“Audition Notice: ‘Doorman,'” by Steve Schutzman

Sep 27th, 2023 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

The doorman will be cast from the large pool of doormen in New York City who went on to become professional stage actors in New York City after years of performing the most theatrical of jobs, being a doorman who must come to life for each person desiring entry, desiring exit, and then settle back on his stool after the dramatic moment of touching the brim of his cap, greeting and opening the door for someone. Symbolically, the doorman never enters and never exits. Neither does the actor in the play. All this requires such art that actors who have not been doormen would not succeed in the role. Here life leaks into art like blood between brothers. One would never ask a mule to play a horse, close as it might come in some ways.

Due to the pandemic, the doorman will be masked during times of required masking. When masked, the audience must be able to see in his eyes the expression on his mouth or, conversely, see in his eyes the contradiction of the expression on his mouth, for pointed socio-political reasons to be explained later.

The doorman is the play’s dramatic linchpin or lever between outside and inside, between the privileged and the not-so-privileged, between those going places and those stuck in place. The doorman must be able to create interest and drama by the way he sits still on his stool for long stretches, ready to keel over from boredom or to stand up at a moment’s notice. Similarly, the doorman must be able to create interest and drama by the way he stands still, as dazed as a bank guard whose lack of alertness presages a robbery, as resentful as a security guard outside a CEO’s office presaging a mass shooting, as tense as a catatonic whose state of mind results from society’s suppressed impulses, or as dreamy as a young, homesick soldier at attention in formation, his facial expression showing that he will surely die in his first moments of battle in a mistaken war, presaging the fall of innocence and the empire. This is not a world at peace with itself.

The doorman must be able to converse with mailmen, bicycle messengers, Amazon, Door Dash and other delivery men, repairmen, cable guys, cleaning people, would-be solicitors, au pairs, babysitters, nannies, and various other workers, and in so doing subtly suggest the restless, subversive soul of the working class, their struggles in the midst of obscene plenty, and that revolution is in the air. Or conversely, in those exchanges, the doorman might convey hauteur because of his identification with his upper class employers. Where will the doorman’s loyalty come down when the people are at the barricades? This is the central dramatic question.

The doorman role requires exceptional memory skills, not just to remember his lines but to remember the hundreds of surnames of the tenants going in and out of the tall, posh, parkview apartment building, because being called by surname, with the appropriate honorifics or courtesy titles, Mr., Mrs., Madame, Dr., Professor, Duke, is part of what they pay a doorman for. The greeting should seem like a welcome ritual during which both parties convey interest even enjoyment not just rote participation, and yet it is a ritual which solidifies the social stratification inherent in their different roles; the tenants are always greeted by their surnames and the doorman by his first name, suggesting their noblesse oblige and his infantilization since he is allowed to call their young children by their first names without honorifics such as Master. The doorman’s name must be either Israel or Bobby.


I am a fiction writer, poet and playwright whose work has appeared in such journals as Defenestration, Pushcart Prize, Alaska Quarterly Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Night Picnic, and Oddball among many others. I am also a seven-time winner of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Grant Award, awarded for creative writing excellence. Website: steveschutzman.com

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