Theater Around The Bay: Bad Auditions (We’ve All Been There)

Guest blogger Megan Briggs has some tips on how to recover from an audition gone bad.

If you’ve been an actor for more than 5 minutes, you’ve probably survived at least one bad audition. The good news is that you are not alone. I’ve spoken to so many of my actor friends on this subject and they ALL have stories about an audition gone terribly wrong.

Auditions_typeface

While a good audition can make you feel like you’re flying for the rest of the day, a bad one can make you curse the world and want to go home and crawl into bed. And that’s OK. Having been there myself, I’ve come up with my own way of dealing with a bad audition in three easy steps:

Step 1 – Hate the world… for a little bit

So you’ve just had a terrible audition/callback. Maybe you didn’t feel great about the way you read the part. Maybe the director kept trying to give you feedback about the scene but his accent was so thick you couldn’t understand him. Maybe your assigned audition scene partner kept interrupting your scene with lines he made up in an attempt to be more “spontaneous.” Maybe you met the pre-cast male lead and he’s 4 inches shorter than you. Yep, these are all things that have happened to me at auditions, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

So in the 24 hours after your bad audition, I give you permission to get mad. Call a friend and rant. Yell at inanimate objects (preferably not in public). Write out your frustration in your journal. Go have a few drinks with your friends. Curl up on the couch and watch stupid reality show marathons to feel better about your own life. Do whatever you need to do to express your frustration, anger and sadness over what has occurred.

Step 2 – An honest post mortem

After that 24-hour period is up and you’ve had a chance to get some distance from the situation, it’s time to take a look at what went wrong. Analyze you actions and your reactions to the situations you were given. What would you have done differently? What would you have done exactly the same? Is there some useful information to be gleaned from all of this? It’s good to be really honest with yourself, without beating yourself up too severely. I personally have gained some great knowledge from doing a terrible audition. Maybe you need to work your audition pieces more, take an improve class, or practice cold reading with a group of friends. You can really improve your audition by reviewing what happened and thinking how you can do better next time.

Step 3 – Go get another audition!

You may know the expression “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” Same thing goes for auditions! The best way to get over a bad one is to go out and have a good one! I find that signing up for another one as soon as possible is the best way to get out and feel like I’m being proactive. Just knowing I have another audition lined up (even if it doesn’t happen for a while) makes me feel better.

The waiting game

Finally there is the situation that every actor dreads.  You nailed the audition, the callback was even better, and the director seemed to like you for the part.  You cross your fingers that at any moment you will get the call offering you the role.   Except that call never comes.  In fact, you don’t even receive an email telling you that you haven’t been cast!
 
That waiting process can be agony, and it’s even worse when you hear absolutely nothing.  At some point, you have to take control and put an end to your own waiting game.  I personally give the director exactly 1 week from the date of the last audition/callback to give me notice on whether or not I’ve been cast.  If I don’t hear anything, I’m going to assume that I have not been cast and consider other options (right after I properly mourn the loss of the part – please see steps 1 thru 3).

Hello?  Oh, it’s you Mother.  I thought it was the director calling to offer me a part!

Hello? Oh, it’s you Mother. I thought it was the director calling to offer me a part!

I wish that all theatre companies let us know the status of their casting decisions, but as Allison Page pointed out in her recent public service announcement, many companies and directors will never get back to you after an audition.  It’s frustrating, but it seems to be the way things sometimes work in the San Francisco theatre scene.   The one good thing I can tell you is that you are not alone.  It happens to all of us.  

The best advice I can give you is to not let a bad audition get you down for long. The truth is that this is an industry full of rejection and it’s probably always going to be that way. The good news is that actors are awesome people, and we are willing to share war stories with one another in an effort to create a sense of community. If you’re feeling down about an audition, one of the best things you can do is talk about it with another actor.  Chances are they’ve been there and can provide a sympathetic ear and help you feel better.

So get out there and audition with all you’ve got! That reality show marathon wasn’t all that interesting anyway.

Megan Briggs is an actor with a sympathetic ear and few war stories of her own. Starting May 16, you can see her perform (along with her awesome castmates) in The Crucible at Custom Made Theatre Company in SF. You can also check out her non-theatre related blog MacGIRLver: Tips and tricks from a gal who’s been there.

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