I am having a frustrating week. Luckily, it is turning into a constructive frustration, instead of a kicking, screaming, and eating my weight in cookies frustration (that was last week). I do, of course, understand why auditions are necessary, and actually had a period of time when I “enjoyed” them. By this I mean, I didn’t leave infuriated with myself. But lately, something has been off. After spending several months off the audition horse, I’m having a very hard time getting back on. So this is my analysis of where I should go from here as far as my nerves, my approach to preparation, and my mindset inside the audition room. Please, if you have ANY advice or similar stories, I would love to hear them:)
Issue #1: Preparation or Obsession:
In a nutshell, I had an odd occurrence while studying with the London Dramatic Academy. Well, I had many odd ones there, but this was the icing on the cake. While rehearsing our final Shakespeare project of Hamlet with my class, I slowly became frustrated with the lack of involvement I had in the presentation. I have never been one to complain about a small role, that is not me in the least. But this was an acting program, and I felt I was being ignored and unchallenged. I tactfully approached my professor (who wasn’t the most pleasant man) and expressed my concern. After some time, he came to me and told me he agreed with my frustrations. So three days before the performance, he handed me a monster Ophelia speech to end the presentation.
I was honored to be trusted with this, but suddenly horrified with the lack of time to prepare such a piece, especially with little to no direction from Professor Pain in the Ass. Up until the performance, even moments before, I drilled this monologue. If it wasn’t artistically perfect, at least I had it memorized. I had expressed myself, and been given this opportunity. Well, when I got out there, in front of every professor from the program, I went blank. I got about three lines in an suddenly didn’t know my head from a hole in the ground. Eventually, my historical dance instructor had pity on me and fed me the line. I was mortified. My fear of impressing these teachers that wouldn’t give me the time of day won and I let it ruin my performance. After much stomping and screaming, I learned to let this go, as well as that jerk teacher. Cue “Nothing” from Chorus Line.
Since this incident, I have had quite a tough time letting go of the possibility of going up on lines in auditions. The option is now there, swinging over my head, and since then, it has happened several times. Before that time in London, I only had two times since I was 8 that I forgot lines (always in auditions, never in a performance, thank goodness.) One was in my first big scary NYC audition, and then other was when I was 8 and I forgot the words to “My Favorite Things,” at the East Brunswick community center.
I don’t think my obsessive drilling and rehearsing is actually helpful. I need to find another alternative to assure I have properly prepared and can successfully stay in the moment.
Inside the Audition Room: Pretty Windows and Shiny Things
I had an audition today. It could have gone worse and could have gone better. But it prompted this post, so I think you have a gist of what went wrong already. As I do, I drilled and drilled my monologue, even as that crazy person on the train talking to herself. I stretched before hand, got in the zone, and made a great friendly entrance. It was only one woman, thank goodness, opposed to the typical line up of men that instantly make me feel uncomfortable. The room, this one in Shetler, was covered in gorgeous windows. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and I was feeling pretty damn good at first. And now…the conversation inside my brain during my 3 minutes or less…
*I introduce my pieces*
Brain: Alright! That went nicely. Why did she make a face when I said I was singing? Ah well. No turning back now!
*Start First Monologue*
Brain: Well this sounds great! I know my stuff, that prep really paid off. You are totally St.Joan right now. You are rocking this and it’s smooth sailing from-
*I find myself focusing on a pretty cloud outside*
Brain: Nice cloud, huh? Shit, you’re supposed to be speaking aren’t you. What are words? Where am I? Bllaaaauubbaaadoooooo
*Three seconds which feel like three years pass*
Brain: Shit! That line! Say that line! End the misery!
*I jump ahead and make it to the end of monologue 1*
*monologue 2 starts*
Brain: Well there goes that, maybe you can salvage it and she forgot, or maybe she thought it was a dramatic pause?
*End monologue, go to start song*
Director: Okay thanks. So I see you were in Comedy of Errors last year. Could you do some of that?
Brain: I barely know what my name is. You want me to do a monologue from a year ago?
To say the least, I didn’t get a callback. It was one of those “we’ll tell you right away” deals. ” Take a cookie on the way out.” But they were very sweet and it was by no means anything to do with the theatre. I know that staying in character and being present in the moment is the key, I’m just got sure how to do that yet with this lovely brain commentary running on high volume.
After the Audition: Hug and Doughnut Time
Despite everything else, the hardest part of the audition for me is the moment afterwards. There is an adrenaline rush beforehand and then suddenly I’m standing in the elevator wanting to hug the stranger next to me. When Helen moves in I think we should set up a system of meeting each other to hug immediately afterwards. I read a great book about taking the time to sit down afterwards and evaluate the audition based on what was in your control. Many things clearly were not, but in my mind, my nerves should be. This blog post has been my exercise this time. I hope to find a group of friends soon to regularly meet up with to run monologues so it’s not just me rehearsing to my living room wall.
All in all, this post was not meant to be a rant, but more a good look at what the problem is so I can move forward. Again, I welcome all comments for this one especially. I’m all ears for advice.
Thanks for reading and happy auditioning, if that’s your thing.