Friday, March 31, 2006

Testing Wan, To, Pee (Part 1)

"You cow! Don't do this to me!"

"I'm sorry! I just know I can't do it!"

The heated conversation had to be carried out in a hushed tone outside the audition room. The girl inside had obviously had vocal training, as she twirled around the notes like a pen guided into cursive on lace-embossed paper. All the while Angeline had been anxiously keeping her eyes fixated through the glass panels, on the five judges lining the back of the room. It was unfortunate for her, and consequently me, that the hopefuls before us posed as horribly good competition. Angeline and I were laborious sisters of the art. Through triumph and suffering, I thought we would go through it together. She suddenly left me high and dry, shivering in the desolate cold of a simulated winter.

I didn't dare look inside, for fear that intimidation of trying out for the first time for a musical production would get the better of me too. I had to stay strong. I had to do it for Angie if not for me, and I did not want the trip to Sentul be in vain.

"Don't worry, it's not the first time she's pulled out of an audition at the last minute," Angeline's boyfriend, and designated driver for the evening, assured me.

It's been a while since my last theatre audition, where I was sworn at and casually dismissed by the director as a result of my session slotted in at the end of a presumably long, rough day, and also for me not being suited for any particular role unless I could pull off the portrayal of a 13-year old boy.

The nightingale left the audition room with a geeky grin and the next candidate entered, putting me next in line. I poked and pleaded, but Angeline was not budging. It was clear her decision was final. My growing jitters weren't being any less soothed by the over-achieving air conditioner, neither by the sudden sonic booms from the PA system every five minutes, politely ordering patrons to get their fashionably late derrières into the theatre before the doors close for the next stage performance.

Time had flown too fast for me to gather my wits to a sensible level as I watched the last person leave the room. I saw the tea lady enter with drinks for the judges, and motioned me in once she emptied her tray.

I took off my shoes, held my breath and opened the door. I walked into a bubble of comfort - it was heaps warmer in here, and for some reason, the judges did not look like judges anymore... just a bunch of people sitting at a table.

I was offered the chair placed directly in front of Joe Hasham. THE Joe Hasham. Also known as The Real Deal. The Head Honcho. The Big Kahuna. I grew up listening to his voiceovers while I was still an introverted little runt in a quiet Western Australian suburb. I have grown up with a desire to be introduced to him, and now that the opportunity was literally in my face, I was too dumbstruck to even remember what I was doing there. Had Faridah Merican not left the room for a breather, I would have by now soiled my knickers.

Joe the director was seated between the choreographer and two writers of the play. He gave me a firm handshake and introduced himself and his team, his black beady eyes providing a stark contrast to his pepper grey hair. "You are Davina, yes?" he asked in his voice of bottomless depth.

"Yes I am..."

"Davina... Davina. Hmmm. That's such a lovely name. Is that your given name? Where did it come from?"

Before I could go into my hackneyed explanation about how my mother borrowed it from Prince Charles's ex-girlfriend while she was living in London with my father all those years ago, he asked me if I have a Chinese name.

"I do... Mei Pin... Although I don't usually go by it."

"Mei Pin. Goh Mei Pin... What a beautiful name!"

Not only had I finally formally met Joe Hasham, he liked my name too. I hugged the clouds in my head. I felt the love.

He brought up my occupation as Assistant Events Manager.

"In such a field, there may often be times where you are required to work overtime. What would you do in the 'what if' situation that you being held back at work, but still have a rehearsal to go to?"

"Well, my boss has previously let me take leave for two weeks to shoot a movie..."

"But this isn't two weeks. This is four months."

I stuttered and spluttered.

"Okay, don't worry about that just yet. We'll start worrying about it if it does happen. You have a song prepared for us?"

I was not prepared but I did have a song, a blues number called Black Coffee which I sang once at a college prom night. I stood up and started singing in a voice which I did not recognize. My diaphragm had crept up to my throat without sufficient warning. I made Lindsay Lohan seem like a Grammy frontrunner.

Thankfully for me and my audience, Joe halted me before I got to the 'big' notes and instructed me to head over to the back of the room, where Jan the pianist was seated at a keyboard. She ran through some scales for me to orally mimic. There were some tricky parts to follow and my voice cracked at some points, but Jan assured me that she only wanted to test my range.

"Does she have an ear?" Joe asked.

"Yes, she does," replied Jan.

He noted it down, and I hugged another cloud.

Pat the choreographer then rose. "Do you dance?" she inquired.

Can I dance? Heck, I put on my boogie shoes with KC and The Sunshine band every Wednesday night.

"Have you done ballet before?"

...Oh.

"I haven't been professionally trained in anything, but I've done pop and hip hop stuff before..."

"Okay, can you show off some of your stuff to us?"

I wish I had responded negatively to her first question so she could have at least shown me her own moves for me to follow, just like she did with the candidates before me. Alas, with me thinking that I am superbly multi-talented, Jan popped a CD in the player and played a song that evoked images of cute furry animals getting high on Kool-Aid. I performed an abstract dance of cute furry animals getting high on Kool-Aid.

Pat then showed me a move: two steps outward, then two steps back in. It looked easy enough, until she quickened the pace to the point where her legs were a blur. She suddenly stopped, and me a second later.

"Can we brush her up?" Joe asked.

"Yeah, I think we can." Pat replied. And a cloud came around to give me a pat on the head.

I sat back down and Joe pulled out a script. This was wierd, seeing that the other candidates before me left promptly after the choreography segment. "I would like you to read the part of Mei Ling. Just take a look at this part and start when you're ready."

I was halfway through until Joe told me to stop, and start again standing up. I read out the lines without knowing what I was talking about until I was done uttering them. From what I could gather, it was basically dialogue that made the character sound like a intelligent woman who was incidentally reading an intelligent book.

Joe thanked me after I was done. "You have a very good voice. Your expression is very good." I was alarmed at his observation, but nevertheless gave low fives to all my homie clouds in front row.

I sat back down. "Your acting is good, your dancing is ok. Your singing voice... Meeeehhhh..." He scrunched his face up and waved the 'so-so' gesture. I laughed and admitted that I still needed a lot of work in that department.

"We'll be having call backs soon, so we will contact you if you're selected for that..." I nodded like a shy schoolgirl.

"...But I think you might have to have a talk with your boss, because I would like to call you back."

My clouds rewound the tape and played it back to make sure they heard it right.

"I would like to call you back."

Joe Hasham would like to call me back for a Malaysian musical which he is directing.

My face was the emoticon of WTF.

I stumbled out of the room, collected my shoes and collapsed on the floor with my feet in the air. Angeline and her boyfriend picked me up and escorted me out: an overwhelmed, wheezing wreck. I was a piece of yellow paper short of going to Hollywood.

I thought my days of employee anxiety were long over, and then I had to be a wise@$$ and put myself in the predicament again. How I would explain to my boss that I wouldn't be able to stay back late? How would I get myself to KLPac for rehearsals? How would I be able to see my family, mates and boyfriend without looking like a POW?

I guess Joe was right, I should just chuck my eggs back into the basket and wait. And even if I don't get it, I'll be glad that a six-year stage hiatus didn't keep me from trying my best.

And as icing on the cake, my name rocks and I didn't even know it.

12 Comments:

Blogger Joy / Quilana said...

Aw that's so awesome. I'm glad it went better than you might have expected. Here's hoping! Just follow your dreams, woman! Who knows where you could go from here if you got the part?! *hugs*

9:37 PM  
Blogger commonjack said...

finally! i've been checking your site everyday since you called!! (to read about your audition). :)

i read yours and re-read mine again ... i felt a shiver down my spine(not the good kind) - thats what memories of that audition does to me...anyway...

i'm crossing fingers for you. it's such a joy working with Joe - it's amazing the things you learn about the craft, - the work ethic involved ... ya da ya da...

although, you haven't been called back yet huh? i honestly can't imagine why ... but then again - i'm biased. *Grin.

be sure to let me know when you know k? then i can go watch you on stage and wait outside with the prog book and pen at klpac.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous midnite lily said...

i could feel your nervousness while reading this. i hope you get a part! ^_^ would love to come see you.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

Congra... I think.

I'll play the wiseass who says: take the STAR LRT to Titiwangsa, then hop on a bus to Jalan Ipoh, to the big HOME signage.

Oh wait, then there's the long winding walk to KLPAC.

There's also the Sentul KTM station, but that shortcut is creepy.

*scribbles mental note in Davina's head* Make friends with cast members who drive.

8:14 AM  
Blogger cyber-red said...

dancing queennnnnnnnn hear her.. erm..

you know.. strut her stuff? hehehe

koolness!!

8:22 PM  
Blogger Bodohbird said...

Hey there.. this is Hans, the guy who sent you the Jack Johnson CD...? Anyway good luck and congrats in advance! I do check out your blog every now and then.. i've been a lurker long enough so i thought i'd start blogging to to give something back to the blogger community

http://bodohblog.blogspot.com/

do drop by :)

9:48 PM  
Blogger mob1900 said...

hope the ringtone on your HP goes off like horny rabbits! anyway, be prepare for poor pay and long hours of rehersals, all these just to make your soul a little happy. don't say i didn't warn ya.

4:30 AM  
Blogger burn666 said...

Good luck Davina!

(Oooh - Peggy Lee's Black Coffee? Nice!)

Hey, here's hoping that you get the gig...

12:48 PM  
Blogger disco-very said...

joy,
thanks for your support! hope it will get me somewhere.

dilettante,
you are way too much. :) thanks for sharing your experience on your own blog because it gave me inspiration to try my best like you did. i'd be nervous about working with Joe if i get the part but i trust your word about the experience :)

midnite lily,
to know that you would be my audience would be a daunting thought... thanks for your support!

albert,
As a matter of fact I am looking for directions to get to KLPac via opublic transport. for the callback I'll probably be getting the sentul lrt stop and find my way from there. thanks for the tips yo.

cyber-red,
it's okay, i don't know the lyrics either. :P

bodohbird,
hi Hans! thanks for dropping by. I've just checked out your blog, it's pretty sweet.

mob 1900,
Aspirations differ from person to person, as does the importance placed between the destination and the journey itself. Happiness to one may be a pimped-up ride and a house in Malibu. Happiness to another may be giving up a full-time job to devoting his/her life to religion. My happiness is to perform and entertain. If you keep your mind open, sacrifice is all but a matter of perception. :)

Burn666,
Thank you! I've only heard a cover version of the song but I've been told the Peggy Lee and Fitzgerald ones are awesome.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous prianna said...

AHHHHH D!!! Congratulations :)

2:03 AM  
Blogger Fashionasia said...

you have a good portfolio...im sure u can make it!!! bravo!
and Davina is a really lovely name!!

8:46 PM  
Blogger disco-very said...

prianna,
thank yoouu!

fashionasia,
*blush* my portfolio isn't all that fantastic, but i hope to work on that. thanks!

5:24 PM  

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