Alba Navarro Rosales

It is 3 A.M. You lie in bed, half-asleep, the inevitable words flooding your brain: Be confident. Know your performance. Be you. They sprawl in your mind’s eye. The curvatures of the Bs and sharpness of the K are burned into you with the blue light of your laptop, which hums ominously an inch from your right hand. Even with your eyes closed you can see the dizzying fact on the screen: ‘Tips to ace your audition - 2,880,000 results (0.52 seconds)’.

How many articles, blog posts, and forums have you read? You’re not sure. You have been frantically devouring everything you can find on the Internet for the past five hours and forty-three minutes. The acting agents, casting directors, voice coaches, that one failed drama school student who resorts to telling other hopeful actors what to do, now that he has given up all hope himself. They rattle off the same doctrines: Confidence. Personality. Practice. Confidence. Individuality. Originality. Practice ...

As you clutch your audition extract outside the formidably closed door of the Corpus Playroom’s Small Dressing Room, you run over what you have rehearsed in the past thirty-six hours.

Confidence. You can paint the Cambridge skyline from memory with how much time you have spent walking around town with head high, chin up and back straight – that is, you would, if you had time, if you weren’t going to be the next Emma Thompson.

Know your stuff. You have learned your audition extract by heart. You have practiced it in front of the mirror (with appropriate gestures, of course, culled from seven of the most widely acclaimed manuals for actors written in the last half-century). You are word and movement perfect. After all, you are going to be the next Stephen Fry.

Personality. You have got that. Oodles of it. Haven’t your new corridor friends of ten days said that ...

The door opens. Someone emerges. Another fresher. You eye her with curiosity, wanting to know what your competition is like. Light-brown hair. Brown eyes. You take a deep breath. Confidence. Personality. Know your stuff. You walk in; head high, chin up, back straight.

“Thank you for auditioning for XXX. We were very impressed by the quality of acting we saw and regret to say that we cannot offer you a role in this production. Please do not see this as a comment on your skills ...”

Miserably, you stare at your screen. Why? Why? Why? Your stomach churns as you realise that the biggest Cambridge production of the year will run without you. Were you not confident enough? Did you not know your performance? Are you so lacking in personality? Slowly, it begins to dawn upon you, the more shows you aim for, the more auditions you take part in: you are playing a game of dice. Not even a six-sided dice, where there is always a decent chance of landing right. Sometimes it is a twenty-four-sided dice, sometimes forty-eight. Sometimes it does not make geometrical, rational, mathematical sense. Eventually, you realise the following realities:

  • That the song you chose to sing in your audition happens to be the very same one which the director sang in middle school when he messed up the choreography and ripped his trousers before his first crush.
  • That you are the sixteenth consecutive person with dark hair and brown eyes to come into the audition room in one afternoon.
  • That the interpretation you decided to apply to the script cannot be more different from what the director had in mind (you went for evil genius and he wanted tortured puppet).
  • That you are not light-skinned, and do not speak with a British accent (what even is that, anyway?), and aesthetically you would look out of place in a cast of ten white, freckled Londoners. I mean, theatre is about more than acting. It is a visual art, too.

So, lesson learned. You cannot always control the things that affect whether or not you get a part, no matter how good of an actor you are, no matter how confident or practiced. You heave a huge sigh and close the tabs you have up about acing an audition. While your fingers hover over the keyboard and the empty address bar blinks before your eyes, instinctively you type in camdram.net. Mechanically, you scroll down the page and click on auditions. LES MISERABLES IS LOOKING FOR ACTORS!

Your cheeks flush. Your heart beats hard and loud. In an instant you see yourself: Eponine. You simply must go for it. You sign up to a Doodle slot, reach up to your top shelf and take down Wowing in the Audition Room: An Actor’s Handbook. Smiling, you kick back with your coffee and open the book to Chapter One: Being Confident in Auditions.


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