I wish I could do castings at the airport.

No, really. It would solve multiple problems, and I don't just mean the problem I have, right now of being bored at the Zurich airport (which is my least favorite airport EVER; I hate it even more than I hate LAX).

If castings were held in airports people would show up on time. They would be dressed like their everyday selves, they'd be there to get the job done, and, presumably they'd leave their weapons at home. Yeah, I once had a guy show up to an audience with a gun under his jacket; he was a lawyer by day, so in New York it's conceivable he had a concealed carry permit, but dude. I'm chill with guns, but there's a time and a place -- for me, this wasn't so much it.

Look, auditions are hard. And weird. And decided on a range of often random criteria. I get that. After all, I do have more experience on that side of the table than the casting side, and wow, have I learned valuable lessons from flipping back and forth on those roles.

At bottom though, the audition process isn't just a job interview; it's also speed-dating, and a dinner party. If I'm sitting behind the table auditioning you, I feel obligated to be a good host. I want you to be comfortable, I want to focus on you, and I want to make sure you have a glass of water if you need it. I want you to know that I want you to be there. After all, I asked you to be there.

A lot of what I'm looking at isn't just if you have the skills, or if you're going to have chemistry with the other people I'm interested in casting. It's not just if you can be on time and be moderately professional. It's also about whether I'm going to enjoy being stuck in a small room with you, a stranger, dealing with emotional intimacies for the next however many weeks. If I enjoy your audition, I need to be able to figure out fast how I think you'll slot into the group and what type of authority and support you will and won't need from me.

As an auditioner, this means I try to respect the people behind the table, be genuine and keep them from being bored. I want them to know that I appreciate their efforts, know that their side of the table is awkward too, and thank them for seeing me. And a lot of this, I have to show, don't tell. It's hard. Especially when you've also got to show up with the skills (also, seriously, it's weird do be affable and connected and then be Lady Anne, because she's a lot of things, but affable not so much).

If you're auditioning for something, and especially if you're new to auditioning, often, if you're like me, you'll consider your odds of getting cast, and your computations will be quite grim. Well let me tell you something, stop that right now.

Because if you can come into the room, say hello to me, make chit-chat for 30 seconds and do your monologue actually facing the table -- you are so ahead of the game. If you haven't sat behind the table, you think I'm joking, but I'm not. I've had people do monologues with their back to me because, they explained, they were nervous. I've had people build a jury box out of chairs (while my mouth hung open) and then proceed to do a spot-on imitation of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. There was the guy with the gun. The people who brought their boyfriends (fine as a safety precaution if I'm auditioning you in a non-standard space; a complete distraction if I'm auditioning you at a rehearsal studio and they want in the room with you).

As a student of persona, I say to you, you have to come in that room performing the best you, you can. But don't come off like Jack Harkness trying to con someone. Because one of the most frustrating things is when people come in who seem interesting, but it's hard to get to who they are because they're spending ridiculous amounts of energy being someone about ten feet to the left. It's maddening. Look, I pretty much often wish I was someone else too -- I often think I'm someone else, but I'm not 5'9", I don't have a perfect smile, my eyes will always look sad, I don't have a deep, sonorous speaking voice, or a calm grace in day-to-day interactions, and I hate my hair. I can fake a lot of that shit, and I can fake it well, BUT WHY?

What does all of this have to do with Dogboy & Justine other than soon it will be magic casting time? The women of Mistress Maybe's House of Sin are always auditioning: for the job, for respect from the other girls, for the men that would hire them. And the struggle for confidence you don't feel, the uncertainty about who is the host of an interaction, the debatable wisdom of being someone other than who you are despite the fact it's -- like in acting -- a basic rule of the game, are all central to their experiences and the story we're telling.

Do I think acting is like prostitution? The short answer is no, but if you've done both, they sure can feel remarkably like the same job -- the current disunion of acting and sex work is actually a lot like the modern disunion of classical dance and social dance; once they weren't cousins, siblings or frenemies, but simply one. Really, it's the sort of complicated issue I should tackle so I can ramble about a lot of media I love and share random historical trivias about stuff I do.

But one thing I think acting and sex-work do absolutely have in common in our modern world is the anxiety that surrounds the desperation on both sides of the equation when all you really want is for someone to play a game with you.

[ Will you play a game with us? Dogboy & Justine is about learning how to ask for what you want and discovering what you've got to give, please consider supporting our projection by commenting here, boosting the signal or contributing to our Kickstarter fundraising drive. 72 fabulous donors have thus far pledged $3,450 towards our workshop production, but we need to raise another $2,550 in the next 34 days to actually secure our funding to make this happen. ]
I am listening to Inception: The Musical RIGHT NOW.

And soon you will be too. This week.

It's really good. And having a bit of distance from it makes it even better.

IT'S AMAZING.

It's also a bucket of innuendo. Like, I keep almost sending it my parents, and then it's like "OH WAIT, THIS ENTIRE SONG IS ONE LONG GAG JOKE ABOUT FELLATIO."

So yeah. Happy Tuesday!

More later.
There's a certain delicious humor for me in the fact that one of the reasons Dogboy & Justine is happening right here, right now, in just this way is that I finally got the message about not waiting for permission through my thick skull. I mean, it's a show about dominatrices -- and that's a world that's all about waiting for permission.

But aside from the permission-induced giggle, there sure are a lot of other reasons why putting on a show and asking people for money are totally relevant to the world of the show. And I find it particularly satisfying that the backstage stories and on stage stories that are part of this echo each other.

In our Kickstarter video, I talk a little bit about how we see Dogboy & Justine as a backstage story, in that long tradition of musicals that are backstage stories (42nd Street and Kiss Me Kate to name just two of my personal favorites). After all, the women of Mistress Maybe's House of Sin wear funny costumes, lie about their names, and pretend to be in love with people they're not, all while working to make sure no one knows when they're having a bad day at the office. Just like theater, you've gotta put on the paint and put on a show like you haven't done it a hundred times before.

Of course though, these women are just doing an overt version of what we all do every day -- performing ourselves both in public and in private. In Dogboy & Justine we have actresses playing women playing dominatrices. But it's not like that extra layer of persona isn't present for the male characters as well -- it's just less consistent as our actors play men with private desires playing men who are trying to present a certain image to those whose services they're seeking.

Everyone, in short, both on-stage in this play and off-stage in actual life, is a whole lot of different people, and I really do hope it's that backstage story element that draws people into Dogboy & Justine's story. Not just because here is a tradition the audience understands (and so offers a balm about the potentially shocking environment of the show -- which isn't here to be an edgy gimmick, btw, it really is a world I'm interested in writing about).

Rather, I have this suspicion that backstage stories aren't just appealing, aren't just sexy, to audiences because most of us have had fantasies about being on stage or being a star or being connected to celebrity or artistry in some way. Rather, I think, we instinctually respond to the backstage story because we all have a backstage life, even if we're not performers -- or sex workers.

Everyone is someone when they get home. Someone who smiles differently than they do at the office. Someone who listens to music other than what is expected. Someone who has a different cadence of speech or whose housekeeping habits differ from how they keep their workplace desk. Everyone has a secret life, that even if it is seemingly mundane, is tantalizing to someone, because hey, secrets!

And that's the goal of Dogboy & Justine, to be tantalizing -- not because "oh hey, dominatrices" although yes, this is a show about navigating and negotiating sexualities, but because it's about persona, and stepping back through a series of public and private identities to look at who people are when they're at home and then subsequently consider which of our many individual lives we ultimately really want to live in.

I am, myself, a lot of different people. Y'all know that. I've had a lot of careers, chronologically and concurrently. I'm a girl, I'm a boy, I'm timid, and I am telling you right here and right now that anything is possible. I used to be paid, like the women of Dogboy & Justine to give people permission. And it took me going to a master class taught by an artist I admire to feel like I had permission to take the next step with this project, even if the message there was actually that the very idea of permission is a lie.

So here I am, several times a day, both saying "Fuck you all, we're putting on a show" and also down on my knees letting you know that, "Hey, without your $5, we don't actually have the logistical permission to make this show -- at least not in the way we've got it all planned out."

So it's weird. It's complicated. It's possibly even ironic. It's certainly funny. It's a whole set of perfect circles. It's a story I totally know the ending of. It's an adventure on which I have no idea what's going to happen. It's a journey that I'm going to have to coax people along on when I'm wearing the directing hat, but also when I'm wearing the fund raising hat and the promotions hat and probably some other hats I haven't thought of yet. And it's a story -- that is, the putting on a show part of it -- that I'm going to have to keep reminding myself is rightfully mine to be a part of telling.

Because no matter how much it's gorgeous when people do give you permission -- whether you're an artist with a plan or a man emptying his wallet to be on his knees -- a big part of growing up, not just as a person, but as a creator, is accepting that in a lot of arenas permission is really just a decorative accent. And you've got a whole lot to do in the meantime, preparing for a moment, that not only may never come, but also doesn't need to.

Getting away from that permission thing is hard. It's hard for me. So I'll offer you a slightly different piece of advice, although it comes from the same place and the same journey: serve yourself. You're at least as worthy as any other master or mistress you would choose. Trust me on this one. I know what I'm talking about. Up-close and personal. Onstage and off.

[ If you've enjoyed this post, please consider pledging funds to make Dogboy & Justine a reality. We need to meet our $6,000 pledge goal by December 21st or we'll receive no funds at all from the Kickstarter process. But, if you just want to hang out around here and talk theater or link other people to this post, we really, really like that too! ]

May 2016

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