Another good meeting today. This one was a singing and talking meeting. This time I used the song and the monologue, just as I did the introduction and the conversation that followed, as an opportunity to show a bit of who I was rather than how well I could act or sing. Phew, what a load off.
It’s much easier to be myself then to try to show how good I am at being myself. When I do that, I’m acting an audition. The result is much more like what I’ll actually do on stage if I get cast.
Consequently, and I owe much of this to a wonderful voice lesson I recently had, my vocal audition never felt better. I’ve never felt more relaxed, more on voice or more connected with the material. I wasn’t singing at all, really. Nor did I feel I was giving a vocal performance. I had a conversation in an imaginary world which happened to be accompanied by a pianist. Being a good sport, I decided to sing the words on pitch along with the pianist, which consequently made the imaginary conversation more vital and engaging.
The next time you watch a musical or re-run of Smash, watch for the difference between someone singing and someone acting, or talking, on pitch. (It’s what often makes Ivy better than Karen, which of course destroys the entire show.) Someone singing at you might sound very pretty, but it doesn’t grab you and it doesn’t feel real and vital. When someone communicates on pitch, with the same level of engagement and need they attach to non-musical dialogue, the music heightens the vitality of the words and deepens the emotional life of the character. Simply put, the singing becomes the result of the character’s necessity to communicate in a different way. That necessity is just as freeing for the performer as it is engaging for the audience.
My successful vocal audition today was a result of trusting my voice, demanding of myself and the material exactly what I would demand from non-musical dialogue and relieving myself of the obligation to “sing.” I acted on pitch. I’m sure I’ve been told that’s the way to sing musical theatre a hundred times. I never did it until today. Why are the simple things so damn hard?
WHAT I DID TODAY
Today I went to an audition just 10 blocks away from my apartment. It was for a few plays in the city, of which one or two had a role that I am generally good for. After a very lovely five minute stroll down 9th avenue I walked into the holding room, signed up for the next available slot which was just a half an hour away, looked around, and then I left. I walked the 10 blocks back to my apartment, changed out of my nice pants and shirt and sat down at my computer. I went about the rest of my afternoon, accomplishing a few menial tasks and then went to work.
Is it a problem that I didn’t have to strain much to travel to the audition, thus I allowed myself to look around the room, get a bad feeling and decide it just wasn’t worth it?
I audition a lot. Some people audition more, I’m sure of it, but I do audition a lot. I’ve been called back zero times since I came back to New York a few months ago. I’m equity and I’m a little rusty in the audition room and I’m often going to EPA’s which I just don’t have a shot-in-hell for in the first place. So, put in perspective my continuous strike out’s don’t bother me much. It probably has more to do with my crappy headshot and little to do with my actual audition. I realize that. But, today, I failed. No matter how I look at it. I let the system beat me. I looked around the holding room at the same 25 faces I’ve been seeing in every holding room for the past two months and I thought, “Is this one really gonna matter? We’ll all be back tomorrow.” I looked at the audition info sheet and saw that an associate producer was the only person in the room and I thought, “She’s gonna take one look at my headshot and then another look at my thin New York credits and by time she looks up my monologue will be over. ‘Thank You.’ she’ll say and I’ll never hear from her again.”
What I did today is probably the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. I gave up. I’ve just never done that before. Not on acting.
After today I promise myself I’m never going to do that again.