Treading the Boards #1: Audition time!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you articles chronicling my efforts to get back into the world of amateur after a break of about 18 months. Here is part of “Treading the Boards”, where I begin to take my tentative first steps back into stagecraft!

This evening, I auditioned for a show. That, in itself, isn’t anything particularly new, not for somebody like me. I’ve spent a lot of time on the stage, only ever at an amateur level (to prevent my ego growing to the size of a small country), and when there’s an audience there and the adrenaline hits you, there are few greater feelings. Its just that I’ve never been a big fan of auditions.

For me, its a bit like having to give your best performance for a show that doesn’t even exist yet. I know the part I want to play, of course, but understandably I have had zero motivation to learn the lines because I don’t even know that I will be cast in the first place. Furthermore, I find that it is easier to play as a character when you have spent many rehearsals playing that part- by then you are comfortable playing them. To expect me to completely embrace a character I barely know strikes me as odd, in the same way it would be odd asking me to propose to a person I had only been on one date with. Okay, so Katie Price would have no issue with doing that, but I’m a classy date that doesn’t put put until you’ve cooked me dinner.

The other difficulty for me, especially as the part is with a theatre that carers for a variety of different ages, is that I have no idea what the director has in mind. The show is David Tristram’s “The Ghost Writer” and the main character, Edward, is supposed to be in his forties. However, the group has a whole host of young people in it, and so the director- in her infinite wisdom- may decide to lower his age. But, then again, maybe she won’t, which means that I could be auditioning for a part that I have no hope of securing simply due to the fact my mother was rude enough to give birth to me for too late.

But you have to audition, right? Because if you don’t audition, what hope do you have of being given any part? The majority of actors end up with a part because their initial audition was unsuccessful but they were unfussy enough to settle for another role. That’s always been my logic. Audition for the part, but make it abundantly clear that you will take any role, like the cheap performance whore that you are.

For me, taking this audition was a big step. My local dramatic group split up, and because of that, I haven’t performed for much of last few years. I’m somewhat rusty. No matter how confident you are, no matter how much talent you have, you will always, always, always struggle if you’ve been out of the loop for a long time. I hope I did okay, but even if I didn’t, I’m just pleased to have gotten over the hurdle of getting involved in theatre again. Its like riding a bike- you never forget how to do it, but occasionally you might wobble and fall off if its been a while.

Which leads me on to my next point: preparation. Do you need any? Well, I didn’t even bother with any practice. Firstly, having bought the script ahead of time, and having read through it about four times, I was pretty sure of what was going on in any particular scene. Secondly, warming up wouldn’t do anything other than make me very nervous indeed. I’m one of those people who will overthink things, so if I spent hours the night before going through the audition piece, I would just end up panicking and making stupidly hasty changes and then going into it in a mess. Going in cold suited me better because I didn’t have time to think about things too much. I performed and I reacted to what happened in the scene, which I truly believe is the best way to audition as it gives a fairly genuine performance.

That method has served me well in the past- although whether it will work this time remains to be seen. But I’m back in the game, baby! Lets hope it paves the way to getting me back on the stage!

If I fail, then its because I didn’t look the part, or I was too young, or some other circumstance. I left the audition room feeling really happy because I had smashed the audition by my own standards. Anything else is a bonus, but for me, it was just nice to be acting again and getting my confidence back, even if is was just for one night!

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