Acting in Awe

By | 1 November 2019

The phone kept ringing & even though I was holding
scissors to cut the cord it only took three more slow rings
for me to become defenceless, cloaking my dressing gown
over my shoulders as I announced myself into the mouthpiece.
It was not my manager but his desperate voice,
a role reversal we were both uncomfortable playing.
There was a film casting that evening & after last year’s excesses
I still owed him, plus the favours he had done in order to obtain
my new number & address. As this was communicated, we slid
back into our usual dynamic, hope leaching from my body
& dampening the floor. I scuffed my new patent leather shoes
trying to find the location of the casting studio on time.
I finally found the two-storey brick building — vertical metal
blinds, opening slightly after I knocked several times. I pinched
the side of my neck & rolled my shoulders back.
Although I had passed a public restroom on my way to the audition,
I skipped the opportunity as my manager advised that my performance
required an expression of concern & I needed to look authentic.
A man answered the door & greeted me in the redundant
way to which I have become accustomed. As I walked up the stairs
& into the allocated room, he explained that there were no lines
in my role, that it was very image dependent. Each facial muscle
was vital to convey the exact point of view the writer/director
had envisaged while on a mountain retreat decades ago. The gaze
they were seeking was to be so commanding, that the climax
of the film would rely upon my precise expression. After this explanation
the writer/director rose from his chair, smoothed down the gathered
creases of his grey suit & suggested a prop be introduced to assist
me with this assignment. From behind the pillows on a cream leather
couch the writer/director presented a fuchsia-coloured canine harness
& slipped my head through the nylon neck piece. I raised my arms
as the bottom straps were pulled down past my chest & over my stomach,
the top straps arranged across my back & the side belts were pulled in tight
so they could be clasped together. There was a sharp metallic click
& reflecting back on their faces was the expression requested from me.

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