Audition Hell....anyone?

I have always loved auditioning and the audition process...

In auditions I felt authentic even before I knew what authenticity entailed. The  live performance space, (whether it was  an interview, a presentation,  an audition and eventually a performance), allowed me to make and feel human connections that were unlike anything I normally experienced. It was never about pretending-to-be-someone-else.  Instead it felt like being more of myself, authentically. This for me was deep Peace.

This Peace translated  into  Creativity and Space (I realise now); perhaps  because  ‘real life’, felt cramped and confusing. Real life felt Bruising, Loud and was Unspeakable too. Often the rules in real life seemed illogical, and  there was little in the way of  grand ENTRANCES.  In so-called  real life, I rarely  felt illuminated, rather I  squinted in the dark at shadows that looked like skeletons; and dreaded twilight states that  lingered too long for my comfort.  As for scripts, (other people's life scripts), they were at best incomprehensible. Choices seemed lacking, back stories went unexplored and Hurt would not be done at  intermission.  Real Life had no intermission, I learnt.

Comparatively then, an audition was a Zen-ful space; an invitation to be.

Perhaps it was also  something about the ritual process. Performance is highly ritualised.  Every live performance arena I attended had similar rituals. In every country,  city, school,  indoor or outdoor venue that offered itself up to performance. I found ritual and in ritual there was Peace. Peter Brook, states it perfectly in the opening lines of  The Empty Space: "I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged." Poetic. Profound. Simple. A powerfully collaborative aspect of  performance distilled into a simple equation:

"looker" (camera) + "looked at". (actor) = performance

 I say to actors in my on-camera workshops,  "if you will allow the look I will look at you, as will the camera. If you offer me your tricks and  your 'acKting', I will look away".  The actor who  resists this look (often unconsciously),  is only a tad more ridiculous then the DP who chooses to point her camera away from the actor on-set.

However it might appear, the casting director is NOT the audition! I like to think the Actor is, but in truth it's probably a co-creative endeavour.  In live auditions, the casting director yearns to look, the actor desires to be looked at.  The casting director holds  the space for the actor to  audition; the actor then allows more of himself to unfold moment by moment. Auditions are spaces in which Truths unfold, artfully, if we will allow them.

When I  audition I seek to ground myself in my own ritual process until I disappear into stillness and  breath.  Thus  integrated, I become dynamic and fully present; ready to energise  the moment with Creativity and flow.

 

 (Above: Dame  Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen in Trevor Nunn's stunning production of Macbeth, 1979; the production that changed my life forever!)

 

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