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I find competition in theatre "funny". I didn't always feel this way but I certainly do now. I remember when I was in my early twenties, living in NYC and auditioning. I always used to look around and size everyone up. I'd wonder what they were singing and if they were "better" than me. Perhaps the lesson I have learned from a lifetime of auditioning is one that only time and experience can teach. But I can't help but wish that someone had told me this one thing point blank long ago and made me believe it . . . you are only in competition with one person when you audition - yourself. Allow me to explain.
I took a class in NYC from Jen Waldman. On the first day of class she told us a story of her friend who auditioned for a Broadway show. She didn't book the role. Why? She reminded the director too much of his ex-wife.
A couple of years ago I auditioned for a play. I left the audition feeling great. I gave it all I had and knew that I simply couldn't do anymore. I didn't book it. In an effort to understand what I could improve upon, I reached out to the director for answers and feedback. Here's what he said . . . "You were great. Everything I was looking for. Except you don't have blond hair. I don't want to use wigs in this show."
The lesson? Do the best you can do. The rest is truly out of your hands. It's not about the people you are auditioning "against". It's about being your best and whatever the director is looking for. Most times, not getting the part has nothing to do with your talent.
I'm thinking of this now because I just finished going through a very tough and awesome audition for Parade. At the callbacks it was between me and two other women. As I watched them perform, all I could think was how amazing they both are yet so completely different from me and each other. We were all uniquely ourselves. Any one of us could do the role. But it was up to the directors to find the person who fit the vision in their head and their vision of the show. That vision is not in my control. So why not have fun and use that nervous audition energy to be better instead of panicking? Why not look at the audition as an opportunity to simply do what you love? Perform.
It all makes perfect sense to me now. Actually, it has for awhile. No two people are alike. I will never have the same things to offer as the person next me. Why actors and artists spend so much time developing their talents to be like someone else is beyond me. Why not instead develop what YOU have? I will never be a lyric soprano. I admire them. I think they are incredible. But I am not made to sing like that. So why spend my time beating myself up about what I can't do when I could be learning all about how to be the best Broadway belter and mezzo-soprano I can be?
I'm glad I know this truth. My recent audition experience reaffirmed it for me. I audition stronger and handle the disappointment of not getting the part better because of it.
I suppose it's worth mentioning that this time, I was what the director was looking for. I booked "Lucille Frank" in Parade. Awesomeness.