Ah, actors: continuously in that 'first date' phase, rarely making it to second base. Are you an actor and have you read Audition by Michael Shurtleff? If not, do it. Now. Like, right now. I'll wait.
Now that we’re familiar with Schurtleff's delightful work, I wanted to write about something that actors go through on a (if you’re lucky) weekly basis: auditions.
Let me be up front: I. hate. auditioning. period. Yes, Mr. Shurtleff, I know I must learn to love them since it’s a huge chunk of my job and yes, I know I’m auditioning the panel just as much as they’re auditioning me, but nevertheless–I don’t like them. I don’t like the way my heart beats as I try to find the space (which takes forever since my nerve-wracked brain isn’t thinking clearly). I don’t like how I inevitably compare myself to the other actors that are also waiting to be seen. I don’t like the mumbled sounds I hear from the audition happening before me (“They’re yelling. I didn’t think to yell for my sides. Should I yell? Can I still project well? Do I need to spend more $$ on vocal training?”…). I don’t like knowing whether it is obligatory or offensive to shake hands. I especially don’t like how much I scrutinize every detail of the audition after it’s done. I know, I know, the trick is to just go and forget about it afterwards–the problem is that I can’t. How can you not think about that brief moment that may or may not determine how your career is going to pan out for the next few months?
Auditions, I’ve realized, are a lot like a first date. You already have taken a great leap by moving beyond a crush and actively pursuing someone. Finally, they show an interest. Yippee. You prepare for this event, taking in mind what you know about them will influence what you say, how you dress, and how you will act. When the day finally arrives, the anxiety sinks in and nothing goes the way you planned. That, or your date is nothing how you envisioned and you have zero chemistry. Or, even worse, everything goes swimmingly…which makes it that much more heartbreaking when you never hear from them again.
Love is a powerful emotion. It makes us vulnerable and do silly crazy things. It hurts when the love we offer to the world is unrequited. But you can’t fall in love with everyone and not everyone will fall in love with you. That’s what makes falling in love so special. Sometimes, you share a unique energy with someone and things click. If you’re lucky, you get a call back (callback, get it? GET IT?). You go on a second or third date and, if you’re really really lucky, begin an exciting new relationship.
Hang in there, my fellow first date actors. We’ll find our roles eventually. And when that acting gig is over, I’ll be there waiting with you until it’s time to go on our next date :)