The DCH Diaries: The Audition - Part One

Ewing OK, so I’m just a Level 3. Nothing special. I’ve got a ways to go before I even finish this series of classes. So, when I learned that Ewing auditions are open to lowly Level 3 students, I was excited and trepidatious (a word I had not heard in a long time until last night’s LYLAS show. Improv can be educational, too.)

Ewing Teams are troupes formed through an audition process judged by experienced improvisers and Dallas Comedy House Training Center faculty members. Typically the process produces two troupes, each with eight or nine members. Those troupes spend a month in rehearsal with a coach, then perform on Thursday nights at 9:30 for eight weeks. Basically, it means more stage time, professional coaching, and maybe even the beginnings of a honest-to-goodness troupe.

But for me, like so much of this improv journey, Ewing involved a step into the unknown. You see, I have never auditioned for anything in my life. Ever. I have never done anything remotely like an audition -- unless you count piano recitals, which don’t count because at those everybody is required to at least act like they like you. Heck, I had never even tried out for a sports team.

But, since I am all about the “experience,” and I have resolved to take everything from this improv adventure that I can (all the while baring my fears and triumphs for all my loyal blog readers), the decision to throw my hat into the audition pool was a no-brainer. Well, it was a brainer, but I figured I had nothing personally to lose and everything to gain on behalf of those of you who might consider a run at it next time.

About 35 of us showed up at the theater that Saturday afternoon. There is no preparing for the audition beyond the practice we receive in class or at the Tuesday Jams and a certain command of the fundamentals. But, we were required to complete a fact sheet. It had three main questions: Why do you want to be on a Ewing team?; what can you bring to a Ewing team?; and the fun one: something about who you’d like to go on a date with, where you’d go, and a direction to “draw the date.”

Milling around the bar, I was surprised at how anxious I felt. I didn’t really expect anything to come of my first audition, green as I am. I was doing it for the experience, right? But then, I also knew that being picked was not out of the realm of possibility. Maybe I wanted this more than I had thought.

Amanda Austin counted us into four groups, and as luck would have it, before we could even warm up she called my group. At least I wouldn’t have to stew in the bar. In the theater, she invited us to take the stage. Our only audience were the four judges on which our Ewing fate rested.

Amanda explained that she would call out two people at a time, give us a one word suggestion and edit us. After we’d all taken a turn, we would go around again with a different scene partner. Great, I thought, that part will be easy. No decisions on when to step out and less pressure to fashion an initiation out of whole cloth. All I had to do was nail the scene.

Then, before I had a chance to get complacent, she called my name.

Next up: The Audition, Part Deux

Carron Armstrong is currently in Level 3 and has been obsessed with improv and DCH ever since she discovered that someone can actually take classes to learn this stuff. She is currently negotiating to purchase the naming rights for the brand new stairs added to ease access to the stages of DCH’s Main Street theaters (Thank you, Amanda and Kyle). During the day, she’s a lawyer.