My "Give-A-Damn" May be broken
Ok, so I decided after almost 30 years of being away from the stage. . .which I loved so much but willingly gave up when I moved out to L.A. . . .I decided last year to return to the stage at the prompting of my daughters. It's honestly been a struggle to get my voice back in shape and lose some weight--let's face it, I got lazy. . . and fat--but I digress. Anyway, as I have come back to the stage, I realized that the audition process hasn't changed a whole lot (and I'll talk about that in a different blog) AND the competition hasn't gotten any easier.
I currently attempt to pursue as many auditions as I can. Being one's own manager and agent means that I have to work on my own personal promotion, booking and record-keeping as well as kicking my own backside into gear to work. On Monday of this week, I booked an audition for the play Thoroughly Modern Millie to be performed this summer here in L.A. My youngest daughter and I booked a late audition (after 10 pm) and when we arrived, we found that we were the last ones to actually audition. Personally, I prefer either going first or dead last because if I'm first then I'm done with the audition and if I'm last then I've had the chance to size up the "competition". My daughter went and did a fabulous job singing--a Capella, mind you, because the accompanist had already left for the night--and then dancing too. She picks up almost any form of dance fairly quickly which is a cool thing to watch.
Then it was my turn to generate a little bit of buzz. I think that my "give-a-damn" must've been broken that night because I came prepared for my audition with props and a choice song. Allow me to explain what I mean about my "give-a-damn" being broken. There is probably innate within most rational and reasonable human beings a "switch" that keeps us from mouthing off too much or getting ourselves into too much trouble. It's the same "switch" or "filter" that looks at people and keeps us from doing silly and insane things because we are "concerned" about what other people may think of us. We actually "give-a-damn" about how we look or what we wear or what others think. Monday night, mine wasn't functioning at all. Here's why I say that: I said that I came prepared for my audition with props and a choice song, right? Since I know that in this particular musical and theatre company I didn't have a chance for the lead actor's role (a particularly cool guy who is somewhat younger than I am) I decided to try out for a great character role, one that I had auditioned for at another theatre without success. This role is a Chinese character named Bun Foo. My challenge is that I'm white, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed. . .not your typical Chinese-looking actor. I came in and introduced myself and prepared to sing a Capella. With music in hand, I grabbed my Chinese hat and put it on before putting on a pair of Chinese-eyed glasses. Yes, it was the silliest audition I've ever performed before as I sang The Siamese Cat Song from Disney's Lady and the Tramp. And yes, probably the most racist, but it worked to perfection. I didn't really care what I looked like or sounded like but I had fun plus I made the producer and musical director laugh. The next day, I received a phone call inviting me to the callback. And that's another story for another blog but needless to say, I didn't get that part this time but I did garner some welcomed attention.
Sometimes, as actors, we have to stop being concerned about what we look like and think others think about us. We have to, at times, allow our "give-a-damn" to be broken so we can fully put ourselves out there. The lesson that I'm learning is to stop living life so safely and put yourself out there. It isn't easy, whatever you may do but just do it. I guarantee that in the long run you will feel better about yourself and really isn't that all worth it?
My advice to you is simply this, no matter what part you are going for, allow your "give-a-damn" to be broken even for just a moment in order to be the silliest, best person you can be. Who knows? You might even just get the role. Invest in yourself, believe in yourself, because you are enough!
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Jeffrey Loewen is a recent actor in self-exile who has decided to return to the stage after nearly 30 years of working behind the scenes. His return to the theatre began in 2014 at the Louise K. Taylor Performing Arts Center in Monrovia, CA as Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz and was followed up with the role of Mr. Alonso Smith for Meet Me In St. Louis. He has performed in several productions in the St. Louis and Chicago area in the 1980’s including Carousel, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, Wait Until Dark, The Music Man, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Julius Caesar, and Showboat. Having studied theatre at Judson College (now Judson University) in Elgin, IL and worked with several acting repertoires, Jeffrey has been transplanted to the LA area for almost 30 years where he has worked behind the scenes writing, directing, producing, costuming, designing sets and doing lights and camera in his spare time. He describes himself as a storyteller, actor, singer as well as an announcer for several different venues including synchronized swimming and pageants. First and foremost a husband (for over 27 years) and the father of four daughters—three of whom have worked on stage with dad and a fourth who is studying cinema at Azusa Pacific University. He can currently be seen in the Glendale Centre Theatre's Children's Production of Cinderella.