Hold-Still Pageant: Tryouts Open to All

Make for Laguna Beach (and then come to a full and total stop).

Many people likely spent a fair portion of the last few weeks holding very still, in place, while keeping their mouths firmly upturned in a camera-ready smile.

Holiday photos can help us burnish our abilities to hold a pose, without moving a centimeter, in addition to capturing special memories. But it doesn't matter if it is a group snapshot at the office Christmas party, or a family pose by the fireplace, it can feel like half an eternity before the flash actually pops.

Staying still for half an eternity — or, even longer, a few minutes — is something of an art form 'round about Laguna Beach. That's the celebrated American center of the tableaux vivant, or real people posing as famous, and famously static, artworks, complete with costume, makeup, and convincingly colorful backdrops and frames.

We call tableaux vivant by a different name in California: The Pageant of the Masters. It's so famous that "Arrested Development" and "The Simpsons" have paid winky homage, and nights throughout July and August, its traditional yearly run, sell out.

If you've longed to be at the heart of that action, or inaction, if you prefer, here's your chance: Tryouts are on for the summer 2016 spectacle from Friday, Jan. 9 through Sunday, Jan. 11 at Irvine Bowl Park.

They're open to one and all, regardless of your acting background, and while they're not paid the cred you reap for this incredible experience is beyond credible.

If you can stay as unmoving as a statue for 90 seconds, you could nab a role. Of course, you'll need to be able to get to Laguna Beach each night from July 7 through Aug. 31 (and earlier than the official run, of course, for rehearsals and such).

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"Prospective volunteers will be measured and photographed, enjoy refreshments, and meet the behind-the-scenes Pageant staff. No theater experience is necessary. The only requirement is to stand still and have fun," says a note about the auditions.

That sounds doable, until you get a little nose itch or need to flick something from your bangs. It's a meditative moment, in a way, to keep still and rise above our normal physical expressions for several seconds, all in the name of higher art.

"Higher" in many senses. As far as summertime stage-bound happenings go, The Pageant of the Masters is a grand doyen, known the world over and beloved by the volunteers and fans who've been returning decade after decade.

Is joining this historic eye-feast your next bucket-list-y thing to do? Will you next appear inside a Monet or Rembrandt in Laguna Beach, for a few minutes, over several warm-weather nights? Practice begins now: Hold still but don't forget to breathe.

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