I haven’t had to do a monologue audition in quite some time, so when a string of them got scheduled I kinda had to scramble and dig up some stuff from my school days. I felt fairly confident in my ability to execute the monologues well enough, having used most of them before, although frankly I could probably use a refresher course for these kinds of auditions. Then again, I don’t know what kind of class could prepare me for the faux pas I pulled off this evening.
One of my monologues come from the play Those the River Keeps, by David Rabe. I like the speech a lot. The character is a former mobster discussing the incident that made him realize he was not cut out for the lifestyle. The event he describes involves him punching a dog, and accidentally killing it. The description is vivid and detailed, enough so that I actually have to cut it down some to make it an acceptable length for an audition piece. Still, it’s moderately violent, and somehow the fact that the violence is directed toward a dog makes it a little more . . . something. You know what I mean?
Tonight I needed two monologues, contrasting. I’ve got this dog one, plus another that is funny but straight-laced, and a third that is straight up silly. Given the kind of plays this company was known for, I figured I’d hit ’em with the dog speech first, and then give them the straight-laced comedic one. I was a little rough on the lines for that one, but the combination seemed right. At least, it did until I walked into the audition room and saw an actual, honest-to-god dog lying there. I didn’t say anything aloud, and the auditors were making a few preliminary notes and therefore did not notice my double-take.
I got through it. What else could I do? Afterward one of the auditors told me that the speech didn’t really work for him. I was too frazzled to explain that I had just done a speech about killing a dog in front of a dog.
There is a part of me that feels like I should have known about the dog. Like I should have remembered, oh yeah, there is a good possibility that there will be a dog in the room. It was a nice enough dog. Black lab, very well-behaved. It just laid on its little doggie mat the whole time. I had to fight hard not to keep looking at it as I worked. I think it was watching me, and judging.
Oh, and that second monologue? The one I was a little rough with on the lines? I scrapped that. No way was I gonna remember that thing. I went straight for the silly. Probably not what they wanted, but at least I got an amusing story out of it.