Today, it’s storytime and it won’t be about anything else than my first time. If you came for a spicy story about my first time in a way everyone thinks it is, I’m sorry, but that was kind of clickbait. Today, I’ll tell you about my first time on a theatre rehearsal. However, no, please, don’t leave! It’s not so spicy, but I swear it’s still worthy reading!
The idea itself – to go and try to play in an amateur theatre – has been on my mind since I was around 11 years old and I saw my first proper theatre play. It was Mary Poppins and I still remember how thrilled I was to see it. Since I saw my first ever theatre play, there have been much more – such as Les Miserables, Cats, Pope Joan (my all time favourite) or Johnny Blue. I have always thought that maybe I would like to try how it feels to be on the opposite side of the theatre and to perform in front of people. I ditched that idea deep down and it took me five years to take the courage and actually do a step forward. However, before I did anything on my own, I actually encouraged Jane and somehow, she happens to act in a theatre by now and somehow, she also realized she wants to be an actress, which is very funny considering that it was me who said: “Holy ****, go and become an actress, because I can’t stand how talented you are anymore.” Even funnier, it was her and my friend Tom (who also happens to act in a theatre), who told me that if it is, what I want to do, I should just go for it. So I did.
If we move a bit further, we are now in June 2016. I was searching for some amateur theatre near my home, which wouldn’t be too big, but would have some quality and history and – it must have been a miracle, otherwise I can’t explain this – I found one. It is just in the village next to mine, a few generations of actors have already played there, it has some famous actors, who came from here and are now acting in Prague and also, my brother’s friend happens to act there as well. No one knew, though. Not even my brother. So, I contacted her, she did some research on the actors they’re just looking for and she texted me and invited me on their rehearsal… which was fine and very exciting, but she also didn’t tell me anything more. Am I going to go through an audition? Should I prepare somehow? Is it going to be formal or informal? Where the freaking theatre even is?
Fortunately, she picked me up with her car, so I successfully got to the theatre. Is was kinda small, but cozy and with that typical theatre-y smell. I don’t know how to describe that smell. I suppose most of you know how do theatres smell. We came in and there was just some lovely looking lady, possibly in her fifties. I smiled and greeted. She introduced herself as the director of the play they’re just about to rehearse. I introduced myself, but she didn’t hear me. How awkward is that? In my opinion, I spoke just as I normally do, but it’s possible that it was a bit more quiet, due to the fact that I was really nervous. So, I said my name once more and her answer was something like: “Well, if you wanna get a part, you better speak up.” in a really warning way, which made me like her a bit less. She suddenly didn’t seem so lovely.
I took a seat next to the brother’s friend and waited. I didn’t really know for what, but I supposed there are more people to come. We chatted a bit, but it was more like… awkward and non-personal. I was legit scared that I’m making the worst possible impression, but I had no idea what to do on an audition for a theatre… that’s not something you do every day, right? Other actors started coming in and so I greeted every one of them and every one of them looked at me very strangely, surprised and maybe a bit confusedly, just like they’d say “what the heck are you doing here?” I -again- didn’t know if the director is going to introduce me to everyone or if I should introduce myself, so I introduced to the few people who actually made the effort to speak to me (three out of ten) and I just left the rest behind. After some time, the director finally took a word and told the others who I am and why I am here, which was very awkward as well, because everyone turned around to look at me and I was just sitting on my chair, trying to play it cool like I’m the biggest actor and I have definitely ever acted in a theatre before. I didn’t, duh.
“Um, hey,” I smiled. “For those, who I didn’t have the chance to speak to… I’m Veronika,” I managed to finally introduce and they all stood up to shake my hand, so I did that awkward circle to shake my hand with everyone, trying to remember their names, which – turns out – didn’t work, because as soon as I sat back down, I didn’t have an idea what are those names they just told me.
Then, they finally went on stage and because no one told me anything, I just stayed in the auditorium, sitting next to the director. Suddenly, I heard a voice from the stage. It was that quite short and seemingly nice guy, who – from what I’ve heard – was some sort of boss of the theatre.
“Could you come up here?” he shouted. I obviously didn’t answer, thinking it was meant for the director sitting just next to me.
“Hey, down there, could you come?” he shouted once more and I suddenly realized it was actually meant for me.
“Umm… me?” I pointed at myself. Yup, I definitely didn’t seem totally stupid.
“Yeah, of course,” he rolled his eyes and laughed. Oh, well. Great. I will never ever embarrass myself so much as I’m going to do so in the next few minutes, I thought. I climbed up the stage and looked around. Quite a nice view. The other actors were going around the stage, rearranging things and chairs and so I just awkwardly stood there with my hands in my pockets. Very representing body language, Ronnie, you rule.
“Our friend isn’t here today, so you’ll play her role. Is it okay?” the guy said to me.
“Yeah, it’s fine… I guess,” I nodded and he left me up there on stage. I could see they were just about to start when I realized I don’t have the script. I looked around and no one really seemed to have one spare, so I turned around to the director and quietly shouted (I know that doesn’t make sense, but I can shout really quietly): “Is there any spare script? I kinda don’t have any.” She gave me some and we started. It took me a few more moments to realize I have no idea, which act or part are they in. So, instead of casually asking, I started to quickly turn around the pages, until someone saw me and whispered the number of the page, hiding his laugh. God, I felt so terrible.
I did alright on the stage and it was time to come down, have a little rest and a drink and do it all once more. I felt really thirsty from all that speaking, so I basically drank the whole glass of water I had and whoops, I discovered I need to leave for the toilet. And I had no freaking idea where to go. You know, there are some awkward topics to talk about with people you need to make a good impression on, then there are some even more awkward and then, there’s the question: “Um, excuse me, but… could you show me, where’s the toilet? I kinda need to… you know, go.”
After we did the whole Act 2 once more, the rehearsal was finally over. Most of the people have left the theatre and the director, the guy, the brother’s friend and me were the only ones left in there.
“So, you want to join us?” asked the guy, now I knew almost for sure he’s the theatre boss.
“Yeah, if it’s possible, I’d be very glad,” I answered in a humble way. That was not acted, I actually didn’t want to seem like “oh yah, heck, I’m feelin like I can do bettah dan u, bro”
“Fine, then. I’m glad to welcome you between us,” he smiled.
“Oh, really? Thanks!”
By that time, the director stepped in: “However, we don’t have a spare role for this play, so you’ll start as a help. Everyone starts like that. You’ll have to work your way through to the main roles, they don’t just fall into your lap.”
“Yeah, sure, I get that. I’m happy with that.”
“I’ll give you your own script on the next rehearsal, until then, you can keep this, it’s a spare one.”
On the way home with my brother’s friend (which already has happened to become also my friend, because we’re theatre buddies now), I reflected on everything I went through that evening and I’ve realized that it actually went far better than I thought it will. I guess that sometimes you just have to be yourself, even if you’re relatively shy, clumsy, awkward and scared to show yourself off. Because it’s all about who you truly are, not about who you’re pretending to be.
You can check out the theatre’s Facebook page right here. 🙂
DISCLAIMER: After getting to know everybody a bit better, I’ve discovered they’re all really kind and nice people, so if any of my quirky writing style was not understood, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend anybody. I like the theatre squad a lot, actually.