The Casting Call

Oliver is holding auditions for King Lear, the play he will be directing. Will he find any suitable actors? Not likely with this bunch...

Oliver studied the list of names running down the left side of his clipboard in silence, wondering if any of them would be worth the ink his assistant had used up recording them. Most likely not, he thought with a sigh that sank him further into his seat. Especially the third one down; with a name that long, surely she must be at least three different people?

“Next,” he said, speaking into the microphone that had been attached to the desk before him. After an elbow in the ribs and a baleful look from Tara, his assistant of the last ten years, he added, “Please.”

They watched the empty stage from their viewing station, which had been erected in the twenty-fifth row by two brothers that had been hired the day before and would never work for Oliver again. He couldn’t tell if they’d never seen a hammer or nail before or if they thought that they’d finally found the piece of wood that had killed their mother and had acted accordingly. Either way, he’d had to place his thermos of rum and coke on the floor after three failed attempts to find a level location for it on the desk.

At least, he thought as the first performer appeared from behind the curtain, the microphone hadn’t electrocuted him.

“State your name and the piece you will be performing… ow… please.”

“My name is Tyrone Talbot and I will be reading from The Cat in the Hat,” the man replied before executing a textbook bow. His shoulder length brown hair gathered around his face and then fell swishing back into position as he returned to his full height and spread his arms wide.

Oliver and Tara exchanged silent looks.

“Ah, one moment before you begin,” Oliver said with a strained smile, catching the actor just as he was taking a deep breath. “Do you mean that you’ll be performing a scene from the Dr. Seuss book?”

“Yes, of course. Is there another book by that name that I should be aware of?”

“No, certainly not. It’s just that…” Oliver turned to his assistant for help and she quickly came to the rescue.

“You do realize, Mr. Talbot, that this is a casting call for Shakespeare’s King Lear?” she asked, her black-rimmed glasses sliding down her nose as she leaned forward to speak into the microphone. A lone, long finger managed to save it just before it leaped to its death.

“That is what the ad in the paper said, yes.”

Another silent exchange.

“Well then, go on,” Oliver told him as he reached for his thermos. Sadly Tara spotted the movement and swatted his hand away. “Oh, come on! Isn’t it obvious that I’m going to need it?”

“You know the rules, Oliver,” she whispered as Tyrone began to recite his lines. “No drinking until we’re halfway through.”

“Remind me again how many actors signed up for this?”


“Oh God, I’ll never make it…”

“Hush up,” Tara said as she began to take notes on her own clipboard. Oliver suspected she was actually just doodling but chose to let it go as he turned his attention back to the stage.

Tyrone was getting quite into his audition, rushing from one side of the stage to the other and throwing in jumps and twirls as he seemed fit. He was really working up quite a sweat. If Oliver had been in a better mood, or perhaps if he’d been allowed his precious drink, he might have recommended the young man get in touch with the children’s theatre down the street.

“Did he just mispronounce playthings?” he asked.

“Yes, I believe he did,” Tara replied.

“I’ve seen enough,” Oliver said and leaned toward the microphone. “Tyrone? Could you please stand on the red X at the right of the stage? Yes, that‘s it over there.”

“Oliver…” Tara began in a warning tone but the director continued on unabated.

“Bit more to your left… there you go.” Oliver placed a steady finger over an unlabeled red button protruding from the desk, black wires dangling beneath it like spaghetti that had been burned black. “Thank you so much for coming out today but I’m afraid you’re just not quite what we’re looking for. Good day.”

With a slight smirk he let his finger fall onto the button.

Said smirk disappeared when nothing happened.

“Oliver, I was trying to tell you,” Tara said with a grimace, “I had the electrician disable the trap door this morning.”

“What the devil for?”

“The lawyers strongly recommended it; to cut down on the lawsuits and all that.”

“What utter nonsense,” Oliver muttered before once more addressing the now deeply confused Tyrone. “Get the hell off the stage already!”

Tyrone, shock transforming his handsome face into a grotesque mask, hurried back behind the curtain with an unintelligible exclamation. Oliver shook his head and tried again for his thermos, only to find that Tara had moved it out of his reach.

It was going to be a very long day.


The End

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