Celia Rowlson-Hall's 'The Audition' is a Beautiful, Ugly Look at the Performing Arts
Celia Rowlson-Hall is an actress, director, dancer, and choreographer whose work displays an innate predilection for the body. Her directing seems focused on a type of physicality that conveys what words may not be able to, or shouldn’t — and understandably so, given that this sort of thing seems to come very naturally to her. She has received favorable notice at festivals, choreographed a music video directed by Gaspar Noe (Enter the Void), and appeared as a lead character in a really, really cool Passion Pit music video. Her recent short, The Audition, addresses things that could apply to any of us working in the field of arts and entertainment, and does so in a brutally honest, intensely physical, and totally fascinating way. Read on to check it out (note: I wouldn’t confidently call it SFW).
This short could mean a lot of different things to you. On the one hand, it seems to be a satirical, almost dark commentary on the integrity-over-the-coals nature the fickle world of entertainment can sometimes possess. On the other hand, it could be a literal, funny, and shameless salute to those who would do anything for their art. The video’s brief description — which states that it’s “for every ACTOR / DANCER / PERFORMER / MODEL / MUSICIAN out there” — could be construed to support either claim.
Or it could mean something else — I think it’s much more interesting to find your own perspective on it rather than outright call it one or the other. It’s provocative, but even in taking its conceit as far as it can go, I actually find the piece to be a rather touching tribute to those who wholly put themselves out there for the love of the craft. To get a little cerebral for a moment, this reminds me of Aronofsky’s themes in The Wrestler and Black Swan for their shared portrayal of an entertainer willing to push the boundaries of their physical calling, giving themselves utterly and unselfconsciously to the performance. For the more bleak resonance The Audition carries (if you ask me), I’m reminded of the low subtextual rumblings of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and the insatiable thirst for heart and soul that Hollywood can sometimes have. Then again I just may be looking too deep into things and not enjoying myself enough here.
In any case, it’s definitely affecting — I’d love to hear how you guys feel about it, and what your own interpretation of it is. I’ll leave you with another of Celia’s short films, Prom Night. It’s drop-dead beautiful, haunting as any eight wordless minutes I’ve ever seen, and like The Audition, funny and not soon forgettable. Seriously — for the piece’s last two-and-a-half minutes Celia delivers what I can only describe as the physical performance equivalent of an operatic solo finale. (On-the-fence-SFW)
Prom Night was an official selection at SXSW 2011 and the Rooftop Film Festival 2011, and received a Special Jury Award for Celia’s dancing at Videofest24.