Auditions – a little word. Come and audition for Henry V. Come and give yourself over to an unknown process. Be raw. Be vulnerable. Be exposed. Memorise Shakespeare text. Stand alone in the middle of a great big hall, in front of a camera, in front of a panel, beneath a rattling air conditioner. Drive across the burning December country – where the watery mirages rise in the middle distance as far as the eye can see. Hot. A very hot December. After a year of cataclysm. Sign up your name, learn the lines, get in your car, walk through the door, face your fears.
Auditions – a little word. Come and audition for Henry V. Come even if you have never acted before. Come even if you barely feel comfortable reading Shakespeare, let alone speaking it out loud, let alone speaking it out loud to strangers. Let alone inhabiting a character of which you know little. How to let your body and your mind be free of inhibition. After a year of cataclysm. How to seize the day? Perhaps because of this, no better time.
Auditions – such a little word – but what it means, to commit your heart and head to an utterly unknown process. To learn lines, prime your physical and your mental self, drop your guard yet be poised and polished – bare yourself to a panel who may assess you like one does a cattle at market, a vase for sale, a sculpture. With a cool and a critical eye. Detached. Not as yourself, but as a vessel for story telling, as a body, a physicality, a thing. Dare you open yourself to this? A recipe for lacerating the ego. A leap of faith. Auditions will be on in December and January, they said. Audition for Henry V, they said. Compelled by the magic, the opportunity, the unknown, the challenge, the mystery – somehow people came. Driving through that visceral heat. Nervous, shy, bold. Old and young, men and women. Stepping into the space. Daring to be.
But not your ordinary auditions. Where the panel leapt to their feet. Where each candidate was gently coaxed. Where diversity of skill and energy was like opal mining for the production team – what gem next? The raw beautiful spectacle of people putting their trust in the team as they walked through the door. The ones that were too shy, too tired, or too uncertain. And couldn’t come. The ones who had not even put their names down, but turned up anyway. The utter grace of that process – of each individual who stepped forward into the light and embraced this THING that was suddenly happening. To have highly trained professional actors dancing around with you on the boards of the school hall, riffing with you, coaching you, teaching you, warming to you, being stunned by you. The courage and the dignity of each person who dared to audition for Henry V.
And then, the hours of discussion, thinking, dissecting. The audition team – also opening their hearts, daring to hope, fighting fears, moved to tears. The story of each person in that room – each person who auditioned – their private sacred stories, their reasons for stepping forward. The possibilities.
Ahhh, the possibilities. On those hot long days, in the middle of the Western Plains, the sun like a merciless marauder in the waterless fierce blue sky. The hours. The waiting. The faltering. The crystallising. Remembering what it feels like to do a very brand new terrifying thing for the very first time.
The first step. From the end of the Year of Wonders and over the horizon into the second year of this 21st century pandemic. And somehow, because of all this, even more reason to hope, to leap, to try. Understanding and honouring the courage of each one who auditioned, and the trust they place in us, who have dreamed this thing into being. And to reflect that there has perhaps been no other time where we have needed Shakespeare quite as much, and art and theatre and the elevation of our hearts and minds to the true beauty and possibilities of being human. The story. The beautiful human story. Expressed in art. Embodied in each one of those who stepped through the door at auditions and said ”yes” to the possibilities. #RoxyHenryV
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