Friday, August 13, 2010

Tales from the CriBt.

I had a killer audition today.

At 11:00 a.m., I called Nathan and told him I wasn't there yet--that I would be a little late.  He assured me it would be okay.  But I felt like crap about it.

I met him at a huge warehouse that used to be a local department store, with its windows blackened.  His was the only vehicle in the parking lot, which made me a little nervous, but never-the-less, I went in anyway.

I began by filling out some paperwork, and then we talked for probably an hour.  He was happy to share his concept with me.

It's a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction called, "Steampunk."  But in 1980 and 1990, it came to prominence as an entirely self-contained sub-culture.  It's fiction set in Victorian-era England during the time when steam power was still being used.  Remember the movie "Wild, Wild West?"  Steampunk.  There's also one called Dieselpunk.

Inside were 3 huge sets.  Well, 4 actually, if you count the graveyard.  (Gosh, I love Halloween.)  The one to my right was some famous Victorian person's home.  The back story being fed to me as we toured the home, was that the owner of the home, back in 1920, found her 10-month-old baby dead in its crib.  I learned this as we stopped by the first scene, that of a Victorian living room.  Nathan had certainly done a fantastic job of set-dressing, for there were roaring fake logs in the fireplace, illuminated candles both in sconces and candelabras, as well as a huge hole in the middle of the ceiling.  I had meant to question him about that, but he was talking so fast and with so much knowledge, that I knew he would eventually arrive at an explanation.

He caught me off-guard with his next question:  "Do you see this portrait?  It's called a sleeping portrait."

I'd heard the term only from "The Others," that creepy-good M. Night Shayamalan film with Nicole Kidman.  And before I could comment on it, Nathan informed me that the portrait was real.  Of a real baby.  Of a real, dead baby.  A sleeping portrait.  Apparently, that part of his story was true--these people had found their daughter dead in her crib.

Over the fireplace, was another "sleeping portrait."  Of an adult female.  Again, I waited for him to arrive at the explanation, and when he told me the portrait was of the real mother of that baby, it all made sense.  She apparently had found the child in her crib one night, and when she found it dead, she removed it from the crib, sat down in her rocking chair and held the baby.  She wouldn't let it go.  For the doctors.  For the police.  Not even for her husband.

Finally, two weeks later, she is exhausted, overcome with grief, and stinky--let's not forget stinky--from holding that dead, decaying baby in her arms for two full weeks.  Finally, her husband steps in, forcing her to relinquish their daughter, and the woman suddenly snaps.  She hangs herself in the living room, and the ceiling caves in after her.

Interesting point that I never knew:  in Victorian homes, when a family member would die, they used to dress the drawing room up in honour of the dead.  They would put the coffin on display so the mourners could view the body.  But sometime after the turn-of-the-century, the practice was stopped, when some smart-ass at a party decided the practice was too macabre, removed all traces of the dead, and decided to dub it the "living room," in honour of those still with living to do.  Hey, when you've got that much living to do, well darnit, you need your own room.

In the second set, another extremely creative back story was fed to me.  Many years ago during the World's Fair that was held here in Nashville at the turn-of-the-century, there were tons of booths in front of the wooden Parthenon structure, where people could sell food, trinkets and memorabilia.

One electronic apprentice also had a booth in front of the Parthenon.  But because the guy he worked for wasn't entirely altruistic in his motives, he blocked traffic to this other guy's booth, and thus, no one even knew he was back there.  This really pissed the guy off.

Skip ahead to after the fair when the apprentice and his assbag boss have a major falling-out.  The apprentice decides to set up his booth again, only this time in a store front where he can gain investors in his newest electronic invention.  Because the apprentice was nearly bankrupted by his boss, he decided to store all of this equipment in one of Tennesse's many hidden caves.  Little did he know, that each time he had hooked the machinery up, a portal opened and the equipment would steal the soul of any person in that room at the time.  He died before he could ever return to unearth the machines.

In 1990, this man's son found the equipment, and without knowing its horrific history, hooked up the machines, which again opened the portal and sucked out the souls of anyone near it.

In the third attraction, a bio-hazard has occurred and those infected are unable to leave the laboratory.  Infected by an organism of unknown origin, its unique qualities attack the life of its host, but while ravaging their bodies, the side-effect is that it then prolongs their life.  For every minute infected, their life is lengthened by one minute.

Nathan had me then enter the second attraction with the mannequins and machines, where I was to develop an improvised character that would hopefully scare him.  I've never worked in a haunted house before, but knew this was not your typical slasher/blood/gore/high-school-girls-screaming-in-your-face haunted house, so I relied on my extensive improvisation training to create something completely unique.

It worked.  On his first pass through, Nathan jumped back like a pubescent school-girl and yelled when I lunged at him.  He said out of all the times he's auditioned actors, only one other person was able to scare him, and that was not easy to do.  He had me do one more character, then I had to prove I could scream without hurting my voice (Hey mum!  That vocal major sure paid off, finally!), and then it was over.  Whop, bam, boom.

He's notifying us next week by e-mail, but I'm fairly sure I have a great shot at it, as it seemed to go wonderfully, and we got along as people.

Did I mention it pays?

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