Well this blog is devoted to that dreaded event – the ‘bad’ audition.
You know the 1, where thoughts like: “Why am I here?” I feel shame, useless, stupid and want to cry and run out the door. I can’t see straight, don’t understand the expectations, my head seems to be in a log jam, can’t remember the words clearly, which I’ve recited a hundred times – ack! “It’s coming out as paraphrasing and not the actual words, can’t breathe, my whole body is tense (locked) along with my head”, or, last but not least and, 1 of my personal favourites,” I should be better than this, know better, be more experienced – an expert!” It’s like a switch in my head. I walk in good and confident and then fall apart in a haze of glory.
Can’t really explain what happens to me, as I can’t see it for what it is, just find my focus falls apart and I’m not able to keep it on the other person.
I don’t have this problem in cold readings or if the piece is 1 I have performed before in front of an audience. My expectations are low then and parameters are low – wide open really. They don’t get so set and I feel free to do what the moment calls for a lot more easily.
Nope, this is about the prepared/unperformed piece – that no man’s land of I know the words, but I have never done them in front of anyone, so haven’t got a clue what is going to happen. My expectations rise, as I say, I know the words – an expectation, so when they start to fall apart, I fall with them.
So the question is, how do I bring the freedom I have when I’m improvising or have in a well-known piece into this unknown/known situation? What can I do differently? What works to help me feel more confident? Now this can happen in a song as well as a speech or a dialogue piece. It’s like in music when you never have heard the accompaniment before, which is maybe ok for a rehearsal, but doesn’t work in an audition, at least not for me.
Given direction or a 2nd reading I can show huge improvement, but otherwise I can struggle to keep my focus, even with my actual eyes. I know I am not alone in these thoughts/experiences and over the years I have learned different ways to cope, but while here in Canada for the pilot season, I hit a low again with an audition and walked out and realised what I was putting myself through after that 1 audition, was not going to help, so, what can I do?
This exact turn around within an hour is a huge key to what has helped me to learn from the mistake of what happened and the 1st thing I did was write it all down and get it on the page, get it out of me, because, my experience has shown that if I leave that ‘stink’n think’n’ inside me, it will continue to hurt me and build. Next, got to talk this out with others, so I made a ‘proverbial’ list: – speak to an encouraging and supportive friend about it – speak to my agent to see if she can suggest a coach – book session with an acting coach – write a blog about it and send to fellow supportive and knowledgeable acting friends about it – do more auditions – any and all to work the skill of auditioning up. I can do any portion or all of these things to help me understand what I am struggling with to see, accept, understand and change.
So that is what I did do; only I didn’t do everything on the list. As you can see, I am doing the blog, because, that adult part of me, realises that sharing this with others lightens the load of those tough days, plus helps others – I hope, maybe I am not the only 1 who needs to hear this again!
As a result of my doing this ‘brain drain’ after the audition, I was feeling a lot better, could continue with my day, which included going to an event that evening and speaking to others about mentorship for Alumni of my university and I had an action plan which I am still working on today. So why the title, well, here in Canada, we have a well-known Canadian Coffee Chain called Tim Horton’s and every March they run a campaign called – “Roll Up the Rim to Win”, so that day, I happened to find myself in Tim Horton’s with a box of ‘Tim’s Tid Bits’ – small donut holes of various flavours, I can recommend if you want to try all sorts, but not eat a full donut – and a cup of tea (that’s me, a tea drinker through and through).
Well, I rolled up the rim that day and guess what it said – ‘Please – play again!’ So if anyone reading this has had a day like the 1 I described, I encourage you to do what I am doing – I am playing again.
Just as a footnote, I did win a free cup of tea before the end of the month, so it’s worth being part of the game of life, you do win, when it’s the right time.
Much love to you all and I’d love to hear your thoughts about this or any other ideas in this wonderful, if not challenging business!