I hope you’re all staying healthy, wearing your masks, and keeping up that social distancing. As an introvert who often has to take breaks from dealing with people, it’s not so hard for me to keep my social distance, but it gets lonely after a while. I don’t get to hug anyone! Except my Mom because I am once again with my parents and this time I’m in Arizona. More later about what I’ve been up to.
What I really wanted to share today were some funny and cringe-worthy audition stories, inspired by an article about different celebrities sharing crazy audition stories. And also because in-person auditions will not be resuming any time soon.
Here we go: When I graduated from college, I moved back home to the Portland/Vancouver area because I was afraid of LA. I finally had my chance to audition for one of the big Equity theatres and I was so excited! I went to sign up as a non-union person for a slot and came back for my audition time. I chose a very shouty, angry monologue about a girl complaining about how her mother loves everyone more than her and part of Someone To Watch Over Me, eight bars as they had asked. I had already e-mailed the company manager about how to break into theatre, so I knew him somewhat. I walked in to audition for him and shouted through that monologue playing the anger and not the story. And when it came to the singing, I started and then stopped the pianist, walked over to the piano, looked at the music, and then restarted. I might have even apologized. I knew immediately that I had bombed.
I once auditioned opposite a puppet for a web series. I knew the series involved a puppet, but I had no idea I’d literally be auditioning with it with the creator doing the voice. I had to give lines that were just absurd considering the set up. It was about the woman telling the puppet that she had had a child from a one-night stand with him that he never knew about. Also, it was in his home.
I auditioned for an interpretive dance version of Carmina Burana in the little town of St. Helens, Oregon, also right after college. I hadn’t taken a dance class since first year of college, so I was rusty. The director told me to choreograph my own dance on the spot and I flopped about having no clue what to do. I decided that that show was way too weird of an idea, so that I wouldn’t accept it if he cast me, and he never called.
I auditioned for a summer theatre program when I was 19 and I did Desdemona’s “My Noble Father Speech” kneeling and talking to a chair. It was a musical theatre program. I did sing too, but I can’t remember what I sang. And I auditioned for a theatre program after college performing the Miss Malaprop speech and another weird speech. I didn’t do either very well. The program head who auditioned me essentially made fun of me and asked if I had asthma and why did I yawn with my hand out like I did. I got a rejection letter telling me to take acting classes at a community college because I wasn’t ready for their program. I had a theatre degree.
Another really weird experience was when I auditioned via table read for a children’s musical in the writer/producer/director’s apartment. I was reading for a British Sheep Dog wondering why I even decided to do this. The whole set up was really creepy and amateur and the dialogue was awful. When he and his assistant director told me right after that I was cast on the spot, I told them no and they insisted on me telling them why not. I said I didn’t want to be part of it and that I didn’t like it. He replied, “Well, you have to start somewhere.” And I walked out saying, “I’ve already started.” And I ran straight down those stairs and out to my car.
I got a rejection letter from the Brown University MFA program stating that I was “unacceptable for [their] program” and then the regular rejection message under that. Two years later, I was chosen out of 4 candidates from the US to be in the post-graduate program at Drama Studio London.
What have we learned from these experiences? We do not talk to chairs. Use age-appropriate material. Do not stop your audition unless it’s an emergency. Trust those instincts. Desperation makes you do dumb things. You can improve. Acting coaching does wonders. You don’t have to work with people who don’t respect you. And puppets make funny co-stars, so do macaques.