In her latest blog, Louise Sorel (Vivian, DAYS) goes back in time to describe her first audition for a Broadway play…
I go back stage, join the throng of actors that all look perfect for the part. Again, I wonder what I’m doing here. Ten minutes of hell go by. The stage manager calls my name.
“I’m not ready,” I blurt.
“Excuse me,” he says “Mr. Abbott’s waiting.”
“Sorry, I need some time.” I can’t believe I’m doing this.
“Fine, next,” he snarls.
I glance up the cold gray stairs that lead to the next floor and hurl myself up to the next landing. I’m lucky I wasn’t asked to leave. Shit, I deep breathe, rub my hands to stop them from shaking. Self, I say, get the hell down there and do this.
I make a slow descent. Approach the stage manager and whisper that I’m ready.
He sort of huffs at me and says, “Fine, I’ll let Mr. Abbott know.”
“Ms. Sorel is ready now, Mr. Abbott.” I hear his condescending tone. But I think, they will at least know my name by now.
I propel myself onto the stage and charge in front of the stage manager who is reading with me. I glance out into the house and there is not a human being in sight. There is a ghost light center stage and pitch-blackness in the theater. All I can hear is some rustling of paper. It’s eerie and daunting to say the least. I take a long step and force the stage manager to follow me around as I say my lines. The character is a semi-sophisticated college student with a sort of Bette Davis air about her. I got to about the fourth sentence and a bellowing voice from the dark says, “Thank you, that’s fine, can you come back next week?”
“Yes,” I say, fairly shaken from being so abruptly cut off. “Is that you, Mr Abbott?”
“Yes, it certainly is.”
“Couldn’t I just read a little more?”
“No, you can’t.”
“So thank you,” he says, “we’ll see you next week.”
As I exit the backstage door, I feel the hard pavement, hear the noise of taxis, sirens and the thrilling sounds of New York clatter. I’m in slow motion, going against the wind. Miming my way down Broadway. Everything is heavenly and I am cocooned in my moment upon the stage and all I can hear is, “Come back next week.”
The week is a blur. I don’t know how these days have passed but here I am again backstage. The Broadway theater is now the center of my very small universe. I see some of the same actors and actresses from the week before and still am convinced this is a mistake. Again, I report in and pace around like a lioness in wait. I can barely stand to hear other actresses’ voices saying my lines. They’re my lines.
“Ms. Sorel, you’re up.” This from the assistant stage manager who is not nearly so snarly this time. “Good luck,” he says.
Out I go. Waltzing around the stage, forcing the stage manager to follow again. And there is that voice.
“Thank you, Louise” in the middle of one of my sentences. “That will be fine,” bellows Mr. A.
I’m going to gag. It’s sentence interruptus again. What does this mean? I leave deflated and confused. The cacophony on the street is deafening. Thank you Louise for what? I didn’t finish, I don’t know what I did and he didn’t ask me to come back. Dead end. Over. Finished.
I’m home. The garbage smells bad this time. The heat is getting me and I’ve lost my appetite. Do I call Ms. Raab? What can I say? I failed? I’m sorry? Will she even take my call? My father was right. What could I have been thinking? College, drama school and then real life. Limbo. I’ve got to get through this day and this night and who knows how many others, without a word from Mr. A or maybe never another word from Ms. Raab. I haven’t spoken to Vince, my live-in boyfriend, for a few days and I know I need to call him. It’s always difficult because he operates from such jealousy and it’s very upsetting. But I need to talk to him so I put my dime in Mr. Bell and call collect.
“Hi, I’m in our phone booth and didn’t have change. Sorry, how’s the show going?”
“Hi, baby. We’re doing good. Rip Torn is great and the girl, Janet Margolin is lovely. What’s going on with you and the reading?”
“Oh, nothing. I was dismissed after I read half a scene and that was it. I haven’t heard anything. I’m afraid to call the service, but I’ll call tomorrow morning. I miss you.”
“Yes, I miss you too. It’s late; you should get back to the apartment. Don’t worry. Maybe you’ll hear something tomorrow. You’re alone, I take it.”
I hear that suspicious sound and ignore it.
“Yes, Vince. I’ll call you tomorrow. Goodnight.”
I trudge home, wind my way through the basement, past the garbage cans and into our spare, elongated apartment. Now what? I spy a half bottle of Gallo wine and decide to sip it. I reread some love letters from Vince, fill up our tub and check for roaches before entering. This is soothing. I crawl into bed and finally fall asleep. Morning. Cross beams of light from the bars and I’m up like a shot. The phone booth is waiting for me. I’m out of coffee so I have the perfect excuse to head out.
I get my chock full of nuts and greet Mr. Bell.
In goes the dime. “Actors Answering Service. Who’s calling?”
“Louise Sorel, 448.”
“Oh yes, Ms. Sorel, there’s a message from a Ms. Raab, to call her and you have the number.”
“What? Uh, yes, yes I do. Uh, thanks.”
I hang up. I actually think I’ve stopped breathing. Yes, I have no pulse. I’ve left the planet. It’s now — there’s no way out. I’m making the call.