally she came out and I said, "Well??" She odded her head, and ran towards me, and we both geeked out a little bit. She went to call her parents, and attempted to trick them by saying she had big news in a somber voice, but couldn't pull it off on account of being too excited. We celebrated with her parents and had a great night, hearing all about it.

I mostly share this with all of you because I am very proud of her, and very proud of the work that she did. But it's also to remember that even though my job here is teaching, sometimes you find yourself being apart of something really special that you'd have never expected.

Congratulations, Jana!


  1. Wow, you really are excited! Congrats! I'm so glad that Jana "odder" her head at you :P

  2. Whoops. Didn't catch that one. Fixed now!