It was an interview with an actor whom I admire, both as an artist and as a person. He said a lot of great things, but one in particular jumped out at me. He said, and I paraphrase, that “Auditioning is an actor’s job. You do it more often than you actually perform”.
As those words sunk it, it occurred to me that though most of us are trained in how to do the work, we’re often untrained in how to get the work. Though the impulse to perform is nurtured and cultivated in drama schools around the country, somehow the audition is still seen by actors as something to be suffered through. A necessary evil, which must be endured until our careers reach the point where the offers finally just start rolling in.
Be honest. Haven’t you secretly dreamed of the day when you wouldn’t have to audition anymore? I know I have. I’ll admit it, I have fantasized about the day when I could sit in my study, sipping tea and perusing scripts as I imagine Meryl Streep might, considering only the ones that offer the highest standards of artistic integrity or the ones that tickle my fancy. Come on, is it just me?
But this interview, and the sensible nuggets of artistic advice it offered, really made me see that auditioning is what we signed on to do when we decided to go into this profession. Auditioning is perhaps the skill we utilize most of all. The audition, usually in a small room, with a folding table and bad lighting, is the best system that our industry has come up with for casting TV, Film, Commercials and Theater. We can grumble about it, or we can excel at it. And the awesome part, is that if we treat it like it actually IS our job, like it is something we are trained in and skilled at, then we can excel at auditioning whether we book the job or not!
But let’s talk about the grumbling for a minute. Because the temptation to complain will always be available; around every corner you will find a fellow-actor inviting you to jump head first into the pool of audition discontentment. Here's a joke that underlines this truth:
Q: “If a group of Lions is a pride, and a group of Wolves is a Pack, what do you call a group of Actors?”
A: “A complaint”.
Another apropos joke:
Q: “How do you get an actor to complain?”
A: “Give them a job.”
Actors, and people in general, love to complain, but the God’s honest truth is that the complaining, though seemingly cathartic at the time, always leaves you more discouraged.
So, tilt the camera lens just a little and try out a new perspective. Choose auditioning as though it is what you went to school for, because it is. Choose auditioning as though it is what you want, because if you want to be an actor, then it is! Treat auditioning like an art form all its own; a five-minute solo-show where you get to take center-stage and bring what you do so well to the table. Instead of a burden, make the audition just one more opportunity to perform.