On the day of the audition I was incredibly nervous, almost more nervous than I had been for any other audition because with other auditions, yes, I wanted to be in the play but it was one of those things where if I didn't get it, it would be okay. This play, though, I wanted it so badly. I loved the story and the characters, it was a part of my childhood, it became something that not only did I just want, I needed. My audition seemed to go quite well. I thought I did well with my monologue and I was pretty sure I had nailed the cold reading for the character I wanted. My only surprise was when they asked me to also read for another character, one that I hadn't even considered because this woman was so clearly out of my league and not remotely like me. I gave it my best shot though and left thinking, yeah, no way am I getting that part, and figuring that if I didn't get the character that I had auditioned for, I wasn't going to be in the show because to my mind, I didn't really fit with any of the other characters.
A rather nerve-wracking couple of days went by and I finally got the e-mail. My hand were shaking as I opened the document and started to read. My first reaction was ecstatic joy, I was in! My second reaction was, oh my goodness, you have got to be kidding. Because that second character I had read for, the one that was completely out of my league, that was the part I had gotten. Now let me tell you something about this woman and how she is in the book, she's a judge and to my mind she is regal, is strong, she commands respect, she is perceptive, and she is everything I am not. Seeing my name next to hers, I was terrified, I figured there must have been a mistake. They couldn't seriously want me, fat and unattractive, to play such an important character. But there was no mistake and I feared that this was a part that I simply wouldn't be able to bring to life. See every other character I've ever played, they were either evil or I could identify with them to some degree. Playing evil is easy, its fun, you get to act like someone completely opposite from the way you are. And maybe that's why its easy, why its not so intimidating, because you're playing someone that you are never going to be or at least that you don't want to be. And playing someone you're similar to or at least can identify with is much easier because you can understand how their mind works and how they feel and react.
So walking up to my director's house for the read-through, I was a mess. Not feeling comfortable with the character was part of it, but the other part was that I barely knew anyone in the cast. There were only two people who I'd ever had any real interaction with and the rest were complete strangers, though I'd heard their names before. Once everyone had arrived, my worst fears were confirmed, I was the fat girl among a bunch of very skinny people. I was literally the elephant in the room. Reading through the play didn't help my confidence much. While I thought the play was done quite well, despite leaving out certain characters and aspects of the book that I liked, I felt even more nervous about the part as I was again reminded of how smart and perceptive the judge was and how much respect she commanded.
As rehearsals started the following week, I also found how badly I fit in with the rest of the cast. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am ridiculously shy when I'm in a crowd of people I don't know. I slink off to the corner and quietly sit there unnoticed. It wasn't that any of them were mean or rude or anything, they all seemed for the most part to be very nice people, but most of them already knew each other. And I was so nervous and shy, so busy trying to shrink inside myself and not be noticed because I was so ashamed, that I made very little effort to try to talk with them. By the time I realized that maybe I was being silly and should try fitting in and talking to some people, it was a bit late and most of them had meshed together and were friends. I can only blame myself for not being more confident initially and taking a risk that maybe they wouldn't treat me like I was something you would find at the bottom of the garbage can.
As the weeks went by and I continued to struggle to get into my character, I finally made myself stop and think. I couldn't keep fighting this, couldn't keep bringing myself down by constantly thinking about how inadequate I was to play this character, I was either going to have to drop out of the play or find a way to come to terms. As dropping out was not even an option to my mind, I was left with finding a way to come to terms with everything. So I had a very serious talk with myself that basically ended up as me lecturing me which was weird but effective. Essentially, I told myself that if I wanted to act professionally, then I had to realize that there were going to be times that I wasn't going to get the part that I wanted, that I had auditioned for, and maybe the mark of a true actor was taking whatever roll I did get and bringing it to life and completely owning it. So maybe I didn't exactly fit the image of the judge in the book or even really in the play, maybe I wasn't anything like her, maybe I was going to have to actually work hard at this role to make it come to life. And I could do that, I was going to put my heart and soul into this character, I was going to bring her to life.
And once I came to terms with all this, I discovered something. While I was the person standing in the corner during the scenes I wasn't on stage, not really talking or making eye contact with anyone, feeling uncomfortable just being me, when I got on "stage", I was the judge. I could talk to people, having little conversations in character while other things were going on, I didn't think about how out of place I must look being the big person, I didn't have to constantly be thinking about how the judge would stand or act, it just came more naturally, and I didn't feel like an outsider. I felt confident and I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
So as we continue to prepare for opening night this Friday, I keep finding myself more and more amazed at how awesome this show really is and also how blessed I am to be acting with such a talented cast and I find it hard to believe that I considered even for a second dropping out. The excitement that I had before the audition has come back in full force. And while I'm sad that this will likely be my last performance with this theatre group, I'm fairly certain its going to end with a bang!