Saturday, March 29, 2014

God, I Hope I Get It

As many of my blog readers know, I am a frequent community theatre performer. Which means that I am an even more frequent community theatre auditioner. I’ve auditioned for school plays and musicals; for community theater plays and musicals; for local fundraising performances; and for various assorted chorales, choruses, and choirs. Since I’m also an instrumentalist, I’ve auditioned to get into bands, orchestras, summer camps, and college performing arts programs as well. Since my first audition at age 10, standing around the piano in Mrs. Tatarunis’ music class taking turns singing solo lines, I have auditioned literally hundreds of times. But today I had the shortest audition I’ve ever had. It lasted a grand total of 25 seconds.

A theatre audition is essentially a job interview. In most job interviews, you send in your resume, someone looks it over, then they call you in for a chat, either on the phone or in person. It is extremely rare that such a chat lasts less than 15 or 20 minutes. And generally the person doing the interviewing has spent at least 5 or 10 additional minutes reviewing your resume. But in theater, you show up, hand the “interviewer” your resume and headshot, they glance at it while you sing your 16 bars (for you non-musical types, that’s the 25 seconds referenced above), and then you’re done. You don’t get a chance to defend what you just did, to explain the rationale behind your choices, or to expand upon the experience shown in the resume that they probably didn’t even read all the way through. Within 30 seconds, they’ve judged whether you’re worthy or not.

Of course, in many cases, the initial interview is just to sort out who makes it to the second round, and that is sometimes the case with auditions, as well. In most job situations, it’s a second interview with additional people; in theater, you get another 30 seconds or so to do a cold reading, or if you’re a dancer, you get 45 seconds to perform a combination you learned in the previous 10 minutes. If you were that terrific in your original 25 seconds, you might get a whole 90 seconds to sing again. But in a lot of cases, all you ever get is that first 25 seconds to make an impression.

The whole audition process is nerve-wracking, even terrifying. It’s frustrating. And since every show only has so many performances before it’s time to move on to the next show, it’s never ending. So why do we keep doing it? Because sometimes, you get the job.

And when you get the job, there’s no greater feeling in the world. Someone thinks that people are willing to pay money to see YOU on stage. Someone wants to hear you sing, to watch you dance, to listen to you speak, to fall in love with or hate or fear or sympathize with the character you’re portraying. Someone wants to give you the chance to dissolve your own self into a character, to lose yourself inside another human (or sometimes, non-human) being. Someone wants YOU to do what you love.

God, I hope I get it.

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