Expectations are the Main Source of Frustration

ExpectationsI know this isn’t the self-help-section, but bear with me a moment. Please think about all those moments in your life in which you felt frustration. In how many cases was this connected to unrealistic expectations?

Did you ever expect someone to treat you the way you would treat them and they didn’t? Did you ever expect someone to love you back and, well, yes, they didn’t? All those daydreams that you were sure would come true and – you guessed it – they didn’t.

On the other hand, did you ever meet someone and automatically expected them to dislike you and that is just what happened? Do you keep getting hurt by the same person over and over again?

If any of this applies to you, do not scold yourself, all of these are examples of your humanity. But it also calls for a shift in your mindsets. This might sound easier said than done and yes, in reality, these shifts are the hardest. Granted, it took me years, far longer than the course of my college training.

I feel like the solution to this problem is two-fold: On the one hand, replace your expectations with hope and hard work. On the other hand, don’t fall prey to self-fulfilling prophecies!

And why am I telling you this? Because it all applies to auditions, too!

Replace Expectations with Hope

Here’s my premise: Hope is connected to value.

If you simply expect something to happen, you will not value it, when it finally does. To stay with my example of romance, you will not value a relationship if you simply expect it to happen. And you will not value your partner if you just expect them to be there. You will also not put your heart and soul into your relationship. Get it?

The same rule applies to auditions. If you expect a school to take you onboard, you will not value the programme once you get in. And you will not work your a** off – as you should-  during preparations. If they don’t take you in, it might leave you in shock and with no alternatives.

If you hope for a spot though, not being taken might motivate you to work even harder for your next audition. Yes, it will hurt, but part of you has also been preparing for dealing with rejection. And that process alone is a reward in itself.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

If you expect yourself to fail, you will! Simple as that!

Don’t stand in your own way with these negative thoughts! They will not only affect your own performance at the audition but also how the casting directors see you.

To quote my dear friend – The Audition Rep Matchmaker – , “Maybe the Casting Director isn’t looking at you, because on some level you don’t want to be looked at.”

Maybe it is an act of mirror neurons, maybe – on an unconscious level – the casting director will turn away because he feels that is what you need.

But hooooooold on for a minute! You DO want to get in that programme! You DO want to succeed! And yes, in order for that to happen, you DO want the casting directors to look at you!

So, instead of expecting things to go wrong, accept the fact that you cannot control everything. Instead, prepare for all the things that are in your control and let the universe take care of the rest. 😉

How to prevent panic when you’re asked to improvise

improvImprovise? Me? Naaah, that’s not gonna happen at an audition!

Well, think again, because it just might. 😉 Here are some real-world examples of what I (or colleagues of mine) experienced at auditions:

“Yes, we liked what you just did, so could you please sing it again as a little boy trying to walk across a frozen pond?”

“Please repeat the scene but this time, your left shoe will try to interrupt you!”

Sounds strange? Well, if it happened to us, it might just happen to you. 😉

OH MY GOD, why would they do this to me?

Hold your horses and (as always), don’t panic! The casting directors (meaning your potential teachers) only want to give you a chance to show how creative you are and help you get out of your head. They want to find out if they can work with you and if you are open to directions. Think about it, if you were considering a student for your performing arts programme, wouldn’t you want someone who responds to your notes instead of someone who is stuck in their ways?

So in reality, they aren’t doing this TO you, they are doing it FOR you. This way, you can show them what you can do in another way, so take the chance!

Also remind yourself again (and again) that they are not expecting you to be perfect but that they are expecting you to try! So be bold, be brave and don’t second-guess your choices!

Okay, I get that but how do I prepare for this?

Obviously, there is no way for you to be prepared for ALL scenarios they could possibly throw at you because honestly, there are at least a gazillion! 😉 But don’t worry, there are (at least…) two ways to improve your improv skills.

One way is to participate in improv classes. I bet there are groups in your area that meet on a regular basis. There, you will learn improv games that get your creative juices flowing. It will teach you not to suppress your impulses and stay flexible at the audition. Even if you are NOT asked to improvise at the audition, it will also inform the rep you are preparing.

The second way is to work or play with kids. Why? Because kids have unlimited imagination. I believe that is because they don’t care about conventions determined by society. And when they play a game, they don’t care if pigs can actually fly in real life. The sky is the limit! And being around kids will definitely help you find that place within yourself again and you might even have fun at the same time! 😉

So, what now?

What are you waiting for? Book your classes and find those kids! (And no, I’m not suggesting you should pick up kids from the playground. :-p)

Trust me, fortune favours the brave!

I can’t really explain it, I haven’t got the words
It’s a feeling that you can’t control
I suppose it’s like forgetting, losing who you are
And at the same time, something makes you whole“
– “Electricity” from Billy Elliot

Last week, I went to the cinema to watch La La Land. But don’t worry, I don’t want to bore you with a list of the film’s assets, I want to tell you about the effect it had on me:

There was one scene (again, don’t worry, NO spoiler alert here ;-)) during which I completely forgot I was in the cinema. Only when the scene was over, I noticed the people around me again. There was another scene after which I wanted to break into applause because I forgot that the performance wasn’t live.

Isn’t that exactly the impact we want to have on our audiences? We want the audience to forget the world around them, don’t we? We want to cast a spell over our viewers. But how exactly can that be done? Is there a recipe? Yes and no!

Of course, you need the necessary talent and craftsmanship but you also need faith. Not only faith in yourself and your fellow actors but also faith in the fact that everything is going to be okay once you let go.

And when you start getting out of your head and let everything take its course, then you will feel that feeling. There are many words to describe it. You are vulnerable und that makes you strong. You are mad and angry, you fight for bare survival… and you feel larger than life. It is a little different for everybody. However, this feeling will only occur if you are willing to open up.

As in love, fortune favours the brave. If you never risk anything, you can’t get hurt. But if you build a wall around yourself, you will never be able to reach anyone. If you’re brave, you will risk being hurt deeply but you will also risk happiness.

You could argue now that prudence and reason are important (and yes, last week we talked all about making reasonable decisions) but on stage (as in life) we need to learn to listen to our guts.

This is why I’m asking all of you to trust your insticts and free yourself from the supposed expectations of others because only then YOU can be free. And THEN the magic will happen.

Is musical theatre the right career for you? Or: Do you need applause to breathe?

ApplausIn November, we talked all about what you need to do before even thinking about repertoire for auditions. The organisation alone is a big pile of work. That’s exactly why you should ask yourself – even before entering the entire audition process – if you have it in you to see your career choices through or if it should stay a hobby for you.

In this case, I’m not talking about your technique and qualifications. For all I care, you can belt up to high C and turn five perfect pirouettes but without the right attitude, you will not last for long in this job.

Don’t worry, I don’t want to put you off. All I want is that you know what you’re getting into. You simply have to be aware of the fact that you need to make certain sacrifices for the arts. And the earlier you realise that, the better.

Competition is fierce and you will need to prove yourself over and over again. Especially actresses are thick on the ground. (I was once invited to an audition of Spamalot during which four men and three women for the ensemble were supposed to be cast. There were about 60 people there, 45 of them were female.) Based on mathematics alone, men have better chances but that doesn’t mean the level is lower. And mind you, nobody cares about maths during an audition. 😉

It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been in the business, you will always have to go to auditions and your contracts will always be temporary. Even when you’re lucky enough to get a one-year contract, you will always have to send out applications afterwards. This process of uncertainty alone can ruin your nerves. And the fact that you got into college does not guarantee a job after school.

Some actors have the opportunity of living in one place and only need to leave it for rehearsal periods or summer jobs. Others get a much sought-after one-year contract with a state theatre or an en suite musical and therefore possibly need to rethink their personal situation. If you are a family person through and through and want to have kids early, you will have to make compromises. (I know, it’s not a decision you have to make right now but it will come to you sooner or later.)

Do you want to do nothing but act in musicals or would you be willing to work as an assistant director? Can you imagine doing voiceovers? Do you only want to work on stage or can you also imagine standing in front of a camera? Is teaching an option for you? Would you have a problem with working odd jobs or receiving benefits to stay afloat? Because it’s clear as day that you will also have to pay your bills in between jobs.

Okay, enough with the negativity now. 😉 TinkerbellIf your heart is set on the theatre, all this will be worth it! Because when you’re up on stage and feel absolutely free there and there’s nothing like it for you, you will find your way there! Because we’re all a bit like Tinkerbell, we need the applause to breathe!