"Acting is the business of inducing your own insecurities." John Lithgow
For those of you who don't know, I have spent the past week at the NSAL National Drama Competition in Washington D.C. and it was amazing. It rocked my britches off. Seriously.
I was surrounded by ridiculously talented kids, which at times was a little overwhelming, but they were all very nice and funny and so on. There is so much that happened, that I perhaps should break it down into days....
I arrive at the hotel and moments later I meet my roommate. Um, and I love her. She taught me the importance of being fierce and to demand that people recognize how awesome I am. She also taught me about the three p's. Anyway, we register and that night at the orientation banquet, we are greeted with bagpipes and the color guard. And free drinks... very important. I meet several other cool kids, one whom I instantly discover we are connected through mutual theatre friends! And then we go on a bus tour of D.C.
Okay, so I got lost at the Lincoln Memorial. My roommate and I spent 45 minutes trying to find our group and our bus. Everyone was cool except "Big Pink", who looked like she wanted to strangle the two of us and for the rest of the trip constantly reminded us where the bus was and would drop comments about not wanting to lose us again. Yeesh.
We go to a luncheon at the very prestigious Cosmos Club. I mean, fancy out the wazoo. Let me take a moment to say that I did not pay for a thing... all of this was covered by NSAL, which girl- they have money honey. That evening we are invited to the Indonesian Embassy, which is held in the most expensive home ever built in the U.S. and was where the owners of the Hope Diamond lived. It was very pootsie; we were treated to dinner and Indonesian dancing.
The competition. I feel my stomach turning the whole time. I lay down on a bench and try to stop shaking. When it is my turn, I begin my first piece and I feel my underwear, which ties up with ribbons on the side, start to slide down. I clench my buttocks together and pray that my drawers do not slide all the way down my legs. Not because of the embarrassment factor, but because it could be considered a prop!
That night we meet a few people from the cast of Ragtime at the Kennedy Center and then go on a backstage tour. I wanted to take pictures of all the posters of productions that had been held there because you would not believe. Holy. Moly. Did you know that there was a ballet of Edward Scissorhands? Did you? We then went to Watergate for dinner (more pootsie-ness) and then went home.
Master class with the judges-- the first one who spoke was the artistic director at the Kennedy Center. Mostly he talked about marketing yourself as a product and shared stories of how freaking hard it is to get your foot in the door. He was followed by a guy who is a casting director at ABC (for shows like Ugly Betty, Dirty/Sexy/Money, etc) who continued on with this theme but talked about the business of television. They both had excellent points and I took lots of notes. Then came Mark Medoff - if you don't know who that is, he is a famous playwright/screenwriter/director... has won Tony awards and been nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay "Children of a Lesser God". He had a few of us read from his upcoming screenplay that he is directing... and then rewarded me by saying I had really gotten the character and then later pulling me aside to tell me how good I was and to give me notes about my competition pieces. He truly is an amazing man- I felt honored to have made some kind of impact on him, because he made a point to talk to me several times after the class. This probably made the whole trip worthwhile, honestly.
Then John Lithgow came and worked with three students on monologues. He pulled me up onstage to partner with a guy who was doing a piece from The Diviners. Then, joy of joys, he talked about Shakespeare. I got to talk to John Lithgow ABOUT SHAKESPEARE. My heart melted, I swear. Then before I left, Geoffrey Soffer (the casting director) took my head shot and resume. Hurray!
So, moving on- that night was the banquet, where I was the most under dressed person there, but whatever! I didn't win, however, the whole experience had been so mind blowing, and the kids there were so talented that I honestly did not mind. I had such an amazing time!
After getting around an hour and a half of sleep, I got up and went to the Russian Embassy, where we were treated to a performance from a one man show and then discussed Stanislavsky. Then I came home.
That is honestly the abridged version of all the events that happened while I was there. It was unforgettable- the other contestants were the shit, and I discovered I liked being treated like a pootsie lady. I also learned a lot. And I brought home some great quotes. Ahem.
"Sometimes the best things that happen are the things that go wrong."
"The only creative conversation that's useful is an honest one."
"I'm not looking for a performance, but three seconds of genius."
"I need you to be who I need you to be so I'll be comfortable."
John-Paul Sartre via Mark Medoff