So, last night reminded me of my own brief theatrical career consisting of a mere two roles during my weird adolescence. When I was 10, I played “Sally” in Sterling Elementary’s production of In Quest Of Columbus– a racist and inconsistent account of Columbus’ discovery of America. I actually signed up to be a Native American because I thought they had the coolest costumes- brown paper bags and feathers necklaces, but my music teacher assigned me a lead instead. It was awful. At 10-years-old, I couldn’t sleep in fear that I would forget my lines at showtime. I’m pretty sure this experience was the trigger of my anxiety induced sweating issues.
In 7th grade, I was Java Java, an absent-minded gorilla in an Indiana Jones adventure style musical number. Being cast as a gorilla is pretty traumatic for a 13-year-old girl who is experiencing some significant body changes and hair growth. I had just changed schools again so it wasn’t like my social life could withstand the frequent physical comparisons. I’ve managed to block that part of my life from my memory quite successfully. That is, until last night.
Thank you to the 12 young ladies I had the pleasure of meeting. Every single one was talented, beautiful and smart. I walked out of there delighted but also in a panic because this is going to be a really difficult decision.
Another thing Alison and I were discussing in the car ride home is how strange the casting process can be. I mean, these things are set up so casting directors can judge people on potentially superficial characteristics, which makes me feel a little sick inside. If I say the words “her look” one more time I’m going to throw up. Strangely, auditioning can be insightful too. I have an idea of Basil in my head and quickly realize what I thought I wanted is just a shell and these awesome kids can fill it and make her their own. There were a few moments when the girls said such honest things about their siblings or what they do alone in their room and that made me realize it isn’t just finding “the look” (I just barfed in my mouth), it’s also about understanding how they see themselves in a ridiculous but incredible 5 minute interview and what that does for a movie dealing with concepts of the formation of personal identity. I saw something unique in all of them and that’s rad. Oh and I am not interested in traditional beauty nor do I feel I write boring, stereotypical characters that movies tend to promote, so there.
Having said ALL that, I think five of the girls have the potential to hop into Basil and make her real. That kind of chokes me up because I’ve been living with her in my head for years and now she’s finally coming to life.
I want to thank Dan for setting all of this up for me because I have no idea what I’m doing. For such a big strong brute of a guy, he is incredibly gentle with kids and with parents. He walked behind each kid as they made their way down those steep stairs to the mark. CUTE.
Also, Alison is slowly becoming the right side of my brain as it fries easily these days. She asked questions that let me see past the monologue/song/nerves and brought out little shining bits of the kids personalities (some of which I want to put on the blooper reel because I almost lost it). I learned a lot from her. Al and I no longer need to communicate with words. Sleepy grunts seem to do the trick.
Call backs will be held ASAP. Wish us luck. What an awesome experience.