Bloemfontein – Durban. March 2012
Launch “Zulu crush”
Auditions and the fear of being rejected.
No one wants to be rejected. Specially if you feel you are doing something good. Auditions are like that, actors prepare a monologue and a song, the best they can. Than there is this director who decides and to minimalize the pain he will say: “You are good, but you don’t fit the profile I have in my head, don’t take it personal. I am not casting you,” but being rejected is always personal. The actor and the director both know, but they deal with it, it is part of the job, and it is a small world, a next day you can meet each other again.
On the door of the studio from PACOFS theatre in Bloemfontein is a small note “Auditions, Madonna of Excelsior, please line up”. When I arrive with my co-director and good friend Jerry Pooe, there is no line but two actors chilling on a big sofa
“The rest will come soon, we expect 30.” says Nicky, the production manager. We are auditioning for male actors between 30 and 40 years old. The two actors audition without success, outside nobody is queuing.
“Don’t worry, they will come,” says Jerry.
After ten minutes we hear a lot of talking and voice exercises outside the studio. Nicky proudly walks in with a young actress. After her monologue Jerry say’s “You are very good, but didn’t you know we are auditioning for male actors, ” she didn’t know.
Nicky now is presenting an actor, he is smiling, very tall and to young. He is introducing himself as a rapper and writer, his audition is great but we have to tell him : “You are good. But you don’t match with the profile we are looking for. Don’t take it personal.” I see he does.
I go outside the studio to check the queue. They are all very young. I explain to those waiting that something probably went wrong and they didn’t get the character profile, they all leave. Nicky says: “They knew but they try. They are students from the drama department, there is not so much work in Bloemfontein so they grab every opportunity.”
Next day in Durban different city, different chemistry, different activity. No auditions today but a book launch from my new, just translated novel “Zulu crush”. I am nervous, it feels as if I am doing an audition. People will buy the book and go home. Read it and what will they think, I might never know. I don’t have any controle, that feels scary. They might hate it or love it and are free to keep it to themselves. Only those who review the book for one of the papers will give openly their opinion about it. The theatre in which the launch takes place is packed thanks to Illa who did a great PR job. For the “Long awaited release of Roelof R. Twijnstra’s novel.” Jerry Pooe, my best South Afrcan friend and collegue is introducing the novel. He speaks highly about me. “It is not only a love story, but also about Roel’s love for South Africa. It is about a brother who adopted South Africa, and made it his own country.” I feel shy and not at ease, those words sound a little bit to neo-colonial for me. But I know they come from his heart. After Philisiwe, my wife, sings beautifully I am full with emotions when I finally have to say something. I feel tears, I don’t want them to get out. So I pause, take a deep breath and thank everyone who helped and supported me writing, translating and editing my novel, and of course the tears find a way to come in the pauses between my words. Later I sit at a small table to sign. People are queuing. The first one in line is a long tall boy. I think I know him but can’t remember from where. He smiles, than I know, it is the rapper and writer who auditioned yesterday in Bloemfontein.
“I will write a review in the Mercury about your book. I hope It is good and that I like it. If not, don’t take it personal”. I say that I won’t but he knows that I will take it personal. He wants me to sign and write something in the book. I take my pen and write. “No one wants to be rejected, but sometimes it does help to grow in life, love and in the arts. Feel free to write whatever you think about my novel.”