Nude Audition... I am Naive Sometimes

paul cram naked male actor The dictionary definition of "Naive" having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absense of sophistication. A few years ago my naive-ness reared it's head... I auditioned for a play where the role was written to be butt naked. And I didn't realize it until very late into the audition process. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The audition posting is exciting, local play seeks male actor for dramatic lead role! I fit the description well enough so I  attend the preliminary casting session. Walking into the audition room, I see several actors that I know from previous work, as well as some that I've never seen before. No surprise there. I am called in for my audition, I do my prepared monologue, answer a couple questions and then leave. I am striving not to think about how it went afterwards. I go crazy if I do, as I'll nit-pick every little word I said and was said to me.

Awkward Call Back

I get a call back. So I find myself waiting in line a few days later to read with the woman they have pre-cast in the leading woman's role. While standing there, the play's director walks out of the casting room and down the hallway past our single-file line. Apparently he is on his way to use the restroom. Maybe too much coffee? On his return he stops right in front of me, says "Paul, I am really looking forward to seeing much more of you." Pats my shoulder and walks back into his inner sanctum.


A Dim Light Bulb Flickers

That's when the two men to my left start talking about how they each were going to handle it when they take their pants off. Which doesn't register with me at first. (Actors are always getting dressed and undressed for stuff.) But wait a second. Dimly the light bulb above my head starts to sputter a little. The director's comment starts to replay in my head. "I am really looking forward to seeing more of you." Ding, ding, ding! WHAT? I turn to the two guys and ask "do you mean you are going to take your pants off in the audition room?" and they just give me weird looks and say that this is the call back for the show. Then give me another look that says I ought to be in the know somehow.

Dumb Intern? Or Me Just Being Dumb?

So I walk to the front of the line to speak with the young 20-ish intern sitting in a chair. She's got her nose deep in a romance novel. I try to keep my voice low as I ask/tell her that I am not sure if I am understanding what is required in this audition? She turns to me and raises her eyebrows and loudly says in a Well Duh! tone of voice "The play is Equus." And I just blink not knowing why it is that she is telling me the title of the play. So I say "I know the name of the play."
Oh, the looks and laughter that were shot between all of the guys in line behind me. I had no idea what it was about, until it was told bluntly to me by the intern that Equus has nudity, tons of nudity in it. I wound up leaving the audition before my call back. So the director never did get to see "more" of me. I just found it to be too odd to be asked to undress for a call back. More-so when it wasn't pointed out in the audition notice. I just don't like that kind of surprise. I suppose I could mention too that nudity doesn't bother me much, but something about this whole experience left me wanting to put on a snow suit. :)

In Defense of My Naive-ness

Walking to my car I keep thinking that even if the play is famous for it's nudity, that doesn't mean it will always be performed nude. In my opinion I think the theater ought to have not assumed that everyone auditioning would know how the play was going to be performed. Example: A good friend of mine played the role of Mrs. Kendal in The Elephant Man. Her role was originally performed with some quick flashes of topless nudity. But in her G-rated production she simply wore a flesh toned camisole. Sort of a nod to the nude effect without the nudity. 

Comments

  1. Bravo, Paul. Love that you walked away. So agree that nudity doesn't have to make the film.

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  2. Even if they wanted nudity in the play, I don't think I would have assumed undressing would be a part of the call back! Oh, auditions....and semi-creepy directors...

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    Replies
    1. Totally agree Katie Rose. Some scripts call for nudity which makes perfect sense... but having the masses undress for a call-back? haha, oh how us actors can be so naive.

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    2. As an observation: if the role requires nudity, then I would imagine that there must be some kind of idea of what the nude in question looks like? So how is a casting director going to know if the candidate is suitable? Supposing a prospective actor, looks fine with his clothes on, but if he was nude, it reveals that his I a little pudgy, perhaps he could be advised "OK, I'd like to use you but you need to lose about 10 lbs and firm up, can you do that in the 3 weeks rehearsal time?'. Or supposing he is playing a sexy Lothario, who has to strip off, sorry to burst anybody's bubble, but if he somewhat under average endowed, the audience is going to notice and simply put he will not be convincing. Supposing it's a shower scene in a locker room, if he doesn't look like an athlete who will be convinced?

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