For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of being an actor is the audition. If you’re on top of your game, you can have several in a week, sometimes several in a day! And each one of these auditions can be a wonderful (and humbling!) chance to learn a little bit more about yourself as an actor, and even as a person.

Over the past few weeks I have been to more auditions than I can count. I have read, sang, recited, danced and schmoozed for everything from local community theatre shows to multimillion dollar productions of well known musicals.  And though I am absolutely interested in getting cast in every single one of these shows, my goal right now is actually much simpler: I really just needed to learn how to audition. You’d think it would be easy – go in, sing, recite your monologue, dance, etc. – but it’s not.

From top to bottom it can be an intensely intimidating experience. For instance, yesterday I went to my first big Equity “cattle call” audition. The monitor opened up the list at 9:30 am and the casting directors started seeing the Equity singers promptly at 10:00. Immediately I was confronted with my first lesson: be ready to sing at any hour, even if it’s wretchedly early! A true pro is always prepared. I wasn’t warmed up, so I immediately began psyching myself out.

Then I started hearing the other singers doing their auditions, and that’s when i really started to shake! These were performers of the highest calibre: opera singers, musical theatre professionals and highly trained vocalists who had traveled from as far as Missouri to take part in this audition. Talk about being psyched out. And that’s when I learned my next big lesson: stay focused on your own performance, and blot out the rest of the world. Because after three hours of focusing on other people’s awesome auditions, I was ready to sneak out of there and never look back.

But since “giving up” isn’t really an option for me, I walked into that audition room, handed the accompanist my sheet music… and immediately started by singing the wrong note. I had to start again, and as soon as I did, I saw the auditor’s eye immediately go to the next person’s headshot. That’s when i learned my third, and possibly most important lesson: Preparation, preparation, preparation!

You see, you’re only allowed sixteen measures of a song for auditions at that level, and though I sing my song beautifully from the beginning, I hadn’t rehearsed singing just my chosen sixteen bars, so I was unprepared. The accompanist, bless his heart, played that first chord expecting me to find my note, and I was lost. I eventually found the note and powered through my verse and chorus (cracking on the high notes because I wasn’t warmed up!). I finished big, but by then they had already moved on to reviewing the next resume.

Yes, you could say that the audition was a “failure” in that I probably won’t  book the gig. I’m not really concerned about it though, because I know that it was a success in other ways. I did something I was terrified of doing and I learned so much more about what it takes to be an actor. And I know that I can apply those lessons to my next big audition to get better results!

So yeah, the final lesson I learned in relation to all of this is probably the least intuitive (for me, anyway): The only way you can improve is by stepping outside of your comfort zone and staying there. You can’t improve yourself by settling for mediocrity.

Gotta go now, friends. I have an audition and a callback. Wish me broken legs!

Over and out!

-Shelly

 

 

 

Categories: General

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