The week began uneventfully; I had four classes that semester, and no specific major in mind as of yet, and so I dove into each subject with polarized levels of interest. My lack of directed focus meant that I had to begin fulfilling core requirements (as per the tenets of a liberal arts education), and so I had grudgingly enrolled in an introductory biology class. I could not wrap my head around most things related to math and science, so the class seemed, to put it mildly, endless and hellish.
It was also my first class on Tuesday mornings, which did nothing to add to its appeal. I walked into the lecture hall, nervously surveying the large number of unfamiliar faces. Many students scrambled to get into these core courses during the selection lottery, so different years were represented throughout the classroom. As had been my custom during the first two weeks of classes, I walked quickly toward the back of the room and settled down beside two girls who looked vaguely familiar.
“Hi,” I said, smiling brightly to hide any sort of social discomfort. “Did you guys do the reading?”
The slim, reddish-blonde girl sitting nearest to me turned and looked up, smiling back. I thought her name was Courtney. “Absolutely not. I literally have no idea what’s going on. Did you do it?”
I hadn’t. I shook my head, laughing tentatively. Our mutual capacity for slacking off in the this class had created some kind of bond. I decided to make the most of this new connection.
“Honestly, this class is so boring. And I was too busy recovering from Saturday to get much work done,” I rolled my eyes, hinting at a weekend that was much more exciting than what it had been.
“Oh, did you go out this weekend? Where did you go?” Courtney leaned toward me, and her friend glanced over curiously.
I described my adventurous foray into the partying population, conveniently skipping Will’s last-minute letdown. Even in the retelling, I felt myself brimming with the confidence of a girl transitioning into a new persona; I was Amy, college student, unafraid of meeting new people and totally open to the taste of beer. Courtney was nodding and smiling along with everything I said, so I figured I was finally fitting in with the norm for college students. I left off with my miraculous lack of hangover, conveniently forgetting that I was supposed to have been recovering throughout to day on Sunday.
“Your weekend sounds like ours,” said Courtney, gesturing to her friend. “I know we met last week, but I’m Courtney. This is Lyra. I’m so sorry, but what’s your name again?”
“I’m Amy, and no worries. I’m horrible at remembering names,” I laughed, leaning down to pull my notebook out of my bag. Class was about to start.
“We should all go out together this weekend! I’ll get your number after class,” Courtney turned to face the front of the room.
“Definitely.” Entry into the party scene, it turns out, is conducive to friendship. Good to know.
I had decided to audition for the freshman plays. I had some previous acting experience, and I knew from my multiple extra-help sessions with teachers in high school that I was a very good liar, so I thought the plays might be something worthwhile. The auditions were being held in a little black box theatre just off campus, so I had a long walk during which my anxiety built. I had started the commute full of confidence, brimming with that sense of entitlement. By the time I pushed through the doors of the theatre, my palms were cold and sweaty and my every motion had a sort of twitchy quality.
The doors opened into a small waiting room, or maybe it was a lobby. The room was painted in several shades of green and purple, and musty-looking carpet covered the floor. Students, all freshmen, were sprawled across every surface. There must have been thirty or more people there; everyone was reading at each other, talking so loudly that all of the words jumbled together. On one side of the room, two students were gesticulating in an exaggerated way that suggested that a fist fight was about to occur. I forgot just how dramatic these theatre kids could be.
Confronted once again by a sea of only vaguely-familiar faces, I was relieved to hear my name being called from a far corner of the small room. Courtney waved at me, a few pages of script in one hand. I walked over to her, glad to have an excuse not to find my own place or make eye contact with anyone in the room.
“I’m so glad you’re here! Want to read with me? This play has two female sides.” Courtney handed me a script.
I glanced over the page, taking in the overall tone and noting the moments of declarative punctuation. I nodded, and we began reading through the scene. Cold reading came naturally to me, despite my nerves. Camilla was struggling a little bit, but we made it all the way through.
“Are we supposed to sign in somewhere, or do they just tell us when to go?” I asked, glancing around the room to see what everyone else was doing.
“We sign in. The sheet’s over there.”
I stood up and walked over to where the sign in sheet lay on the counter. As I bent to pick up the pen, I caught a vague whiff of spearmint. Not wanting to look up, I finished scrawling my name and my College-assigned email address, and then turned around. Jake stood leaning against the adjacent wall, one arm braced behind him and the other cradling a script. A short, chubby girl was pacing in front of him and yelling lines at a strange cadence that she clearly thought translated into first-rate drama. Inwardly, and inexplicably, I rolled my eyes and walked back to Courtney.
After three or four more read-throughs, Courtney and I were called in to read for the directors and their stage managers. There were four plays being cast, and each was to be directed by a student. Courtney and I stumbled through our first read; one of the directors, who was apparently taking the lead for the casting process, asked us to switch parts, and then directed us to wait out in the lobby.
“How do you think it went?” Asked Courtney, dropping her script on a stool beside the door to the lobby.
“Ugh. So sorry about that one line. Apparently I’m illiterate under dim lighting,” we both giggled, then plopped down in our earlier spot.
“Whatever. It’s just freshmen plays,” said Camilla, shrugging. She looked up. “Hey, Jake!”
Jake was standing across the room, silently reading over the script in his hand. His dramatically-inclined partner appeared to have run off. He gave Courtney a small smile and a nod, and then gestured to the paper in his hand to indicate that he was busy. I chose to ignore the interaction.
Before long, one of the directors came out to announce that they wanted to try new pairings. He read off a list of names, and each set of partners found each other, grabbed a script, and went off to rehearse. My heart thudded. Why did auditions make me so nervous?
“Amy and Jake, please read from script three.”