Unsupportive Parents, Overused Monologues

Unsupportive Parents, Overused Monologues Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice seekers. This week's column addresses the issues of auditioning with a "popular" monologue, provides information on the actor's union, AEA, and offers some helpful tips to young actors from working NYC actresses. I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice seekers. This week's column addresses the issues of auditioning with a "popular" monologue, provides information on the actor's union, AEA, and offers some helpful tips to young actors from working NYC actresses. I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Question
Hi Blair,
I have got a few questions that are driving me crazy. I plan on attending one of the combined auditions in the next few months. I have found the perfect Shakespearean monologue, unfortunately its a very popular monologue from A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's one of the pieces that the 1996/97 Regional Theatre Directory suggests that auditioners should avoid. But I feel that it's one of my strongest pieces. Should I do it or find another monologue? If I were to use this monologue, could I use it as my "serious" monologue, even though the play is a comedy?
Thanks in advance.
Sherria

Hi Sherria,
Thanks for asking. :>. To answer your first question: definitely go for it. If you have a monologue that you really trust yourself in, you really feel connected to and you love--do it. If a specific audition tells you NOT to do the monologue, then it's probably smarter to avoid it. But when it's a general warning from a source other than the people you are auditioning for--I say-- better to do a monologue that you love and perform really well, than do a monologue you don't love as much half as well.

Now, my question to you is, since it is such a famous text, do you think it's a good idea to take it out of context?

Chances are that if you do a piece that people know and have seen again and again, if you change the meaning it has within the circumstances of the play, people may misinterpret your ability to make appropriate choices. There is also the possibility that your reading will be so good that people will find it refreshing. But it's risky.

With monologues that are less well known, or even slightly popular, it is safer to take the speech out of the context of the play.

I'm glad you're auditioning. Good luck on your auditions, Sherria!

Question
My question for is you is about Actors' Equity. Many auditions give preference to members of this group, so I'm wondering how one would go about becoming a member. I realize that you must have some theater experience to begin with to be eligible, but who do you contact to join once you have that experience?
Thanks so much,
Amy

Hey Amy,
Thanks for your question about the Actors' union, Actors' Equity Association (AEA). I wanted to post your question because it has been a while since the AEA question was asked. For all the information you need about how to become a member of AEA, and who to contact, please refer to the second column of Ask Blair, dated Sept. 20- 26. More questions about Equity contracts are found in the Oct.11-17 column.

Question
I am only 18 years old and in love with the theatre. I've been acting for six years now, and I consider myself quite talented. I love it! Every time I am performing, I think to myself, "This is soooooo much fun! I love doing this! I want to do this for a living."
My parents think that acting is a bad career choice. I want to go to NY for college, but my parents want me do something else. They want me to be a doctor or lawyer or something, and go to a school closer to home ( which is KY ). I am so confused. This is what I really want to do, and I know I will only be happy if I can remain involved in drama. What percentage of actors fail? What are the best schools for what I want to do that are fairly close to KY?
Allison

Dear Allison,
Thanks so much for your question.

I want to begin to answer with a quote from a working actress in New York City. Myriam Cyr, who starred in several off-Broadway productions, including Julie Taymor's The Green Bird, in her advice to young aspiring actors, said:

"Never Avoid the Difficult."

The situation you are in is most definitely difficult. But I always bring everything back to the art, and encourage you to look at it as a great opportunity to taste struggle and know it is something you will triumph through.

I assume you have already tried, but just in case, please talk gently with your parents and explain to them about your heartfelt desire to perform. The way in which they are loving you and caring deeply about your future makes it hard to remember it's love. Show them that you understand their concerns. Try to convince them that you trust yourself to take care of yourself, and that you won't be happy following only their dreams for you.

Anyway, you're in luck, because the Actors' Theatre of Louisville has one of the greatest reputations in the country. I believe they have acting classes and workshops. Please read the first question in the Nov. 1 Ask Blair column on how to proceed (available from the side bar or from the button at the bottom of the column on the website). Margaret has a predicament similar to yours. .Please also refer to the Playbill On-Line college database for info on good theatre schools. I do not know any offhand in Kentucky.

Allison, I don't believe in following percentages--when you're doing what you love, they seem highly irrelevant. As you said--it's what you love to do. When I asked Calista Flockheart, young star of Broadway (Glass Menagerie) and film (The Birdcage), what advice she has for other young actors, she said,"If you can find something else to do, don't do this [act]. Only do this if you have to." Sounds like you're on the right track.