The Art of Showing Up

By on 23 February, 2017 in Art, Fun, Sarah Thornton with 0 Comments

crucible pilgrim“What does he want from me? What should I try to be?/So many faces all around, and here we go. I need this job, oh God, I need this show.” – A Chorus Line, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban

It is an adage that actors are not professional actors, but professional auditioners. It is easy to see how this belief developed since most people trying to make a living as actors can average several auditions a week and potentially not book anything. Or sometimes, you go long stretches without any auditions at all, which is even more disheartening. One thing I think most actors would agree on, though, is that if you don’t try out at all, you have very little chance of getting the role. It becomes a numbers game. If I go on 20 auditions this month, I might get five or ten callbacks. Out of those callbacks, maybe one will stick. Maybe. And the cycle continues…

An actor’s body, voice, spirit are his or her instrument. As with all instruments, they require maintenance and practice. Auditioning can be seen as just that! “Greasing the gears,” as it were. Auditions are a chance, for those few minutes, to be that character. For those moments in the audition room, you are playing the role. Whether it goes well, or goes horribly, you learn something from it. Actually, you learn the most when it goes badly, in my humble opinion…

The troubles come when you really, really, really want a role. Or really, really, really need a job. Suddenly, you are picking apart every single thing said to you during your audition. You are analyzing your every response, your every acting choice, that one moment where your voice barely cracked and you are sure that led to your downfall. Or was it what you were wearing? Or the fact that it was humid that day, because they should know that your hair usually doesn’t look like this. You size up everyone in the waiting room, wondering if you too should have worn heels, or not worn heels, or a brighter colored top, or if they are a better fit for the role than you. “They probably are. They’ll get it because they know the casting director. They’re younger, older, taller, shorter…” And then, you enter the room. Only now, you are but a hollow shell of the artist you were when you were pacing your apartment floor prepping for this, or running lines in your head on the train or out loud while you are rolling silverware at your day job. You’ve sabotaged yourself. You’ve started to doubt yourself. So, knock it off!

Whether auditioning for a professional gig or auditioning for the first time in your local community theater, auditioning is intimidating. It is scary to put yourself out there. Life is like that all the time! But the greatest advice I can share (both from my time behind the table watching auditions and from my time in front of the table doing the auditioning) is that you are the only you they are going to see that day. No other actor will ever play that role the way that you play that role. And the people casting are rooting for you! They are hoping that you are going to walk in and be exactly what they have been waiting for! So, believe in yourself, darn it! Smile! Be friendly! Have some fun!

There are as many stories about ridiculous reasons someone did or didn’t get cast as there are actors. And you’ve heard the whole “dime a dozen” thing. But the point is that you will never know if you don’t take a chance. Each and every audition is a chance to learn something, a chance to hone your skills, a chance to meet some new people. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” The best things, the magical things, tend to happen when you step outside of your comfort zone. Try something new. You never know what magical things might come of it!

At the Playhouse, we are about to hold auditions for our next production, and we want you! If you’ve never auditioned for a play in your life, but you’ve always been curious, we would love to see you this weekend. If you haven’t acted in years, but you’ve been missing the stage, we would love to see you this weekend. If you have auditioned for us before but, for whatever reason, you weren’t cast last time, we would love to see you again this weekend. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Auditions for The Crucible are this Sunday, Feb. 26, and Monday, Feb. 27. Sign-up is 6:30-7 p.m. Visit the Auditions page on our website for more information.

Sarah Walker Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse, who walks like a New Yorker and waves like an Alabama girl. She is a product of a Montgomery arts education, with several years of life in NYC thrown in for extra flavor.

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