Thinking outside the bubble

By and

In the summer of 2006, acting major Andy Rindlisbach was working at a Sprint wireless kiosk in the Valley Fair Mall and hating life.

It wasn’t until he acted on a text message about an audition notice that he began getting paid for something he enjoyed.

During his freshman year at the U, Rindlisbach, now a sophomore in the Actor Training Program, was cast in Salt Lake Acting Company’s production of “Rabbit Hole,” a story of how a family deals with the loss of their son to a car accident.

Rindlisbach, who played the man behind the wheel of the accident, said the audition environment was “really relaxed” and “cool.”

“I felt comfortable,” he said. “The audition ended up going well and I got a callback.”

A few days later, Rindlisbach was part of the play’s five-person cast.

“I was in a couple of scenes,” he said. “I had this huge monologue, which was a really fun and interesting thing to work on.”

Although both the U theater department and SLAC follow Actors’ Equity Association guidelines, Rindlisbach noted differences among the audition techniques.

“Here (in the department) we hold auditions for a few shows at the same time, whereas there (at SLAC) it’s for one show at a time,” he said. “I wasn’t worrying about another scene I was going to do in a few minutes.”

Rindlisbach also pointed out that the callback audition process at SLAC was fairly short compared to the extensive game-playing and actor interactive approach commonly used at the U.

As his first experience working in a professional theater, Rindlisbach said he was surprised at the low-key nature of the environment.

“Everyone there was laid back and relaxed, but still focused on the work,” he said. “I got a sense of professionalism, but it was refreshing.”

“I don’t know if it’s psychological or not, but maybe I get a sense of academia here (in the U theater department) because I know it’s school,” he said. “This is the place where we practice being professional before we get out there in the real world.”

Rindlisbach is not alone in the pool of U theater students who have been involved with SLAC. Others have been in previous productions, such as ATP junior Lauren Bradley who acted in “Sexsting” (January 2007), while some continue to audition for upcoming plays, as fellow ATP junior Kenya Rene did with “Skin in Flames,” a running SLAC show that features Rene.

Among the latter group of actively auditioning theater students are ATP junior Erica Richardson and ATP senior Logan Black, who are both attending auditions this week for SLAC’s 30th annual production of “Saturday’s Voyeur,” a “sketch musical comedy show about Utah, its culture and politics,” as described by Richardson.

SLAC is asking actors to come prepared with a 16-bar excerpt of a song plus a joke.

“They don’t want a monologue-they want a joke,” Black said. “So, I think they’re looking for that comedic delivery.”

Although Black considers going into an audition with a prepared joke as “a little unusual,” Richardson said she likes it. Both are aware of the weight this single audition carries.

“There’s also the pressure that most of the people that have been doing ‘Voyeur’ have been doing it for years,” Black said.

“And it’s hard to get in,” Richardson added.

“They pay pretty well. If you can get into ‘Voyeur,’ you become one of the people at SLAC,” Black said. “It’s their most popular show of the season.”

Although “Saturday’s Voyeur” pokes fun at the LDS religious component of Utah culture, Richardson, a member of the LDS church herself, says the show’s humor is more encompassing of the political and cultural quirks exclusive to Utah.

“Having spent the last four years out of Utah and coming back, this is a weird little bubble we’re stuck in,” said Black, who recently returned to Salt Lake City after serving in the U.S. Army.

“That’s the key word: ‘stuck,'” said Richardson, a Connecticut native. “I feel that way when I’m here. I feel very free when I’m not in Utah.”

For those Utahns wishing to liberate themselves through comedic satire, the 2008 “Saturday’s Voyeur” will open June 4 and run through Aug. 10.

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