Sunday, July 5, 2009


The circus has come early to town. With elections still almost a year away, some have jumped the gun. They’re already out, everyday, on various media, but more commonly on television. Infomercials, talk shows, some are seen peddling themselves even on programs supposedly devoted to the glory of God.
Politics. It’s that time of the year, still almost a year before the elections, when the lines get blurred, are often crossed , strange alliances are formed, whatever’s convenient, whatever they believe can fuel their political ambitions.

Watching television one morning, I was asked by the screen who’s going to be this city’s congressman next year, and a silhouette of a man tried to give me a clue. In certain local tv programs, they’ve started addressing themselves by the positions they are hoping we’d place them in next year. It’s one thing to announce one’s ambitions, it’s another to blatantly start campaigning way before the official campaign period. In the world of track and field, that’s a false start. That would mean the clock would have to be reset and everyone would have to take it from the top, including those who were playing it by the rules. Another false start and it’s back to the starting line again. Do it again and you’re out of the race. That makes sense – you don’t play by the rules, you’re out. For if you can’t follow the rules, how can you be expected to make rules? If you can’t follow the rules, how can you be expected to implement rules?

I’m in the middle of directing a play right now, and when auditions were held, I asked the applicants fairly simple questions, which some of them found quite hard to answer. I only have one vote, I know, but that one vote is asking, just as I asked those who auditioned for our production: Are you a good actor?

This always catches prospective actors off-guard, but in this case, I ask, what is it that you actually do and are you good at it? And are you good at it NOW? Don’t tell me to cast you in a play first and then you’ll try your best later on to be the best you can. I want to know if you’re good now, and if you’re not yet, then come back when you already are. You’re selling a product: YOU. Don’t make promises, for if you’re a vacuum cleaner, I’d like to see you suck out dirt now, before I make the purchase, and not later. I’ve made that mistake before – I’ve cast an actor who promised to commit to a production who later on abandoned the play for a bigger gig; I’ve voted for someone who abandoned his campaign promise within a few days after taking his oath of office.

What productions have you done in the past? In this case, I ask, what have you done in the past that would somehow convince me that you’re the best among the rest and that the role you wish to play can only be played best by you and nobody else?

How do you plan to approach the role you are auditioning for? What are your thoughts about the role? What do you think does it take to successfully portray the character? In this case, I ask, how do you plan to accomplish the tasks required by the position you’re aspiring for? Let me know so I can decide if it can be effective and efficient and is in line with what I believe this city needs right now.

If I give you the role, can you fully commit to the production, from day one to opening night? For I don’t want to have to fire you in the middle of the production when you start being absent from or coming in late for rehearsals. In this case, I ask, can you fully commit yourself to the demands of the position you’re aspiring for? And that you won’t hold back, won’t let anything and anyone get in the way of your performance? Because this time, we'll fire you if your performance is not up to par, or better.

And lastly, why did you come here to audition? Theater does not offer huge financial rewards, why are you auditioning at all? You will have to spend quite a lot getting to and from rehearsals every single night, meals and snacks during rehearsals, you will have to commit so much of your time and energy to this production, plus you will also have to do a significant amount of work outside the regular rehearsal hours, all of that for some chump change, why do you think it’s worth it? In this case, I ask, you are entering politics, you wish to be elected, you must have money, whatever it is you do now. Why are you willing to spend so much more than you’ll ever earn LEGALLY being in whatever position you’re aspiring for?

What are your intentions?

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