Athena Theatre has an “Athena Reads” series where actors cold read (meaning that they have no rehearsal whatsoever) an original script for a World Premiere Production and/or a New York Premiere Production. Athena Theatre’s next production is Tragic Greek Sitcom, which you can read about here. This past week, I read the lead role in Calvary Diner by Arlene Bozich. I happened to be on my computer when Athena Theatre’s casting notice was posted – I immediately submitted, following the submission instructions and highlighting that a Southern drawl comes naturally to me (the lead is from Alabama.) After being offered the role, I noticed that people were STILL submitting for the roles. Not only did I feel bad for the people that were taking the time to submit, but I also felt relieved that I was prepared to immediately submit (I had an industry standard headshot, website and reel. Plus, I was quick to submit.) Here is what the playwright has to say about her new piece:
“This play has been through a billion and one (maybe two) iterations. It started as a 10 minute play, then became a one act, then a two act, then (when I lost the draft I was working on) a one act again, to finally the the two act that I’m editing within an inch of its life. The piece used to start with Ruth speaking to the Lord and quoting the Bible back to Him saying, “…and the Lord shall come like a thief in the night…think about it. The Lord. A thief. I wonder what you’re coming to steal?” The internal conversation I have with myself constantly (which Ruth has with the Horsemen and God onstage thought the show) is, “What are we supposed to be preparing for?” I firmly believe that, in life, you have to work with a larger goal in mind. Smaller goals aid along the way, but unless you’re constantly improving your technique and taking small steps everyday, that larger goal will never come to light. But it all starts with choosing a goal to prep for in the first place.”
The Bechdel Group is a theater company based in NYC that requires all of its plays pass The Bechdel Test. This criteria is a part of feminist film theory and first gained attention in Alison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Basically, the play/film has to have two female characters who speak to each other about something other than their romantic relationships. This standard creates more roles for women and creates female characters with depth. The Bechdel Group, as a way to support new work, holds 24 hour writing challenges for playwrights. Then, actors cold read the pieces for a packed room of theater professionals. This was my second time reading for the theater company. Both times I have made meaningful connections. Since my first reading, I have worked with two of the playwrights who I met that evening. I heard about the readings through a friend – I connected with The Bechdel Group and signed up for their email list. From the email blasts, I saw when they were looking for actors and immediately submitted. This is particularly important as their actor slots fill up quickly – They even have a waitlist! This is another example of how being ready and timely helped me network and book gigs.