Thursday, April 22, 2010

Torturing Myself

Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through what I put myself through. Theater auditions, for example. I've been involved with one particular community theater group for the last five summers. They do only one show per year, outdoors, and it's a fun group of people. I worked behind the scenes for a few years, then when my work schedule allowed it, I began auditioning for the shows. This weekend will be my third time auditioning. But no matter how many times I go through it, I find the process to be torturous.

Auditions are obviously a necessity for a community theater director. There isn't an elegant, fair, simple way to narrow a few hundred people down to the necessary cast size but to have them get up, sing, dance, and read. For me, it's an unusual form of torture. I consider myself a decent singer, a decent actor, and (at best) a dancer that needs work. But to get up in front of a panel of people and be judged within a matter of a few mere minutes without my knowing specifically what they're looking's intimidating, frustrating, nerve wracking and, I suppose (in some sick, twisted way) a little bit of fun. It certainly gets the adrenaline going!

In the days leading up to the process, I'm usually a mess. I've thought about the roles I want, I've practiced my music, I've read the synopsis of the show to try and get the right characterization in my mind...which just leads me to waiting. Waiting for audition day. Waiting to get called in for the audition. Waiting for my turn in the audition group. Waiting to see if I get called back. Waiting to see if I get cast. And all that waiting leads to me thinking. And overthinking. Prior to the audition, it gives me all sorts of time to go over and over in my head what I need to do. Afterward, there's time to think about what I could have done better. Picking apart that short audition moment by moment. With my weird work schedule it's my one shot a year at doing a show, so I probably put too much pressure on myself.

The nature of auditions is that I turn all control of my fate over to other people. I'm not good at that. I'm a control freak. So doing this is good for me, right? If I want to be in shows, if I want to get that elusive supporting role that I've been pursuing for years (I don't seek the leading man role for the most part), the only thing to do is put myself out there and see what happens.

The times that I've gotten the call saying that I got cast, it's all worth it. I've yet to get the specific role that I want (it's been chorus roles all the way so far), but I'm getting to be in the show, spending my summers building something with a group of people all aiming for the same goal. If I get cast, I'll have forgotten all about the nerves, anguish, and frustrations leading up to the audition by the time performances roll around.

But all the initial waiting? Definitely torture.


  1. You'll be great. Go out and try to have fun. 10 minutes of sheer terror followed by a great summer of theatre.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. Bringing a book would be nice, but it would imply that I'm capable of shutting my mind off of the forthcoming audition. :-)