Over the last few years, the St. Louis improv community has been growing and growing, which is fortunate for several reasons (number one being that it makes these interviews easier).
Each new Level 1 class at The Improv Shop gets bigger, more people graduate the program, and more teams are formed.
And while this is awesome for the community, it creates a simple economics problem for the theater – as the demand for stage time increases, supply of stage time reaches a premium. As we enter 2015, those who perform in Harold Nights or Long Form Showcases, must audition and earn their spot.
In the end, auditions will certainly lead to more committed teams and higher quality shows, but in the short term, it leaves most of us with a pit in our stomach.
What if we’re not chosen?
I am dying to be cast for one of the new Harold teams. I was nervous Tuesday evening as I sat in the green room waiting for my chance to get on stage. This is only my second improv audition (the first being for the Halloween Sketch Show), but it is definitely not the second audition of my life.
Whether or not we realize it, we’re auditioning all the time. A job interview is just a professional audition. A first date is an audition for love. Going to a party is an audition for new friends. We’re constantly putting ourselves out there, taking risks, and trying out.
So whether you’re getting on stage to audition this weekend or just going to a house party, here are a few tips to make any audition suck less:
Go With The Objective Of Having Fun
Tuesday night, I had the chance to play with five people I typically don’t share the stage with, which made the half-hour audition fly by. A first date or big party is a chance to make a new friend. While it’s easier said than done, walk into your next audition not to succeed, but just to enjoy your time there.
Don’t Overthink It
When the audition ends and you go home, your jerk brain is quick to point out everything you could have done better, turning an objectively good audition into a disaster in your head. But, spending time obsessing over your weak initiation or wondering if you accidentally insulted someone at the party isn’t going to change what already happened. If you leave feeling that you did your best, then no matter the result, write it off as a success.
Don’t Make It Personal
With any audition, there’s the chance you don’t get what you wanted. The worst thing you can do is feel sorry for yourself or blame the universe. In fact, odds are that the decision had nothing to do with you. Maybe someone else was cast because they walked on stage and pulled out an amazing character that tickled the director. Maybe someone else was hired because they offered to do the job cheaper. Divorce yourself from the sting of rejection and feel good knowing you did all you could have done.
Create Your Own Opportunities
If you aren’t cast, you can wait around for the next opportunity or you can do something productive and make your own luck. The more you create, the more doors you open for your future self. In fact, this blog was born because I wasn’t cast in Storyteller. Since then, it’s helped me find new confidence in my improv, land coaching gigs, and even teach workshops. As Jimmy Carrane says, “The only power you have is the ability to create. No person or institution can take that away from you…”
As you progress through life, you’re constantly auditioning. There’s no getting around it, unless you resolve to just stay home (although even there I’m auditioning for my cat’s love). Hopefully you’ll have more wins than losses, but the low times are inevitable. And when they do hit, just remember to have fun, feel good knowing you did your best, take your pride out of the equation, and never stop creating.
Hopefully, I’ll see you on stage.
Photo Credit: Julia Madras and Larry V.
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