If you want to audition for the lead in Raising Well-Adjusted Children On Purpose, previously known as Let’s Not Screw Up Our Kids By Accident, please note you are auditioning for a role that repeats its high-maintenance drama nightly and into perpetuity. There is no curtain call, no applause, and rarely a decent review. We will accept Equity members only, as this role is too layered and demanding for those without previous experience playing to large houses and maintaining freshness in long-running shows. If you’ve got experience with the classic dramas, particularly where life and death stakes are involved, all the better.
We ask you to prepare a monologue from the script, which is entirely improvised. We want to see your range, as this role will demand more from you than you have to give. We don’t care if you are Method- or Meisner-trained or if you learned your craft on YouTube. That said, if you have an MFA from Yale or the like we will be more impressed with you. At least initially. That’s just how it works. We are also stirred if you are the eldest in a large family and have taken on the mothering role for your younger siblings because your own mother was understandably drunk or painfully unaware of the emotional damage she was inflicting on you by trying to raise children without sufficient emotional preparation. Here is where Method training might help. But that’s another story. It will be your actual audition that will show us if you have what it takes to embody this role in its entirety.
The given circumstances are: You are the mother of three children who must be picked up after school with relentless timeliness to manage the afternoon and evening activity tornado.
The youngest girl is in kindergarten. She copes with this indignation by sucking her thumb and pouting. The middle child, a gregarious second-grade boy with tendencies toward verbal perseveration, eggs her on. A petulant 13-year-old middle school daughter is too hungry to answer the unreasonable question, “How was your day?”
In no way should you appear capable of this role. Play against type. We want to see an arc in character development. Your super-objective is to raise emotionally healthy children. Put another way, don’t say or do anything stupid. We are looking for intentional mothering choices. Your first obstacle is to manage an escalation between Mr. Let Me Needle Someone and Ms. I Expect Solitude to Process My Kindergarten Day.
MOTHER: Christian, she’s behind you sucking her thumb. She doesn’t want to talk.
CHRISTIAN: Julianna, are you tired and crabby?
MOTHER: Leave her alone, okay buddy?
CHRISTIAN: Okay… Julianna are you in a bad mood?
JULIANNA: He’s talking to me!
MOTHER: Christian, please leave her alone.
CHRISTIAN: Okay, okay. Hey Julianna, are you going to have a fit?
JULIANNA: Make him stop!
MOTHER: (Loses patience, skids onto the berm of the road screaming) Christian!?
(Julianna begins to sob)
CHRISTIAN: WOW. Why is she in such a bad mood?
Please resist the urge to rely on caricatures or stereotypes. Do your homework. Create a full history for your character. Only then will you satisfactorily be able to decide if, in the previous scene, the mother should have leveled consequences, set repeat offense boundaries, or driven off the road much sooner. We continue with. . .
(Lights up on middle school car line. Carly, your 13-year-old, enters vehicle.)
MOTHER: Hi honey, how did —
CARLY: — did you bring me a snack?
MOTHER: Well, I’ve got some peanut butter and jelly crackers here.
CARLY: I hate PB&J on hot days! What else have you got?
MOTHER: That’s it. I’m not a grocery store.
CARLY: Why are they here?
MOTHER: They live with us.
CHRISTIAN: Hi Carly. Julianna is in a bad mood.
CARLY: Is this air conditioning even ON?!
JULIANNA: I’ll eat the peanut butter crackers.
CHRISTIAN: She’s sucking her thumb.
JULIANNA: Stop it Christian. I am not!
CARLY: Can you just pick me up first tomorrow?
MOTHER: I don’t see how. Your school lets out last.
Once in the house, your role requires you to play remote control construction vehicles, create the frame of a princess puzzle, and categorize quadrilaterals by angle and line length. No one notices you have forgotten your lines, missed your entrances, and that you need a costume change.
Chatty, Angry and Petulant eventually become Sleepy, Punch Drunk and Over-Stimulated. Your diet has run its course — coffee in the morning, chocolate in the afternoon, and wine at night. Keeping within these nutritional guidelines ensures you successfully manage the ninth reading of Dora the Snow Princess without slipping into a literary coma. Bedtime arrives. You kiss your darlings good night. A few good hugs, some squishy snuggles, and the curtain closes.
To earn this coveted role, convince us that you want more than anything to get cast in the lead role again tomorrow and everyday after that in spite of the perpetual production run, lack of union-required breaks, and improvised script.