Falling With Style: The Moment I Stopped Caring, It All Fell Into Place

Helen Laroche shares how the last 6 months of not auditioning has done wonders for her career.

When I started trying to make acting a full-time thing last year, I went whole hog. I went out for every audition I could find, regardless of the distance I’d need to travel, regardless of the content of the show, simply to be seen and be cast.

Eventually, I got tired. And then I started undermining myself. I’d set up auditions and then cancel them soon after. One time, I was halfway to an audition 2 hours from my apartment when I realized I’d never feel good about the commute to rehearsal. I called the group, bowed out, and turned around.

I didn’t like the grind of constantly auditioning, constantly clamoring for roles I didn’t even really buy into, constantly driving all over the Bay Area for the chance to win roles that would hardly pay for gas. And I felt so guilty that I didn’t like it. This is the way to become a real Bay Area actor, I thought. This is what I need to do to succeed, to be seen, to build my career. If I really love performing as much as I say I do, then all of the sacrifices should be worth it.

But they weren’t worth it. After a production in January where I’d get home after performance at midnight, only to wake up at 3:45am for my opening shift at Starbucks and then perform a matinee, I was done.

I stopped auditioning, I moved to San Francisco, and I sold my car. I laid low. And then, a funny thing started to happen.

Every once in a while, totally out of the blue, I’d get an audition invitation or a full-blown offer of a role. A few times now, the opportunities that have come my way seemed to have been divined just for me — stories that I needed to be a part of at that particular moment in my life.

This Tuesday, I started rehearsals for the first time since May, for a read-through of The Fourth Messenger (previously played at the Ashby Stage in Berkeley; this time going up for a one-night reading at the Zen Center of San Francisco). As if on purpose, all of my previous hang-ups about the audition and rehearsal process were bypassed: I was cast without an audition, the rehearsal process is less than a week long, rehearsal is walking distance from my apartment, I’m being paid for my work, and I’m surrounded by wonderful local actors, many of whom I’ve seen in high-level Bay Area productions before. And the content of the musical is eerily on point with the current view on my personal development path.

In other words, I couldn’t have written a better story for myself if I tried. Thanks, chaos/God/destiny/FSM.

Helen is a writer and fun-time facilitator (read: event planner). You can read more about her escapades at www.sayshelen.com.