The ups and inevitable downs of auditioning.
It’s a funny business I’m in. You work for years to hone your craft. You physically and mentally prepare for "putting yourself out there," learning a ton of technique whilst also trying not to lose that raw and unique something that only you possess when you open your mouth to sing.
You think you’re ready - in fact you are ready!
Then you stand in a room and bare your soul to a row of middle class men and have them judge you (often in silence without moving their faces) and sometimes the pressure just gets to you. You forget it all. You lose your cool and dare I say it - panic.
This was me, yesterday actually. Things were going so well. I had learnt 3 scenes of a play and a song in 36 hours on top of teaching primary school kids and oh yeah, looking after my 18 month old son. I thought I was ready. For the most part I was. The scenes were a dream. Considering it was my short term memory that was firing up to deliver this work, I felt like I was acting and not just remembering the lines really well. My inner monologue up to this point was positive, it was telling me to go for it Gem, don’t hold back. I was full of adrenaline that I remember realising was making my hands shake, but it was working with me, not against me. I was in fight mode. Tick!
They asked for the song. I knew it, I know I did. I tried once to remember the lyrics. I tried twice and then a third time to no avail. What was happening to me? If I knew, I would have told it to f*** off sharpish and bring back the me of 3 minutes ago. I had to admit defeat and use the lyrics. (One of the panels lyrics to be precise) Just like that, my thought process switched - my feelings were entirely ones of shame, embarrassment and bafflement rather than being centred in the task at hand. Instead of me acting through the music I plunged into just trying to get the lyrics right. I got in my own way. Fail!
I left that room feeling awful. So disappointed I could have cried. Maybe I just should have. After all it isn’t easy what you put yourself through to get an acting job. The most frustrating thing in situations like this, is you know you can do it. The job, if given to you, would be executed to the highest degree but none of that matters if you don’t bring it in that one moment.
Instead of crying about it I’ve chosen to write about it. To release some of the feelings I left that room feeling about the experience and myself. Feelings that I weren’t good enough, feelings of complete negativity, feelings that I could have prepped even harder, feelings of general harshness towards myself.
This latest experience has reminded me that first and foremost I am human and make mistakes. It has reminded me that I am trying to do A LOT in a short space of time on a regular basic. It has reminded me that I am now a working mother and things (namely friggin song lyrics) are no longer as easy to learn as they once were. It has reminded me how much pressure you put on yourself as an actor - even more when you’re an out of work one. Pressure to make enough money to pay your bills. Pressure to build a varied and impressive C.V. Pressure to compete with new immersing talent. The list goes on and on...if you let it.
So, as I continue on that quest for my next job I know that I want to be kinder to myself during this process. Things rarely ever go entirely the way you envisage and for that reason I need to practise better self care. I need to embrace the glorious mess that I am. It is never easy stepping into a strange room and out of your comfort zone. You relinquish control over your actual being sometimes but I will from now on, try to be more in control of my self talk and leave these bad experiences in the room in which they were created, rather than taking them with me when I go. I can't control what will happen in that moment but I can attempt to control how it makes me feel afterwards..and so the journey continues. I'll let you know how well.