Chapter Four: The Audition
“Meg, give me a pen. I didn’t bring mine.”
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
“I said Rex Harrison not Rhett Butler, idiot!” said Jen angrily and snatched the pen from the irritating Meg.
“So did you see your ancient Romeo after that day. Probably he didn’t get the job or you saw him on the day he was retiring.” said she giggling, and got a severe glare from Jen.
Meg was so maddening at times. She would go on and on with her endless jokes. It was incredibly hard to think her capable of being rational or reasonable at times.
Jen had quite recovered and if you thought of it, what Meg said may be true. Maybe the fellow hadn’t got the job after all and why should she want him to. She wasn’t as delirious about him now, anyway. He was a handsome fellow she had fancied him like the one or two before him which didn’t amount to much, as usual and college was really quite absorbing.
She had had quite a lot of things to do, so many enrolments. Just the previous day, she had dragged Meg forcibly and joined them both in the drama club. The auditions were at 03:00. She had heard from the other students that the teacher in charge was always very expectant, in fact, the college prided themselves over their drama club. You had to be quite good and entirely devoted to be able to join it. There would be practices till 6 or 7 sometimes and the teachers themselves were quite brusque and harsh, no honeyed words. Not a place for the sensitive either. Only the very best among the staff were in charge of the club, it seemed and they had pretty high standards too. Jen was quite nervous about it, she was not very thick skinned either. She had rehearsed within herself how she would react should she receive slighting comments or rejection and was still not sure if she would create a drama or not but she had given her name and she would go to the auditions, no matter what, she told herself courageously. Meg couldn’t be less bothered about it, in fact, she was hoping she would get rejected. She was such a lazy little idiot, she just wanted to skate through life. Jen had grown quite fond of her friend. She was a sturdy and trustworthy soul despite her childishness and mockery, she was someone who would stand by you and for you. She was incredibly bright too but not as passionate about English as Jen was. Meg had only chosen English Literature because she wanted to relax a bit, and by that, do nothing. She was lively and brisk, a lot like Divya, her hostel friend. Both of them just couldn’t understand why Jen was so paranoid about everything, they couldn’t because, Jen was like that. She had no family and no outdoor fun available and she was filled with a sort of ecstasy for she thought that everything was going well for her and she wanted to make the best of her life right now. She just hoped the drama club too would fit in with the rest of her life and all would go well.
“Hey Meg, you nervous?”
“About the audition”.
“Who said I’m coming darl?”
Jen just smiled full of meaning in reply and Meg later found herself trudging wearily and grudgingly alongside Jen trying to find the drama club auditorium. If you were a nature lover or a poet by profession, you could sit and marvel at the lush and vast grounds sprawling so majestically as it basked in all it’s natural glory and beauty but trying to find a place in the college was such a nightmare. You kept losing your way and finding yourself walking through neglected solitary winding pathways and arriving at the same place you started at. They had to ask a lot of people to find the place.
They both just wanted to collapse but summoned the will to go inside. There, they met a couple of girls and struck up a conversation with them. It was a lovely place. It had plush red seats situated like an arch around the auditorium which went down in steps. The stage was huge and arch shaped. They couldn’t see inside it for it was concealed with rich crimson curtains drawn together. Besides the four, the place was practically empty. Jen thought if was funny that for a college so proud of it’s drama club, only four out of a total of 8000 were interested and wondered how the staff could afford to be so picky.
“Attention. If you could please step out onto the stage, we can start the audition” said a loud sharp voice suddenly.
When they turned from their discourse, Jen gasped and Meg too, understood immediately.
How different he looked now. On his sharp nose was seated a thin, black rimmed spectacles and he held a file in his hands. His face was stern, almost angry. And having given this short message on a microphone, he crisply turned around. Sharp steps echoed all over the auditorium and soon, he had seated himself with a whisk of his raven black suit.
Jen was filled with a mixture of emotions. On one hand was unspotted, overflowing joy at seeing him and on the other, nervousness apprehension and incredible shyness. The last thing she wanted to do was show herself down in front of him.
Jen edged way back and stood noiseless as the other two rushed over to the back stage to prepare. Only Meg stayed back.
She did not say anything, no taunts, no teasing. She just gave such a compassionate smile full of understand and holding Jen’s hand led her along, backstage.
“It’s okay. You’re gonna do fine. You owe me a treat Ms. Jennifer Brett” and gave her a playful nudge.
Suddenly a shrill bell went off. Everyone looked at one another, praying someone else would step out. Finally someone did.
“Georgianna” came a breathless reply.
“Good! Why don’t you try reading this script”.
There was a pause for about 2 go 3 minutes while Jen slowly edged around the corner to stay in such a place where she could see him.
He put his fingers together and bowed down his head.
He wouldn’t be so harsh, she thought to herself.
Then came the hesitant clearing of the throat after which the speaker launched full force into a heated dialogue furnished with modulations and expressions and pauses and emotions. It was going well enough till there came a sudden hush. The speaker had faltered out of shyness.
“Enough. Sorry to say that you have not been selected” came the mechanical reply.
The reader was obviously distraught and she stood frozen for about a second or so before finally reviving her wits. She quietly stepped backstage and started sobbing loudly.
“Next” came the dreaded voice again.
The other girl was so astounded that she didn’t know what to do but she too stepped onto the plat form and took the sheet from the table and started to read. There was no such mistake like before except the voice was very inexpressive and dull.
“Rejected. Next” came the voice again.
Meg took a deep breath and Jen suddenly threw her arms around her.
“Come on Meg. We don’t need to do this. Let us go” and she tugged at her hand but Meg held her back.
“This isn’t the day you get to see my waterworks sweetie, besides, I wanna meet your fair gentleman, don’t I?” she said, winking.
“Hello sir. My name is Meghna and I...”
“Excellent. Your sheet’s on the table. Begin” came the curt interruption.
Meg smiled and confidently strode over to the table and picked it up. She walked back to the centre of the stage and began her dialogue.
Jen had never seen Meg like that. She looked so at ease and graceful. Everything about her seemed comfortable, her stance, her posture, even her facial expressions. There was absolutely no nervousness. When she finished, Jen involuntarily felt like clapping and eagerly prepared herself to hear the elaborate commendations.
“Selected. Next.” was all she heard instead.
Meg, as she came down the stairs again cast Jen an overjoyed look and Jen felt happy too. She did not care what happened anymore and with a resolve, she’d never known, she got onto the stage.
To her delight, she saw his lips drop apart a little and he gave a mild look of surprise. But by the next instant, he had composed himself and with a flourish of his hand, indicated the paper.
Her heart leapt hard against her chest and her fingers clutched her shirt in an effort to calm herself but as soon as she began, she did not notice anything else. She felt inspired and able and savoured every work and found herself, moving freely and using a bold and natural voice. Some words, she could relate to, and she used all her pent up emotions to refine them. Her breath came and went in elated rhythms and her lips moved without any pretention. And when she had completed, she felt a little disappointed that the end had come so soon and with an expectant face, she looked up at her judge.
For a moment, he seemed quite moved and pensive and Jen fidgeted happily, assured of his approval and maybe, even his appreciation.
“I do not know what to say” he finally said and Jen grinned a wholesome grin at him.
“I shall have to put you on the waiting list at present. You can help around the stage and absorb and learn from the players and gradually, you can try it too” he said coolly.
She was completely taken aback and stared shocked and furious at him.
And then he gave a dry chuckle of a laugh and said apologetically.
“The look on your face.”
“Madam” he added, with a slight rise of his eyebrows.
“Selected. You may leave.”