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When going onstage is part theater -- and therapy

'Worst Audition Ever,' a monthly show in Silver Lake, offers actors (and those trying to be) a chance to hear stories of flubbed lines and bombed casting calls.

April 06, 2013|By Nita Lelyveld, Los Angeles Times
  • Actress Sarah Collette Wagner tells her story during the monthly "Worst Audition Ever" show at Casita del Campo in Silver Lake.
Actress Sarah Collette Wagner tells her story during the monthly "Worst… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Are you an actor who suffers from depression due to constant rejection?

Have you had nightmares about strangers looking you over as if you're meat?

Do you break into a cold sweat at the words "open casting call"?

Perhaps "Worst Audition Ever" can help.

It's held once a month in the basement of Casita del Campo, a Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake.

Tickets cost $20.

And although that might sound like a splurge for a thespian who's more out of work than working, it's a bargain if you think of it as therapy.

The theater is underneath the restaurant's bar. You're encouraged to carry stiff drinks downstairs.

Grab a seat facing a stage that is bare but for a standing mike.

Prepare to hear the true stories of others who've been through what you've been through — and worse:

The actress who had exactly two lines to say and repeatedly flubbed the second one.

The actor who hoped a small part in "Argo" would change his life — only to be asked to audition to play a plate of nachos.

The evening's host, who good-naturedly tallied his success ratio over a three-year stretch and came up with 125 auditions to "a low-single-digit number" of bookings.

A friend of his has a daughter, Kyle Bornheimer continued, who was asked what her mom did for a living.

"And she said, 'My mommy's an auditioner.' That's how a lot of actors feel sometimes. That's how I feel. I'm a professional auditioner."

Note that this is a rare PG quote in a show that generally isn't. Many of a typical evening's monologues are too passionately worded to be printed. It's hardly surprising, given the chasm between Hollywood dreams and reality.

Think of the endless flow of people who come here to be stars.

Think of the handful who make it and the thousands upon thousands who don't.

Take a moment to admire the brilliant calculus of this show: The potential audience is huge, and fresh material is ground out every day.

Add to this the possibility that "Worst Audition Ever" might actually do some good.

Some of those who get up to confess the mortifying times they've bombed are actors with successful careers — which is encouraging.

Then there's the show's cathartic role as a group pressure-release valve.

Alone with your stomped-on dreams, you could dwell on your failures and weep.

With others, in the theater, listening to someone else's missteps, you might instead laugh so hard you cry — and then decide that your own horror stories are really more amusing than soul-crushing.

It's common, says actress Christine Lakin, one of the show's creators, for audience members to decide they have tales they'd like to tell.

As a prompt, Lakin and the other organizers scatter promotional cards around the theater: "Have a funny/bad/awkward audition story? Email us at WorstAuditionEver@gmail.com."

Then they begin to prepare for the next show, when a new set of brave souls will buck up the crowd by describing how they fell down — only to stand up again.

nita.lelyveld@latimes.com

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