Category Archives: Auditions

Bitter Tears

by John Donald Carlucci

An ingénue learns a lot more than she expects from her Hollywood agent. 2,890 words. Story and illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

Four weeks after I stepped off the bus from Atlanta and saw the street signs for Hollywood and Vine for the first time, I was standing on a small stage giving a monologue before several bored agents and managers.

My roommate had persuaded me to take part with her in a showcase that bit into my meager savings for $300. I couldn’t even afford ramen noodles with what remained, but I did what she wanted because I was that kind of go-along, get-along girl. Plus, I figured I was moving closer to my dream. Baby steps are still steps forward.

The smell of mold, pee, and something not dissimilar to despair permeated the lobby where I waited to pay my ‘appearance’ fee. Sharon had bailed at the last minute because she wasn’t feeling well, or so she said. That girl didn’t have what it took to make it here, and I expected to be searching for a new roommate once she ran home to mama. I looked over the list of agents and managers attending the event but the other actors said there was no one they recognized. I guess it was ridiculous to expect CAA to be at a cattle call like this.

I chose Jessica Lange’s monologue as Constance Langdon in American Horror Story. Season One. Episode Four. It was a minute long and I hoped to make a better impression hitting the crowd hard and fast. The room felt claustrophobic in its smallness as I walked out on the creaky stage. The lights were in my eyes. The assembly seemed short on audience.

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Part Two

by Heather E. Ash

Two child actors are up for the same film role – much to the dismay of their momagers. But one mother has second thoughts. Last of two parts. 3,610 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.

The ER doctor lifted Sam’s shirt and looked to Susan for explanation. Raised welts covered Sam’s back, already purpling. “Sam? What happened?”

Sam picked at a loose thread on the sheet and shrugged. One of his curls was caught in the bandage above his left eye.

“Samuel McGrath, answer me.” She heard her voice shaking.

“Why don’t you let me have a minute?” the doctor suggested, guiding her to the door. Susan knew what that meant. He had to question Sam alone. Ask if Mommy hits him and whether she uses her hands or a hairbrush.

She stepped into the hall. Wendy was coming toward her. “How’s Caden?”

“His arm’s broken.” Wendy swallowed and took a shuddering breath. “They’re taking a CT scan to check…for swelling. In his brain.”

Susan folded Wendy her in my arms. “Caden’s going to be okay. They’re both going to be okay.”

The door opened behind them. “Mrs. McGrath?”

“What do you mean he landed on you?”

“He said I should lie on the ground. To jump over.”

“But why?”

“He said I had to or he wouldn’t be my friend anymore. And you like Miss Wendy, so—” Sam’s voice broke and he leaned his head into her arm.

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Part One

by Heather E. Ash

A mother brings her young son to Hollywood hoping he’ll make it as a child actor. Then she starts to rethink everything. First of two parts. 5,983 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.

Like so many things in Los Angeles, the rain was fake. That didn’t make it any less wet as it pounded onto the heads of the children, dragging Sam’s curls into his eyes. The director yelled cut and then yelled it again. He wanted scissors.

The make-up girl sprang forward, but only wielded bobby pins to secure Sam’s hair with steady hands and a vacant half-smile…products, no doubt, of the pill bottle Susan had seen nestled between the lipsticks.

Sam’s lips were blue. No one seemed the least concerned about hypothermia. Hell, none of the kids would have eaten lunch if Susan hadn’t reminded the A.D. of work rules. The mothers of the other two boys didn’t like that at all. “You can’t cause trouble,” Fake Blonde warned, while Fake Boobs bobble-headed agreement and added, “You want your son to work again, don’t you?” Better to let their kids starve than take a chance at upsetting the D-list director of a cookie ad. They probably thought Susan was some hopeful Okie – but she knew more about this business than both of them combined. She knew people would take advantage of you only if allowed to. And everyone was out to take advantage.

Susan slipped in behind the make-up lady and caught Sam’s eye. “This is the last take, baby,” she told Sam. “This is ridiculous.” Already twenty-six minutes over schedule.

“But Mom,” he protested through chattering teeth, “this is fun!”

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Exit Left

by Steve De Jarnatt

An actor goes to an audition with dismal prospects, high hopes and a terrible sense of direction. 2,447 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.

The cold metal doors slam shut, and I am sealed in, coffin-like, for a smattering of seconds or even for a minute or more. But this will pass. I will endure; I always have. Breathe now —  slow from the gut, deep down within the solar plexus. Slower — till the lungs, every inch, are full and aching. Hold. Exhale. Better. Yes. I control my fate. Breath of life, breath of life, breath of life.


My eyes open with the elevator doors, and I move to exit this vertical casket. “Wrong floor, sweetheart. I think you want seven,” warns a small corpulent woman blocking my path. We ride in silence but the woman, sensing my phobia of small spaces, kindly relinquishes as much of the elevator square footage as she can. She doesn’t know that, in my early youth, I had once been trapped in a smashed-up Buick, submerged on a river bottom with my family dead all around me. I survived off trapped air from an empty Thermos till those divers came.

Well, actually — no, that’s not really true. It had happened to my friend Kenny, not me. My invented past can seem so real. God knows I utilize it every chance imaginable for “sense memory.” Pathetic, isn’t it, to have no real trauma of your own? Is it my fault that, as the only child of diplomats, my upbringing was so uneventful? I’ve always been jealous of those raw-nerve actors with some hellish past to draw upon as grist for the creative mill. Maybe that’s why I am still a nobody with an ever-closing five year window to play leads. Yet I try to stir up faux claustrophobia to cover the anticipatory dread of an audition.

The elevator doors open, and I, Josh Barnes, the handsome-ish everyman — early 30s to mid-40s — exhale into the casting anteroom. A dozen others, all from the same narrow band of eerily similar likeness, are spaced around. Some I know, some I know too well. Most sit, many pace, all giving each other as wide berth as they possibly can. Everyone has the same three pages of ‘sides" in their hands. The room is silent but for rustling paper and the compound murmuring.

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