So as you can gather from my title, this post is about auditions! And there’s a reason for the rest of that title, besides getting a chance to slip in a Star Trek reference. (I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!)
(Also for full disclosure, this post has implied foul language. Just thought I’d warn all those sensitive types out there.)
For many performers, myself very much included, the Audition is one of the worst elements of the career. Nothing brings about more nerves, anxiety, and fear than the dreaded audition! We spend so much time trying to NOT be scared of the AUDITION! (*Running away in terror*)
For those of you not involved in the singing world, let me make an analogy. Imagine that you had to go on job interviews all the time – for the rest of your life essentially – in order to have any kind of job. Because once you get a job, it only lasts so long. Then you have to audition again to get what is essentially the same job – either with the same company or a new one. Over and over. Always being “ON” each and every time. It doesn’t matter if they know you already, you still have to be “ON” and be better than the other new job applicants. No pressure or anything….(insert sarcasm here.)
Now, I must say that I feel like I have come to a point in my performance career that I don’t get nervous in the actual performances any more. I get that great rush of adrenaline, sure, but not the “kill me now” nerves that used to plague me before a performance when I was younger. When I’m going on stage performing as a character in an opera or musical, I feel that wonderful amazing energy that so many of us get addicted to. I become that other person. I’m not nervous because I’m not me anyway! I feed off of the energy of the crowd, and can sing my little heart out!
Why then are auditions not the same? Everyone tells you in your student years to “treat auditions like a performance!” Um, yeah. Easier said than done! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to get into that mindset. I wish I could, believe me. But it’s VERY different singing in front of an appreciative audience versus a table of two or three people that are standing eight feet in front of you – usually in some kind of small rehearsal room – either staring at you with blank faces or staring down at your resume, or some other thing that they happen to be doing.
Throughout the years, I’ve had to come up with different “techniques” to work through my audition nerves. For awhile, the pre-audition pep talk was doing the trick. Telling myself over and over for ten to fifteen minutes before entering the room, how great I was and how wonderful I was going to be. That didn’t work very well for very long. I was too insecure.
Being an over-achiever/perfectionist type, I often put insane amounts of pressure on myself to be, well, perfect. As a result, every audition was SO important and had to go SO well. Who can live up to that kind of pressure?! I wasn’t capable of it – I would always do so much worse in auditions than in my lessons and performances. So I started using a mindset that has been one of my “go-to’s” for awhile. I would think of the sheer immense size of the universe and all that’s in it. So infinitely large and expansive. Not only is our planet just a miniscule blip on that cosmic radar, but I’m even smaller than that. This moment in my life is even smaller than THAT! When I thought of it in those terms, it definitely helped to take the pressure off.
But like all things, you can’t keep using the same technique over and over, or it loses some of its efficacy. I think I’m going to try a new method to the audition madness. I’ve heard of other singers talk about it, but I had my own brush with it yesterday.
Yesterday, I had an audition for a good regional musical theatre company. I’d been wanting an audition with them for years, but had never gotten an appointment. But two weeks ago, they called me out of the blue and asked me to come in and audition to be the understudy for the leading lady in their upcoming show. Yay, right?! Nope. It was for their Christmas show, and as many of you know, I have a very successful Christmas Caroling business that makes me lots of money every year in December. No matter how well the show would pay, it wouldn’t come any where close to what I would make caroling. BUT – I was going to do the audition anyway – just to get in front of their faces.
They had us prepare a 17 page song from the show. Yes – 17 pages. With all of my jobs, I was super busy AND I was also starting rehearsals for my fall show. The audition prep was put on the back burner longer than I would have liked. But thankfully, God has been kind to me (as well as good genes) and I can learn stuff really fast. I learned and memorized that 17 page song in a day and a half. And I sang it (and acted it) pretty darn well!
So I was trying to figure out how I did SO very well at this audition – one that required so much extra preparation too. I think the reason was because I knew I couldn’t do the show anyway – even if I was offered the part. Knowing that I wasn’t really in the running anyway really took the pressure off, I guess. I worked my butt off to get ready, but once I was there and couldn’t do anything else more, I kind of went in with a F— it attitude. And it freakin’ worked!
Perhaps this has to be my new method? I’d already had this kind of attitude on some of my solo singing gigs that weren’t roles in shows. (It’s hard to hide behind a character when you’re just up there singing by your lonesome.) But I’m now thinking that the “Eff It” mentality is the way to go for auditions. Take off the pressure! Do the work ahead of time, then get to the audition room and say Eff It! I’m now at a place in my life where I actually know that I have a lot to offer – in singing and everything else in general – so I’m going to throw myself in and not worry about self doubt or worry – I’ll just say F— it!