August 12, 2009 11:34 AM
Stage Mommy Madness
The other day I auditioned for a supporting role in a major motion picture. I won't name the movie or anyone involved because I really want the part. (I'll only say that the script is hilarious and the director is brilliant!)
Anyway the cast includes a 2-year-old girl. While I was waiting to read for the director, three sets of blonde identical twin girls, all of them adorable, showed up. (The auditions were taking place behind a closed door just off the waiting area.) Each pair of toddlers was accompanied by her mother and at least one other person.
The first pair's entourage included the mother (we'll call her Mommy) and grandmother (we'll call her Grandma). The auditions were running behind but Mommy wasn't about to complain. Each time the casting director apologized for the delay, Mommy smiled tightly, as if to say "No problem! The girls love waiting. We only wish we'd been stuck overnight on that Continental jet on the tarmac in Minnesota. Hey, the family that waits together celebrates together!"
To be clear: I am not casting judgment on parents who bring their toddlers to auditions. Some kids undoubtedly have fun performing. And times are tough. As for Mommy's solicitousness, well auditions bring out the neediness in everyone. (Did I tell you how funny I think the script is?!)
But then something happened that seemed kind of perverse.
The casting director called Mommy and the two toddlers into the audition room. The girls skipped in, the door closed behind them and Mommy. Grandma stayed with the rest of us in the waiting area. About two minutes later Mommy marched out of the audition, all business, and straight toward Grandma. With more than a little bit of urgency she issued orders:
"They need to see the girls cry. Walk into the room, then walk right out."
Grandma hesitated. She might have been slightly embarrassed because everyone else in the room, most of us slack-jawed, turned to her. But Mommy was having none of it: The girls needed to cry, and it was Grandma's job to pry open the spigots.
Grandma, her head bowed, followed Mommy into the room. As the door closed, I could hear something sweet from Grandma. ("Hi, girls"? "My darlings"?) Then a minute later, the door abruptly opened and Grandma came back out shutting the door behind her.
It worked: through the closed door, you could hear the wailing of girls terrified that Grandma was going away forever. The wailing that will haunt them as young women with serious trust issues. The wailing that they'll describe four days a week for six years, if they opt for classic psychoanalysis (which they should probably start saving for now, since no health care plan is going to cover what they need).
Was this their baptismal abandonment? Or had this played out at other auditions? And what had Grandma told them? "My darlings … you'll never see Grandma again"? "Sweeties … if only you were nicer, Grandma wouldn't be dying …"?
All this for a Rom Com! (Did I tell you it's a really good script?)
When Grandma sat back down in the waiting area, she herself burst into tears. It was a dirty job she'd been forced to do and she knew it. (I had to wonder if Mommy was exacting some revenge on Grandma by making her play bad cop.)
When the girls came out with Mommy, they were still sobbing. Grandma rushed to scoop up the twins and smother them with affection. But the girls seemed inconsolable.
What do you think? Was this all kind of sick? Or am I reading too much into it? And do you think I'll get the part?