Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pavlov's Dog, Audition Style

In the time that I've been back in the city, I've been on 9 auditions, which led to ...

My first callback for a musical in NYC. Now, I've been living here for three years, auditioning on and off due to booking gigs, taking time off to study, working a full-time survival job; but I would not consider myself "new to the rodeo" in terms of auditioning. Perhaps what is different is that this time I am approaching auditions from a new angle.

Focus on the work instead of focusing on the anxiety. It's the only control we have! Not only preparing, but re-hauling my audition materials with songs that I love to sing, instead of the continuing to use the songs that I have always sung. This is an ongoing process; there are a few pieces that I've found, worked on, and then auditioned with and realized that I didn't like them once I brought them into the room.

It all started with an ECC, or Equity Chorus Call, which in the past, I have avoided like the plague. Imagine this: every 20-something brunette in New York City shows up to be seen, about 200 of us, plus at least 75 non-union members hoping to be seen, time permitting. This was an audition for a very fabulous regional theatre, a coveted job with good pay, good reputation, and looks great on any resume. When there are too many girls to see in the allotted audition time, they will "type" - decide to keep us whether or not our physical type and resume lines up with what they are looking for.

We go into the audition room in groups of 10 to line up before the artistic team. They asked us for a "fun fact" about ourselves, to put as at ease and see what our personalities are like. Some sample facts: one girl found poop in a soap dispenser her first weekend in New York, another girl talked about how even though she is jot Jewish, she "out-jews" all her Jewish friends, another how she plays co-ed football in the middle of the winter.

I was kept from the typing and stayed to sing. One week later, when I received the phone call that I had been called back I literally started dancing across my living room. So infrequently do we receive feedback from our auditions, it was such a nice validation of the hard work and energy I've been pouring into my career.

When I went to the callback this week, something very strange happened to me. I put all this pressure on it being a callback and siked myself out. I did all the warmups I learned in acting school. I approached all the music and sides like an acting exercise, writing lengthy sentences about subtext, motivation, action. I practiced my booty off. Come the time of the audition, I was so nervous and so in my head that while I feel I did great work in the audition room, my personality had totally shut down! I was too nervous to eat, and likely running on empty and my energy levels were extremely low. Instead of being my usual, friendly and bubbly self,  I was uptight; so focused on the "result" of the audition instead of allowing myself to go for the ride. While I felt very, very proud of my progress and the integrity of my prep work (I used to be the "lets just wing it!" girl), I left feeling in a total funk.

My evil voices inside kept telling me all sorts of negative things about myself, my talent, the girl who auditioned before and after me was better, I'm too fat, I'm not unique enough, I'm not good enough, etc; even though I was really proud of the work! Sometimes it is so hard to let go of what you want them to think about you, and just trust that your work and talent will speak for itself.

We are our own worst enemies, people.

What I learned is that when it comes to auditions, you have to treat them like any regular day. This is just one stop on your daily journey and then you go about your life. And it's fun. It's gotta stay fun or else you risk falling into a dangerous pit of negative energy. Auditioning has to be a treat - it has to be a positive, fun thing that you get to do today. (If you are even remotely suffering from audition blues, you've got to read this book.)

Even though I still feel like Pavlov's dog when I know I have an audition that day, I am re-wiring, one baby-step, one day at a time. Positivity. Self-love. Trust in the artistic journey. Trust in myself. Confidence. I am enough.

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