Nerves suck. They can hinder anything you do, especially when you're trying to impress anyone, like a director. The trick is to rise above it and give the very best possible performance.
Here, at JCC for the Theatre Alliance of Louisville unified auditions, was the one chance a year to impress up to 20 different theatres, directors, and talent agencies who, in turn, were looking to fill plays, musicals, improv groups, or in one theatre's case, all of the above. As an added bonus, there would also be someone there to critique my audition and let me know what needed to be improved. Pressure, much?
I handed my resumes to a waiting official before filling out an information card and getting a sticky note to put on my shirt with a number.
Then, I headed to the other side of the room where other prospective actors and actresses were congregating. My nerves subsided substantially as I recognized quite a few of them with whom I'd crossed paths before, either in other shows or auditions. We chatted mostly about the plays we'd seen, our nerves, and what we were doing for auditions.
Then, we heard the voice of an event organizer asking for the first ten people to go to the audition room on the second floor. An eternity later, although it was only a few minutes, more of us were called. A few minutes after that, I was sent up with others to the second floor.
We were placed in a classroom where an official let us know some basic rules. We would audition one at a time, and two minutes is all we had to perform two monologues or one monologue and song. We'd then sit down and wait for everyone to finish before heading back to the main floor. While waiting, I cracked a couple of lame jokes to ease my personal tension, which had taken complete control of my body again.
Afterwards, my group of ten was brought into another, bigger classroom, where we sat down in a row. In front of us were at least 20 representatives of said companies, directors, and talent agencies, ready with resumes in hand and pens ready for commenting. The numbers we had on our shirts determined who went first, lowest to highest number. I was fourth in line to audition.
All of us had interesting monologues from shows I had never heard of before but may have to check out. This included everything from a girl trying to impress a guy to a drug kingpin giving his sellers the riot act. The representatives in the audience would look up, look at the resume, or take notes. A timekeeper was also present, making sure everyone stayed under the two minutes.
Then, it was my turn. I got out of my seat with every question running through my mind at 100 miles an hour. Will it be good? Will it be dumb? Will I screw up? Oh, I'll be all right, but what if I'm not? I walked to the front of the room, trying to keep from visibly shaking.
I introduced myself, then went into the first monologue, Norman from Star-Spangled Girl. The monologue was about him being turned on by a girl he has never properly met. There's a line in there, "she turns me on", that was the climax of the monologue. I sold that with as much energy as I had, making it sound like I had an orgasm. That had to get a laugh.
Perhaps it didn't help that all parts of that monologue were on nearly the same voice level. At least, that's what the person who critiqued my audition would say in a later meeting, and I think she was right. She did, however, like my commitment and energy level in the monologue.
After making it through that, I went into the song, Marc Cohn's Walking in Memphis. I almost had a bad start, as I accidentally released saliva and for a split-second forgot the line. Thankfully, I recovered very fast and delivered the song, a capella, without any issues and with energy.
When the song was finished, well within the two minute time limit, I walked back to my seat and waited for the other five to do their auditions. Relief became my hero, fighting off the villain nerves that still wanted to conquer my body.
Later, there would be a movement and dance audition followed by callbacks and other meetings. For me, however, the hardest part was over. I had conquered, more or less, my nerves.
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(Image from Theatre Alliance of Louisville)