I knew a theatre director from Lansdale, Pa. who used to be a stagehand in professional productions. Though she teaches aspiring performers how to freely sing and dance their worries away, she does not want this life for herself. When her students asked her what kept her from becoming an actress, she told them she did not want to be overcome by the stress of auditioning.
No matter what profession a performer enters, they will have to go through the audition process. Here at Eastern University, audition season is approaching. Dancers begin rehearsing, the theatre production looks for actresses and actors, orchestras desire brilliant musicians to claim solos and sit in the first chair, and vocal groups around campus hope to discover new talent and beautiful voices. The best way of discovering talent and finding great performers is for a director to send applicants through the audition process. Directors carefully choose who they want in their production by screening all their applicants. Applicants usually come prepared with a brief performance, demonstrate their understanding of the material, and then they are told to leave. It is simple, yet strenuous.
All performers must endure auditions at one time in their life. It is a dreaded thing, like an overcast evening promising either clear skies or a stormy night. First is the waiting. Time enough for a performer’s mind to triple guess their lives and doubt their own existence. Next comes the performance. Everyone in the room transforms. Professors become bouncers, unemotional and evaluating with extreme prejudice. Students become prisoners, pleading for freedom from their mundane lives. Friends become rivals, biting at the heels of acquaintances. After the terror ends, a new psychological torture emerges: more waiting. “Will I get in?” “Why wouldn’t I get in?” “Where’s the email?” “Are they just running late?” “Was I not included because I failed?” Then finally comes an answer. Through a series of brief minutes between performers and directors, dreams are created and hopes are crushed.
This is, however, a worst case depiction of a natural and expected process. The audition is nothing worth fearing. It should not induce nightmares, or haunt students’ lives. There are simple ways to prepare for this stressful process and ultimately have a positive experience.
Auditioning students should treat all auditions as just a regular moment in their life. It is not the end-all determination of a student’s talent. There will be time and time again to audition.
Also, auditioning students should keep their mind open to both acceptance and rejection. Students should accept the role their director gives them, and be content with their gift to perform. Students should also be willing to embrace the possibility of rejection. Considering the answer in an audition is either yes or no, either option is plausible. While preparing for auditions it is best to err on the side of caution.
Lastly, and sadly, students should believe they will not get into the performance. This will prepare them for rejection in advance, and make them feel exceedingly more joyful should they get into the production.
I practice all three of these disciplines, and I have found that they improved my outlook on auditions. I am less nervous. I no longer fear my directors and fellow auditioners. I treat all group members during the audition with respect. I also do not get my hopes up for any particular role. I try to keep a level head when I do not get in a show. This new mindset has drastically changed how I interact with auditioners before an audition. I attended Eastern’s theatre interest meeting in August, and the majority of the students there asked me, “What role would I have in the play?” Even freshmen, who had not met me prior, asked me this without irony.
To my fellow performers, no matter what happens this audition season, know that a role does not define you. You are more than the parts you get or the parts you miss.
Do not be discouraged, and, if you believe in your art, do not give up. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by your adoring creator (Psalm 139: 14). He loves you, and He has a plan for you.