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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Learning Not to Try
August 11, 2013 - 2:58pm

I have been going through a comparatively dry period in my acting "career." I've been auditioning a lot, but except for two small (but interesting) projects I haven't been cast in anything. This is partly because there are a lot of good people, many who are much more accomplished than I am, who are also auditioning; partly because casting directors often have fixed ideas about the appearance or style of a given character and no amount of great acting will counteract that; and partly because I am an inexperienced and unreliable auditioner.

Sometimes I enter an audition feeling calm and confident, and am able to engage fully. At other times, I just go off — I make stupid mistakes, or worse (in the case of improv auditions especially) I become too risk-averse to make any mistakes at all.

Recently, I've gotten some terrific opportunities because other actors who have worked with me have recommended me for roles. You would think this would make auditioning easier, but it can work the other way — the feeling that I could embarrass the person who recommended me can be a tremendous inhibitor. So, at several important recent auditions and callbacks, I haven't been at the top of my game, and was not surprised when I wasn't selected.

I have been telling myself that this is actually a good thing — I'm breaking into a new job, and I don't want to be pulled in too many directions. But I've been up for several amazing projects lately, any one of which would have been well worth the extra stress.

I remind myself that one reason I'm auditioning so much is to get the experience that will enable me to audition with more ease and grace. And I know that none of this has anything to do with my actual skills.  Once I am cast and comfortable with the cast and crew, I always come through. It's just a matter of achieving the same level of comfort more quickly.

Even so, rejection is no fun, and I had been feeling like the orphan with her nose pressed up against the happy family's window. This was compounded when I enrolled in an improv class to find that the other six students comprised a wonderful, tight-knit improv/sketch comedy team who had all decided to take the class together. I had worked with, and really liked, two of my classmates, but I knew the others only slightly, and as much as I admired them all, I couldn't help feeling like an outsider.

That didn't last long, though. They are all so gifted, and so much fun to play with, that I was quickly swept into the fun. It is one of the best classes I have ever taken.

And last night they invited me to join the team. As one of the members put it, "We keep forgetting you're not one of us. Actually, you are one of us — so we wanted to make it official."

I am thrilled — and reminded that sometimes the best results emerge from not trying — from just letting go and joining in the fun.

 

 

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