Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Auditions - the opportunity to showcase your skill set and demonstrate your passion for performing. The most exciting yet anxiety provoking part of the performing industry. And this goes for everyone, child and adult. As we all know that with every acceptance comes countless rejections. Resilience is key and accepting that every audition is an opportunity to gain experience is the 'go to' view point. However, we are all human and this is tough. Of course a failed audition is going to knock a little bit of spirit out of you, make you question if you are doing it right and wonder what else you have to do to get that lucky break. The reality is that it might simply be down to having the wrong look, being too tall or too small or not the best fit with other people that have been successful.
What you aren't necessarily taught is how to enter an audition and be natural and welcoming. The spotlight is on from the second that door opens and you are judged on how you present yourself, how chatty and engaging you are - personality outshining the nerves. The panel are interested and buying into your audition and the flowing conversation begins. The reason that this isn't taught is because it is part of the unwritten rule book of 'social etiquette.' Therefore most people know this stuff and it develops gradually with age through intuitive learning. This is the first stumbling block for J. To him, an audition is the brief which he has worked tirelessly on. He knows the script, he has worked through what emotions are required for the character and has explored the story line and Company through research. What he hasn't been able to do is practice how he will greet the panel as he doesn't know what the room will look like, how far he will need to walk in, where to stand, what the panel will look like, how they will want to be greeted? The unknowns are endless. Therefore, when J walks into an audition he often has a concentrated expression on his face as he takes it all in. The panel move to reassure him to make him feel at ease and the opportunity to engage naturally diminishes.
The audition as J knows it begins and he shows off his skill set. This is the strongest part of the audition and often goes well right up to the point where he is asked to do something 'off the cuff,' or take a different direction. Curve balls are difficult for J to deal with and can take him off guard. He hasn't rehearsed for this. J follows the instruction to the best of his ability but his concentrated expression returns and the character and expression fades away. The audition outcome is often based on these three key areas rather than just the rehearsed main part of the audition alone and this can often influence the decision.
So what can be done? For J we see every audition as an opportunity to gain experience of an audition setting so that he can formulate a catalogue of scenarios in his head. He can then build his confidence around what works for him and what doesn't. Teaching J that a rejection is still an opportunity to gain valuable experience has been a tough but necessary lesson to protect his mental health and well-being as well as keep his passion for performing alive.
J has worked extensively on emotions and how to express them in character. This is not an area that comes naturally as emotions are a minefield for him at the best of times! The trick that he uses is to link an emotion to a real event. If he is asked to perform an emotion he will think of it's link and this will help him to feel and express. For example, he links anger/frustration to Barcelona losing in the Champions League. This becomes more difficult when he needs to read other's emotions and respond to them, this is a working progress!
J continues to work on building himself a character to use when auditioning. This might sound odd but if he has a rehearsed character for entering a room and greeting people that is not too far removed from his natural presentation, this then helps him to engage readily and mask his initial anxiety brought on by the situation. Once he has gained a positive interaction from the panel he is now in a good position to perform the rehearsed piece.
One of the biggest benefits is when the audition is in groups and is over a longer period of time. J is able to observe the group, relax over the time allocated and not feel the pressure of 1 on 1. The panel then tend to see his natural character shine through in this scenario and these auditions often result in a positive outcome.
So, what more can be done to make auditions a level playing field?
Having the assurance to disclose the 'triple A' at the earliest opportunity and have this received positively, with reasonable adjustments put into place without the worry that this will jeopardise chances. After all, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop relationships with their co actors, learn and evolve with the project and grow into their role. All of this, J has the ability to achieve just like his co actors. However, we have so many stories to tell where disclosure has ended badly, through not understanding the conditions that J has or not wanting 'the hassle' of adjusting to meet needs and this has led to us being really quite nervous about being open. The reality is that we don't have a choice as J's condition requires regular medication which needs to be disclosed.
However, we also have positive stories to tell and these are proof that when we all work together, there is a great outcome. J has had some fantastic opportunities gained by being able to showcase his talent on a level playing field. We live in hope that as awareness and acceptance grows of Autism, ADHD and Anxiety in the performing circuit that J and many others that share these hidden disabilities are able to have many more positive experiences.