Friday, February 29, 2008

Auditioning vs. Performing

As an actor auditioning for me is a necessary evil. Not everyone thinks of it that way, but I do. I LOVE performing. To me, performing is like taking a breath of fresh air. It's such a release and it feels like I've taken a hit of the best drug in the world. It's very hard for me to come down from it once I've done it...

I often ask myself this question: Why am I so good at performing and so horrible at auditioning? I've tried a million times to answer this question. A few Saturdays ago after having one of the worst auditions ever and then going on to have one of the best performances later that night, the question came up again...In order for me to get to the performance I have to audition. What is it about auditioning that freaks me out? I don't know.

Maybe it's the competitive aspect of it. A group of people get thrown into a room and they have to prove that they are the correct person for whatever character they're going for. Perhaps I feel a bit intimidated because there are several people I compete with who have their Theatre and Film degrees or have been doing this since they were 16 years old or younger. Or maybe it's just because they seem so sure they know what they're doing and in my head I'm screaming, "What the hell am I doing here?!", while worrying that everyone around me knows that I don't belong there.

I had a conversation with a friend/colleague about this very thing the other day and her advice to me, "Honey, you need to let that go!" (thanks, Carole). She then gave me examples of people that started their acting careers later in life with much success. No formal training, just a dream. It all seems so possible, yet so far away...

It's amazing what the mind can do to a person. I mean it's my mind, with my thoughts and it's working against me. I've taken countless classes, I've been in several workshops. And I would highly recommend several of the classes/workshops I've taken. I often ask myself what ingredient is missing...confidence? Is that what it is? I try to create rituals for myself so that I can feel more calm and ready and focused for an audition. I've asked my friends what they do and some of them seem to have their thing down, while others don't. But I need to find my own thing. How do I do that???

Or maybe it's not even that. Maybe it's all about the mind over matter. Maybe I just need to change my mind set. After all, auditioning is a form of performing. It's a shorter performance with different intentions behind it, but a performance all the same.

Why do some people do so well at auditioning and suck at performances? Why do some people rock at performing and plummet when auditioning? Why is it that some excel in both areas? And how do I get to the point of kicking butt in both areas?

I believe that I come out of my shell in performances because there is no pressure. Isn't that funny?! Because there really is. There's the pressure of connecting with the audience. There's the pressure of keeping the audience entertained for longer than 5-10 minutes. Actually, there's more pressure in performance than in an audition. But the pressure of competition is out the window...sort of (unless you're competing for an Oscar or Tony). But who really thinks about that when they're working on a film or theatre project?

How do I change my mind set in order to do better in my auditions? How do I figure out a routine to make me feel calmer and more focused? Do I need one? Is it all just a bunch of crap? Is anybody out there feeling what I'm saying?

Patricia A. Robinson

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