On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

Auditions are the bane of any performer’s existence. Whether you’re an aspiring actress in LA going to massive television/film cattle calls or one like me going to local theatre auditions here in Portland, there are always more actors auditioning than available roles. Auditions can make a performer anywhere from a little nervous to terrified, depending on…well…too many factors to list here.

I’m auditioning for my first musical in 20 years on Saturday. This means I have to sing. Not in voice lessons, not for myself, but in front of the director and his team. I have loved to sing since I could speak…yet after a couple weeks of rehearsing and singing as much as possible in front of other people, my nervous level was still close to the terrified end of the scale. Which really doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s not like some organized crime godmother told me if I didn’t audition, she’d have “the girls” toss my partner or cat off the end of a big cliff to land on a field of huge 5 foot sharpened knitting needles.

All the same…this fear is real for many performers, in many shows, in many locales, all over the world. It’s not just me.

I even considered canceling the audition.

The chances of my NOT being cast are probably, I’m guessing, 100 times more than my chances of being cast. A statistician knowing how many people are auditioning, for how many roles, the experience and confidence level of each actor, their astrological charts, whether or not Mercury will be in retrograde, along with their chances of getting into an accident on the way to the theatre with the weather that day…all of this would be much more precise, I’m sure.

Yet we singers and actors keep doing auditions, because we are passionate about doing this work in the world.

A dear friend, who has directed over 20 plays, reminds me auditions aren’t about any one particular actor…rather about the mix and right fit of different actors working together. At least that’s certainly how it should be for a great show!

My amazing voice teacher, Linda Brice, knows well that fear starts in the mind, yet impacts the body dramatically, and with tension in the body, we can’t sing well. Linda has taught me not only great vocal technique, but how to breathe, visualize, and release the tension in my body for a good chunk of time before an audition or performance. The audition or performance isn’t about me; it’s about how I want the people in the room with me to feel.

Their experience will be directly impacted by the experience I’m having myself.

Josh Pais, founder of www.committedimpulse.com recently wrote:

Emotions, at their core, are simply energy. Your body is made out of atoms – and emotions are energetic fluctuations. These fluctuations are not good or bad – they are just shifts in vibrational frequencies.

Further, these fluctuations are CREATIVE FUEL!

We gotta Ride these fluctuations – not Hide them!

If we disconnect from our body (the source of creativity), where do we end up – in our head – next thing we know we’re listening to abusive shit.

In the moment of creation, understanding or analyzing what you are feeling will not serve you.

In the moment of creation, your job is to create from the badass charge that is in your body.

As we train to stay in our bodies – we learn to give the audience what they want. YOU.
Your truth in THIS moment.

Thanks for that, Josh Pais!

My only goal for Saturday is to give a solid audition – one I’ve honed enough to feel confident in, knowing I’ve done my best.

Will you tell me to ‘Break a Leg’ on the blog? It’s true – ‘Good Luck’ to actors means ‘Bad Luck,’ so only tell me to Break a Leg! And then maybe you can help me figure out where that tradition came from in the first place!

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.) Laura