More than once, I’ve bombed an audition. You will too. Sometimes no matter how well rehearsed we are, we have an off audition. That’s okay. Usually though, auditions go the way I expect them to, because I’ve prepared, rehearsed and most importantly, I keep auditioning. The more I do it, the more comfortable it becomes. Two auditions a year isn’t enough to be a good auditioner, especially when it’s giving you enough stress for a decade. So you gotta go on as many auditions as you can.
But auditioning is stressful, and waiting is stressful, and being afraid to check your email is stressful. Even in good auditions, I’ve flubbed a word, skipped a line, or generally thought, “I did this better yesterday.” Gotten in the car, and obsessed over that moment. Obsessed over the fact that I never tripped over that word, not in the hundred times I rehearsed it. Obsessed over a voice crack that crept up on me. Obsessed over a missed sequence in a dance call that should have been easy. It happens. So What do you do?
I never really knew. Typically, I fretted over my audition until I received a notice from the director, or enough time had passed that I could safely assume I’d never hear from them again. It wasn’t fun. Then, an acting coach suggested to me that I develop a plan to let auditions go.
If you’re thinking “oh, easy for you to say,” right now, you are not alone. I laughed this off at first, thinking there was no way I’d be able to put the kind of effort I was used to putting into auditions and then walk away like, “eh, whatever.” But, he convinced me to try a few tricks, and maybe I can convince you too. I’m not promising you’ll never replay a mistake, or you won’t refresh your email ever ten seconds waiting for the cast list to come through, but slowly, you might begin to let auditions roll off your back.
Here are a few things I do to manage my acting life, and keep my sanity.
file sides. Usually, in film/tv/commercial auditions, I’m given sides (segments of scripts used in auditions) I get to keep. Once I complete an on camera audition I file the side and put it in a tray on my desk. If I get a call saying they want me to come back in, great, I have the script, but if I don’t it’s out of sight, out of mind.
sing a car song. In the car on the way home is the place I usually beat myself up the most about an audition. Now I have an audition playlist I blast in the car. These are mostly upbeat songs I love to sing, and it’s hard to replay an audition when you’re trying to get in every word of Bohemian Rhapsody.
treat yourself. Head out from your audition to get a milkshake, or a piece of pie. Go to the movies, the park, go shopping. Take a hard left turn out of your audition into an activity you really enjoy.
phone a friend. Let the people in your life know you’re waiting to hear back about an audition, and you’d love a distraction. I’m guilty of leaning into my most introverted tendencies after an audition. I might as well build a fort and bunker down. Focusing on other people, their needs, problems, and what they want to talk about is a great way to come out of the waiting cave and think about someone and something else for awhile.
gain perspective. Measure the success of auditions in callbacks. Sometimes you go to a callback and are still not cast, but getting a callback means something you’re doing something right in auditions. Remember that your worth doesn’t lie in getting the role you wanted. Or even in getting a role at all. And no one got your part, your solo, your scene. If you didn’t get it, then right now it wasn’t meant for you. It sounds kind of harsh to say, but there’s a lot of freedom in that. Sometimes you don’t get a role because you aren’t ready, you don’t fit the director’s vision, everyone else who auditioned was 10 years older than you, and even though you were great, you don’t fit the age range now. There’s a million little reasons you may not get cast. Sometimes director’s just simply make the wrong choice - they’re human too - but even then I really think that part wasn’t meant for me. I have something to learn by having a different part in the show, there’s a better audition coming up and if I were cast in this production I wouldn’t be able to go for, I have some growing to do. Who knows? But being jealous, and disappointed is no fun. So why not try to feel something else instead?
give yourself a day My beloved late voice teacher, Beverly Stewart, used to tell me: “You get one day.” When you care about things, your emotions are tied to them, that’s normal. If a cast list comes out, and it doesn’t go the way you wanted, it’s okay to be upset. Give yourself a day to feel your feelings, to ask why, maybe even to be a little angry. Then go to sleep, get up and repeat any of the above steps you need to. There are other roles to play, more auditions to go on, and better days ahead.
break legs & hearts - arh