I don’t have bad auditions.
Wait, that came out wrong.
I mean to say that I am usually pretty confident at auditions. I get nervous sometimes, sure, but never so much that it distracts from my performance. I’m a good cold reader, and I’ve got a handful of monologues that I know really well, that I’ve really done my homework on, and that I can whip out at a moment’s notice whenever the occasion calls for it.
Which is why I’m really not sure what went wrong yesterday.
It was a general audition for a casting agent. That means that I wasn’t up for any particular role, but rather was trying to make a good impression in the hopes of being considered for future roles. No one likes having to do general auditions. They are a necessary evil – and the “necessary” part may be up for debate. But I guess every so often casting directors and agents want to see some new faces, and so they hold generals. And we actors show up because we need to be seen if we ever want to actually get hired. As audition situations go, the general audition is pretty low-pressure. The important thing is to avoid looking like a complete idiot. If you can get a chuckle from the agent during your comedic monologue, you’ve probably done as well as can possibly be expected. They have to sit through a hundred or more of them, so it will take a lot to get a reaction.
The point is, I don’t expect a lot in the way of feedback from these types of auditions. You go in, you get about three minutes to get through your monologues, you say thank you, you leave. You try not to look at the people watching you, because most likely they won’t be watching you. They will be taking notes or something. But I expect this, and I’m a personable guy, so I’m polite and do my stuff and I don’t stress to much about it.
Which brings me to yesterday. Like I said, I can’t tell you what went wrong yesterday. It was my first time auditioning for this particular agent, so I was a little nervous going in. Everything was fine until it came time to start my first monologue, and I found myself suddenly all self-conscious. I mumbled the title and playwright for the first monologue, and then could not focus for the rest of my time. I botched the first couple of lines of my first piece, not so badly that I had to start over, but enough that for the rest of both monologues all I could think was, what am I doing? My second monologue is supposed to be the “funny” one, and it totally fell flat. I was unsure of what I was saying or why I was saying it. I was acutely aware of the agent’s blank stare, and the agent’s assistant’s pen as she scribbled notes. I think I actually directed part of the second monologue at her notepad.
I was so rattled by how the whole thing went that at rehearsal that night I fumbled my way through an entire act before I could get through a scene without completely demolishing at least one line of dialogue.
Long ago I gave up trying to assess just how well I did or did not do at an audition. I’ve landed roles after auditions I was certain I had botched, and didn’t even get a callback from auditions I knew I had nailed. So I am not going to pretend to have any idea what this agent thought of me. But it is going to take me a while to shake this one off.