Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting the Call

To survive an Adam Adolfo audition is not an easy feat to accomplish; I know. I’ve survived three! They are far from typical, completely unexpected, in your face and personal space, and everything an actor wanting to grow desires from a director. Most of the time, you won’t learn this about the director until the rehearsal process has begun, but not with Adam. He lays it all out there for you, right in your face. It’s a big reason why I continue to audition for him.

When I first learned that he was directing Kiss of the Spiderwoman, I knew this was a show I wanted to be a part of in some way, shape, or form. I preferred the form of the Spiderwoman. The role of the Spiderwoman is an iconic role and would give me a chance to really stretch my abilities and take on a leading role; a title role. This could be a huge opportunity to redefine myself as a leading lady and not just a comedic character, which I often play. Though I love playing the bold, brassy, funny woman in a show, I know that I want to be seen as an actor who can tackle a leading role and shine in it. So, I signed up for the audition.
The audition requirement was a 2 minute monologue, memorized (typical) and a song in the style of the show (typical, again). These were the only things typical of the audition. I searched relentlessly for a monologue and struggled with what song to sing. I found the perfect combination, practiced every chance I got, forced my sister to listen to my monologue at least 15 times, and sang in my car, shower, living room, kitchen; I’m sure my neighbors love me. I arrived for the audition; nervous as all get out, but prepared. I went in and sang and preformed my monologue. Adam and Josh, both, gave me some suggestions they needed to hear for my pieces. I performed those and was asked to come to callbacks the next day.

Callbacks were not at all what I had expected. I was to sing the title song “Kiss of the Spiderwoman”. I went in with Josh to learn the notes and was then to perform it for Adam. So, I did. He was not entertained. He gave me some suggestions to change the performance. I took them and changed it up; it was not enough. He gave me an emotional scenario to play and still he wanted more. He knew he could get more from me. He then had some of the production staff physically try and restrain me as I sang the song. I was getting fed up and aggravated. He told me to go and look over the words and take a break. Several minutes later, I came back to sing again. He asked me if I was ok, first. I said I was very emotional. He said, “Let go, lose control.” I began to sing again; something was different this time. I finished the song and Adam stood there staring at me. He said, “I’m offering you the part of the Spiderwoman right now.”

What just happened? These were the only words floating in my head at that moment that I could even understand. What just happened? I stared back at Adam as though he were nuts. He said, “Emily, I’m offering you the lead right here and now.” I just stared at him. I was in shock, but was starting to come to. He just offered me the lead; right there. There it was staring me in the face; my chance, my opportunity, my starring role. I started crying. I looked at him and said, “Yes”. He came up to me and hugged me and I just lost it. I sobbed. I let it all out. He pulled my shoulders back and looked me in the eye and said, “I make you this promise now. I won’t let you fail.” What an amazing thing for a director to say to an actor. I won’t let you fail. I hugged him and said, “thank you.” He pulled back and said, “Now, go call your best friend and your boyfriend because I know you can’t keep a secret from them, but no one else knows until we announce the cast list Monday.” I made those calls, cried again as I relived the moments I had just experienced with each of them, and giggled and screamed with excitement and happiness.

So, here I am. I am living a dream of mine. I am scared. I am happy. I am nervous. I am confident. I have a director who believes in me and my abilities. I am Emily Kate Hardy and I am the Spiderwoman. Feel my kiss.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Throw a Viesta

About a year ago, I was sitting in a meeting at the Rose Marine Theatre with the Artes de la Rosa programming committee. Adam Adolfo, our artistic leader presented an idea. Without speaking, he simply placed a book on the table. It was Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues. All the women at the table, including me, burst into applause. I was thrilled. My immediate thought was "can we?, dare we?, For our Latino community? Are you serious? Bold! hmmm...I must direct this!" My mind was racing.

At first, I remembered my own experience with the show. Years ago, I performed for V-Day in Detroit. Memories started flooding back. I did Coochie Snorcher. I had a southern dialect. It was a performance to me. 10 years later, as I began to prepare as director, I realize that this is not only a play, but a global movement.

Thinking about the staging of the play, I had elaborate ideas. When I began to research the cause, I realized that the staging and set meant nothing compared to the message. This is about giving voice to something bigger than a bunch of women talking about 'down there'. So much more.

Theatre has the power to unite, educate, and bring about change. At first I felt overwhelmed. How will I do this?

Eve Ensler has given us the words to share. My job is to bring it to our community with integrity and consciousness. I have directed and produced hundreds of plays in my 20 plus years theatre career, but I have never directed something so important.

The next challenge: unite a bilingual cast...the next chapter (or blog, shall we say)...

Yvonne Duque
Director, Advocate, Artes de la Rosa Board Member