Breaking out of the audition nightmare
I recently had the opportunity to be a reader for a regional theatre audition. I’ve been on the other side of the table before, but never at this caliber, and I have to say, I was in for a surprise. The level of talent was, as I expected, very high, but what I didn't expect was how many people were so obviously nervous. Not everyone of course; some people are as comfortable in an audition room as they are in their own living room. I’ve always admired and envied those performers because I rarely feel comfortable auditioning.
I know I’ve had nerves in the room, but it was mind boggling to see it in others; others who have worked at much larger theatre companies, and accomplished so much more than me.
In theatre school they tell you that audition panels just want you to succeed, and it’s true. When auditioners killed it, it was so exciting. When they were nervous and let those nerves take over, it was just confusing and sad. Confusing because clearly they are talented individuals who shouldn't be nervous about showing that; sad because they clearly don't see that in themselves, at least at that particular moment.
But I get it. I totally get it, having been there myself many many times.
So from one nervous auditioner to another, let’s take a moment to reflect and agree on a few things:
-You are enough. So what if you can’t belt a high C, or cry on cue, or whatever you think they may be looking for that you don’t think you have. The job is not to please people, it’s to be an artist. Give them your art. If it’s not what they are looking for, oh well. Someone else will be.
-The audition is not the big deal, and never will be. We place too much emphasis on how we did in the room, like that really sways auditioners. On listening in, the ones that the directors raved about, were the ones that they had worked with before, or they had seen perform elsewhere. Many times, they had to admit they couldn’t use someone excellent because they wouldn’t fit into the overall mix they were looking for. Of course, do your best when you audition, but keep in mind that it doesn’t make or break you. There are so many other factors at work that you can’t control. Do what you do, and then let it go. There will always be other auditions.
-Find the thing about auditioning that makes it fun, or if you can’t, make one up. I always treat myself after an audition. I know others who view the audition as a mini performance, and enjoy the idea that they are getting to put on their own show. Find the thing that can make you view the audition as a positive experience.
-Don’t let the toughness of the industry and the frustration of the audition process shut you down. It’s easy to become jaded by all things you can’t control, but allowing yourself to hide behind that emotional brick wall doesn’t actually do you any good. Remember why you got into this; why you want to be an actor. I know it wasn’t to audition, but there’s a thing about performing that you love, and you need to hold on to that. It’s that openness, love and dedication to the craft that will make you stand out in that audition room, and it will just feel better overall.
Nerves suck, especially when they come during pivotal moments, and oftentimes, that's what auditions feel like. But they aren't. There will always be more auditions. You will have another chance. So breathe, and do your thing. And maybe, grab an icecream after.