The second round of auditions for my play, Woman on the Scarlet Beast, came two weeks after the first. Though the director, Cassandra Schwanke, thought we had found our leading lady in the earlier audition, I wasn’t so sure. The woman she favored was too young. Somewhere, there had to be a 40-something actresses suitable for the part and I said as much in an e-mail. Fortunately, fate stepped in. The actress Cassandra preferred had been offered a series of television commercials and was no longer available. A new cast call had been set and I drove to the theater with my fingers were crossed. Besides needing a replacement for the leading lady, we still had no villain.
The afternoon was cold but not rainy so I found the theater’s new location with no difficulty. It was housed inside a church, a large, red brick structure with an ample parking lot beside it. Entering the hallway, which was long and dark, my footsteps echoed as if I were crossing an ancient catacomb. For several minutes, I saw no one nor heard any voices. Then I turned a corner and came upon a cluster of people, some of them shivering as I was because, apparently, the heat had been turned off in the building. Cassandra’s back was to me as I approached but I could hear her instructions for how the auditions would proceed. When she was finished, I tapped her shoulder to let her know I had arrived and together we entered the room where the readings would be held. I was pulling my coat tight around me when a man and a women came through the door. Without hearing either of them speak, I knew by their appearance and demeanor that we had found our leading lady and our villain in a single pairing. Tension drained from my body but there was still the uncertainty. Would Cassandra agree? She hadn’t signed on to my choice for the grandmother during the last set of tryouts.
As I had expected, a new women did appear to read the grandmother’s part. She was excellent and I could find no reason to quarrel with Cassandra’s choice. Later I learned that this new recruit was a well-known Portland actress with a large following. Her presence in the play would draw an audience and so I came to understand my director’s opposition to the actress I had initially wanted.
By the end of a 3-hour audition, our choice of a cast was nearly complete. The part of the 18 year-old daughter was a toss-up between two actresses. Which one Cassandra would choose, I didn’t know but I left the theater confident that either young woman would perform well. Driving home, I felt happy. I had a strong line-up of actors for my play and as to the villain, I was ecstatic. I had found my Iago.