Ah, the life of a theatre student. Today I’m going to talk about those experiences where, no matter how prepared you are, you are just never, ever, EVER going to get cast. I don’t know about you, but those are really difficult for me to accept. If I didn’t prepare enough for a callback or an audition, okay. It’s totally my fault. If I forget the words, make a huge flub, stand there in silence for my whole audition, I understand that they might not want me back for a role. But it’s those moments when you have prepped completely, you are so totally ready for anything that they throw at you, you know that you HAVE this part…and then, phwa phwa (sad tuba noise), you’re cut.
I haven’t had a lot of these in my life, probably because I’m at school and they’re big into giving everyone a chance. But I know that in the real world, you might go into the callback and they match you with the lead of the show–who happens to be three inches shorter than you. You realize, even before you start doing the scene, that you will not be playing this part. And I’m sorry, I’m just as big of an optimist as anyone out there (some would say too much of one), but it is incredibly difficult for me to savor and enjoy the scene when I know from the beginning that they aren’t even considering me. I had one of these experiences the other night at a callback, for the Neil Labute play The Shape of Things. After reading the script and getting a handle on the character, I felt like I absolutely had this one in the bag. I mean, I knew the character inside and out. I was living in her. This was going to be the most incredible callback ever! That’s a great feeling, by the way, when you can just enjoy having an amazing callback and not worry too much about getting the part. Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination! Anyway, the callback was kind of all over the place since we had a very short amount of time to get everyone through. I started taking deep breaths, getting in the zone, when I was handed my scene, and given my partner. We had about thirty seconds to read through. And as soon as we went in and the first words were out of my mouth, I knew that this wasn’t going to end well.
My partner and I were not connecting. At all. And they had told us that this scene was all about connections. It was moving slowly, it was clunky and awkward…just not right, and I could feel it. They cut us off really early, and as soon as I walked out of the room, I started praying, “Please, please, please let me do something else. Honestly, you have to. That wasn’t me! I can do better work! I am so prepared for this!” I waited another hour in a stew of praying and bargaining and losing hope and getting it back…until they dismissed me, and kept two other girls to read again. Then my heart dropped into my stomach and I started the long trek home. After crying it out a little, eating some candy, banging my head into a wall, and cursing the skies for a little bit, I took a deep breath and pulled my big girl pants on, and came to this realization:
This is theatre. This is not a job interview. You need the perfect conditions to get a part, and sometimes you just will not have that. It’s not a reflection on your talent or how much the people like you. It is simply a moment in which you can do NOTHING to ensure you a part. And that is outside of your control. Therefore, it has to be okay. I say it has to be because I will literally go insane if I worry about that stuff too much. So you file away the few learning experiences you can take from it, put it in your actor memory journal, and then forget about it and press on. A hard lesson to learn, but I feel so much better for letting it go!