Friday, January 21, 2011

Reservoir Bitches

I was hanging out with Em and drove her to an audition in Hollywood for a role in a theater production of "Reservoir Bitches", an all female version of Reservoir Dogs.

On the back of her headshot, it says, "Love to get bloody, dirty and/or play dead!" She only really wanted the role of the cop who gets his ear cut off. Kind of a waste, she is such a great actress. Once, she described a trial she sat on jury for and played all the characters with accents. It was better than television.

We entered this dumpy little playhouse on La Brea and Sunset, right next to my ganja doctor, actually, but snug in a smaller strip mall over a laundromat and a liquor store.

The entrance is a short, narrow hallway lined with old movie seats and burgundy wallpaper. It definately has this Southern brothel feel. In the corner, there is a door that opens into a small black room you might call a stage. There are only two rows of seats for an audience of about 20 shaped like an L around the stage.

We sat down and Em grabbed the one monologue all actresses were to perform for their audition.

Mr. Pink, "Hey, I'm very sorry the government taxes their tips. That's fucked up. But that ain't my fault. It would appear that waitresses are just one of the many groups that government fucks in the ass on a regular basis. I mean, you show me a paper that says the government shouldn't do that, I'll sign it. Put it to a vote, I'll vote for it. But what I won't do is play ball. And this non-college bullshit you're giving me. I got two words for that: 'Learn to fucking type.' Cause if you're expecting me to help out with the rent, you're in for a big fucking surprise."

Em did it first as Mr. Pink/Steve Buscemi. Then she did it as a Minnesota housewife. Then she did it as a stubborn Russian. I am telling you, the girl is a fucking great actress. I was laughing my ass off in there, everyone turned to look at us. I don't know what to say, those girls didn't have a chance.

I left because I had a shift at the Doggie Daycare. She called me later and said she did the whole monologue as a cop being held hostage and tortured. Fucking brilliant, girl! She got the part.

The monologue kind of stuck with me and I thought, I really should do a theater production just for some Hollywood street cred. So I asked her to tell the director if anyone dropped out, could I audition. Mr. Orange was open for a brief window, but I had shit shifts at the Doggie Daycare so I missed it.

Then I was invited to come in and read for Jolie, the crime boss. This is better; less lines and a little less responsibility.

The director, lets call him Mitchell, is a tall, stupid boy in his early twenties who wears the same blue, camoflauge pants everyday. He's African-American and could be cute if he closed his mouth and got some light behind his eyes. He doesn't enunciate his already low voice, so you find yourself straining your neck to understand him.

Mitchell came in and mistook a few actresses by name and role. I noticed practically everyone in the room that first day of auditions had a part.

Mitchell, "Sorry if I am mixing everyone up. Maybe its the hair color . . . and height. How was everyone's weekend?"

Silence.

Mitchell, "Sorry if I sound boring. I haven't slept or eaten. (sticks his tongue out to reveal a wad of gum). This is my only meal today. Cast party last night frickin' sucked . . . cause after 30 minutes, everyone started leaving."

Silence.

Mitchell, "So, yeah. Many of you may notice the floors are dirty and the bathroom stinks. Cause there was a girl that wasn't . . . conditioned to drinking, lets just say."

Girl playing Evie (Female version of Nice Guy Eddie), "Its bad. Its smells like vomit in there. I could barely open the door. And there's no toilet paper, either."

Mitchell, "I had three rolls but someone stole them."

Silence. We all checked our purses for kleenex and napkins.

Mitchell, "Ok, sorry if anyone tried to call me today. Nobody is picking up the theater phone. The battery is dead and I forgot to charge it."

My expectations were never high for this place, but the smell of expelled stomach acid was burning the lower rim of my nostrils. This theater was fucking rank.

We did the opening diner scene. Taratino's famous monologue about Madonna's song "Like a Virgin."

Playing Tarantino is like waking up to find you have super powers. You feel smarter, you feel tougher and you feel as funny as Rodney Dangerfield.

Me, "(to Ms. Brown) He don't tip ... (to Ms. Pink) what do you mean you don't tip?"

Ms. Brown, "He don't believe in it."

Me, "(to Ms. Brown) SHUT UP! (to Ms. Pink) What'd'ya mean you don't believe in it?"

I felt like James Gandolfini up there and it was awesome.

Ms. Pink, "She don't make enough money, she can quit."

Evie, "I don't even know a fuckin' Jew who'd have the balls to say that."

Ms. Brown (out of character), "Um . . . are we saying Jew?" All the "niggers" and "coons" were replaced.

I raise my hand, "I have a Jewish boyfriend and he would be ok with it." I chuckle.

Mitchell, "Oh . . . (to me) Yes?"

Me, "Oh . . . nothing. I am just smiling."

Mitchell, "No one has ever said that to me before."

After the scene, I saw possibility for a different feminist spin on the story. Waitresses, dicks, friendship, revenge, trust. Who wouldn't be eager to hear what the director had to say?

Mitchell, "Ok, I am only gonna say this once. See the movie. See . . . the movie. See . . . the . . . movie. It will answer 80% of your questions. Now, moving on."

Wait, that was it? See the movie? That's his direction? He is really just doing a straight, unimaginative, nothing different but guy to girl, adaptation. I mean . . . um.

He barely said a word throughout rehearsal, but did try to tell us how the blocking worked since he directed the play twice before.

Mitchell always snorts a low laugh before mumbling a joke.

In the middle of blocking a wrestling scene with Ms. Blonde and Evie, he says (snort) "Calm down, Mitchell! Don't get too excited!"

I looked up and met Em's eyes immediately. Oh yeah, we are going to enjoy ripping this guy apart.

After rehearsal, he welcomed me and the new Ms. Orange to the cast.

Then, Mitchell said, "As far as costume goes, we don't want to see any of this. (he panned his hand across his crotch) Ok? (low snort) At least not initially. Make sure everything up here (panned his hand across his chest) doesn't fall out."

Silence.

Mitchell, "Also, no G-strings. Let me say that again, no . . . g-strings."

Ms. Brown, "Huh? But why? We are wearing pants the whole time."

Mitchell, immediately and with authority, "Not worth the risk. Unless you want to show your vertical smichq that's up to you."

Me, "Excuse me, my vertical what? Smirk?"

Mitchell, slowly and clearly, "SMILE. Yes, your vertical smile."

Me, "Oh. Vagina."

Mitchell, "You want the audience remembering the important things. I talk to them afterwards when something like this happens. Like, 'Hey Man, what did you think of the fight scene? The acting?' and they just say, 'Naw, just saw tits.' I want people to focus on your acting. Be professional, ladies."

Was he really dictating what type of underwear we wear and then asking us to be professional?

Mitchell, "Some women like to wear fish nets. Those ... are ok."

Ms. White, "You can't see fishnets with pants on!"

Mitchell, "Well, some women like to wear fishnets with short shorts. What ever you ladies do with your costume, is yours to play with . . . just keep in mind, it has to be a version of black suite, white shirt, black tie."

How original.

Evie's hand raised, "Can we keep alcohol backstage?"

Mitchell, "No, I don't want anyone drunk for the performance."

Evie, "What if its just a little something to get us going."

Welcome to Hollywood Theater.

The next few rehearsals, we got a little less polite with him. Some of the grievances are as follows:

- We have to buy our own costume. Ms. Blonde (who has a blood filled condom explode in her bra during the last act will have to buy 4 versions of her costume)

- We have to buy our own props (police badges, holsters, anything) He has nothing but the guns because "the girls walk off with it."

-We are solely responsible for all promotion of the play including print and distribution of fliers

- In case it wasn't obvious, we are not paid and expected to go to 3 out 5 rehearsals a week. This is reasonable if we went over the scenes involving the cast members able to attend that day. Instead, we always start from the beginning of the script while Mitchell reads for the missing characters. (he really wants to be an actor)

-The cost of admission is $20. If they mention our name at the door, its $15. I don't care how much someone loves me, I would not expect anyone I know to find street parking off of Sunset Blvd and fork over $15 in a recession to see our play.

Spirits were low until we all went out for a couple drinks before seeing the previous cast's last performance of Reservoir Bitches. It was a vent session in a dark bar. I was quiet, high as a kite and couldn't muster a real criticism for Mitchell because I didn't trust anyone but Em quite yet.

We entered the playhouse at 8pm on the dot; Ms. Pink, Ms. White, Ms. Brown, Evie, Em and me. As each of us walked in, we got a nose full rancid asshole. I mean, it was foul. Walking in, I masked my mouth and nose, spotting Mitchell off the side washing his hands. What does he store in his asshole? I think it might still be alive ... and suffering.

Evie: "Ew"

Em: "Oh My God!"

Me: "Disgusting."

Abe: "Hey dude, do you want me to get some incense from out of my car?"

Abe disappeared for 10 minutes while we waited for the play to start. The smell of Mitchell's ass was creeping in to the stage area from the lobby.

Evie, "Fuck this! I am bringing little candles while I perform here. I just can't handle this."

A little piece of burning incense appeared from the lighting booth (stationed between the lobby and the stage) and I thought, "The play was held up because Abe ran back to get some incense."

Abe entered the stage area and sat next to me, "Any other problems I can fix?"

Lights went down and the play started. Jolie was an older woman, playing the role like a mother of teenage girls. Pink was an Asian girl shaking her leg and biting her nails. You know . . . not really gimmicky, stereoptyical hot girls and nothing narratively unique, but decent actresses. Ms. Blonde was played by a gorgeously androgenous, tall, thin Russian whose perfectly gelled, super short, bleach blonde hair made the character.

I couldn't take my eyes off her. I thought, she has that thing, that magic . . . you want to watch her. The other girls were good with their characters, even skilled in parts, but it was never Tim Roth practicing the Commode story or Steve Buscemi digging in Harvey Keital. Sometimes you've got the magic, and sometimes you don't. Its not yours to hold on to, but when you tap into it- it is the dream.

After the show, the two sets of Reservoir Bitches mingled.

Their Ms. Blue, "Mitchell isn't going to direct you, so you are going to have to push him. Keep him involved. When we tried directing ourselves, things got real catty."

Our Ms. White, "Oh, well, we aren't the catty type."

Evie, "Give it a chance, honey."

No comments:

Post a Comment