A million years ago, I was in the worst-ever-mounted production of Arthur Miller’s allegory of McCarthyism, The Crucible. We knew we were horrible. All of us. It hung over the production like a fog or nerve gas. At the end of our final rehearsal before opening night, the entire cast & crew gathered on stage for notes. The exhausted, defeated director ambled quietly down from the back of the house and looked at each of us in turn. For a moment of eternity, he stared at us. When he finally spoke, it was quiet, slow, and carefully enunciated.

“Act. Better.”

He walked out the nearest exit, and for the duration of the run, we never saw him again.

I was reminded of this story several times while casting Cowboys & Engines this week. We saw a handful of women for our female lead who were outstanding, and one or two for our male lead. Most of the rest were patently mediocre. And then there were the real standouts. The actors so bad we literally had to fight not to laugh at them. The actors I wanted to send flying from the room after 8 seconds (like a rodeo cowboy) but let finish out of politeness. The actors who were so belligerent before they started reading I already knew I hated them. The actors who had been kind enough to completely rewrite the script before coming in.

A few were truly notable. One man came in to read for a different character than I’d called him for, and did an entire, painfully slow, overacted death scene standing in the middle of the room, staring at the ceiling. Another turned almost physically into Snidely Whiplash when we asked him to read the villain. Then there was the Frenchman who has apparently just started acting despite the fact he really doesn’t speak English. His language skills were so bad, he couldn’t even pronounce the French words in an English script. Like “battalion.” And let us not forget our tall, manly Russian girl who plainly thought the entire enterprise — herself included — was utterly ludicrous.

To complete the quote in the title, we have a saying in porn: “If we can’t have good acting, we’ll have a LOT of acting!”

Casting sessions aside, things are moving behind the scenes. The project is beginning to take on a life of its own, and has started to feel like something that’s just going to get bigger and bigger, in a good way.

In the non-C&E world, Russia is happening. We have confirmed plane tickets and hotel rooms, which usually means the trigger has actually been pulled. This will be my 13th country, which is pretty exciting.

I was supposed to see Blue last night, but she wasn’t feeling well. However, I got a serendipitous invitation to come over from XJN, which led to an awesome, and surprisingly violent, evening. For those who have asked, have I still got a girl I can’t have stuck in my head? Yes. Two of them, actually. However, I’m working through both of them (in completely opposite ways, but that’s a blog I will never write unto itself).

Today is more editing and budgeting, tomorrow I’m shooting for a web series I’m in, Monday & Tuesday more casting, Wednesday meetings… ad infinitum, ad naseum. Really, I have so much to do for so many projects my head is spinning. I shouldn’t be whoring around at all. The problem is, when I’m motivated, I’m horny, and I’m feeling extremely motivated. Catch 22.

I’m sure there are worse problems I could have.

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