21 June, 2009

I love paris in the springtime... (finally)

Written June 12th:
My Parisian adventure—
6am train from Frankfurt to Paris.
Arrive Paris.
Find my hotel near the Voltaire stop.
I usually try to book hotels that are near my audition location, however, Paris proved one of the most expensive cities, so I booked the cheapest room with a bathroom and shower included and hoped for the best.
I arrived at the hotel a little before 11am, fully aware that I could not check in until 2. However, I had to be at the audition location at 1:30.
So- I hoped for the best. Maybe there would be a room available earlier, maybe I could at least check in, leave my things, take a SHOWER, do my hair, and look presentable!
The man behind the counter was not amused and was of no help.
-come back at noon. MAYBE one room will be ready-
Well that certainly wasn’t going to work out, since by noon I hoped to be somewhere NEAR the audition location, perhaps having some baguette et beurre and some kind of cheese slathered on top of that before the audition.
So- dressed in my jeans, with overnight bag in tow, I headed out of the hotel and up the street.
For those of you that haven’t had the most experience with booking hotels that aren’t five stars…here is the greatest tip I can give you.
IF you can’t check in to your hotel and you need a place to get ready—go to another hotel that is less than 3 stars. Know why? Because those “Pensiones” or “Hostels” or “2 star motels”, MOST likely have the option to book a room that does NOT include a bathroom and shower. What does that mean for this weary traveler in need of a shower?
I waltzed right into another hotel down the street, walked up to the 2nd floor, walked into the shower, and proceeded to get ready for the next 45 minutes—hot shower and all.
Ok, so there was no towel and the space was cramped and I forgot the transformer for my hair dryer in Frankfurt so I had to let my hair air dry—but HEY- I was clean, there was a mirror to put my makeup on, and I got a hot shower on the day of the audition instead of feeling like a zombie that just got off a train.

Next- finding a warm up room.
Well, I would SOMETIMES usually do this at my hotel (all the while feeling guilty if there was some poor jet-lagged soul in the next room—but I keep to the hours of 9:30am-7pm for singing in public places with thin walls).
So it was back out on the street again in search of—some kind of alcove to warm up in and make some noise without all of Paris gawking at me wildly.

Tip number two- warming up in strange cities when it starts to rain:
If it was NOT raining, I would have just walked to my favorite park- Place des Vosges, and sung in the shade of the tree lined pathways.
However, it started to rain. Pretty badly. And so I didn’t venture far. I had two options- a Laundromat (it was occupied by only ONE person who was reading and listening to his ipod..so I felt KINDA bad singing loudly), and option two- out of nowhere I saw a sign for “gymnasium”…yes, people pay to go into a basketball-court-like establishment and play pick up games after school. It’s not a full gym..but there are ladies and men’s dressing areas, and basically a big empty gym. With a guard at the main entrance…but NOT at the other entrances! So- in between the heavy doors and the inside doors I stood, singing on Ah, Eh, Ee, Oh, and Oo…warming up in the rain, while I’m sure passers by with umbrellas paid no attention to the strange noises from behind the doors.
When the guard finally did hear something and approached me I played the best card you can play in the hand- the stupid foreigner.
Even though I knew quite well what he was saying—Madame, you can’t stand here. I must open the doors completely—(en francais), I spoke only English, and halting English at that.
And he didn’t attempt to speak any English to me…just looked at me strangely and went back to his post.
Voila--- showered AND warmed up in a hotel that I didn’t book and a gymnasium that I don’t belong to.

Now onto the actual ‘audition’ / working session.
This was one of the coolest/strangest audition experiences I’ve had.
Without going into too much detail, I can only describe it as an actor’s workshop session…with three or four people up for each role present, group acting/miming/improvising activities all WHILE singing the arias from the production—but not in a stand-and-sing audition kind of way….
No dressing up, no announcing the aria, no thank you very much.
Just acting your center and core, and seeing if that translates into something that this very famous director wants.
I don’t know whether what I did is what he wanted..but I can say that I’ve never felt MORE connection to being the desperate mother of an abducted daughter and trying to convince a young prince to save her and restore my power and treasure.

A quick train ride back to Frankfurt, a night of frenzied packing, and a few hours later, and I’m now on the plane to the motherland to visit family and vacation for 2 weeks.

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