This idea has been on my mind pretty heavy for the past few days.
I was just at auditions for a play. There are many people – mostly kids – who auditioned and will not get a role. And that makes me sad, but it’s just the way it is. When there are parts for 12 kids and 30+ show up for auditions, it’s inevitable that there will be some that won’t get roles. And here’s what I wish I could tell the ones who didn’t get a role this time:
Don’t give up. Try again.
And if you don’t get a role during the next show, try again the next time. And the time after that.
Auditions remind me of the tests the kids have to take in school. It’s one standardized test that every student has to take, regardless of their test-taking skills. I have always been one of those kids that was an excellent test-taker. I could cram that stuff in my brain just before time for the test, and then I would shine under pressure. And my grades reflected that. But there’s a problem with that. Once the test was over, so was the knowledge. I retained very, very little.
Now, on the other hand, you have the students who freeze when it’s time to take a test. When it’s time to actually transfer the knowledge that they actually have in their brain to little filled-in circles on a test sheet, they panic. It’s just too much pressure. Unlike the ones like me who crammed the knowledge in there 20 minutes prior to test time, these kids actually know this stuff. And will probably be able to apply it better later in life than the excellent test takers like myself. And yet – they are the ones who are deemed “failures” because of a score on a test. So unfair. But what’s the solution? What’s the answer to this problem? You got me.
Which brings me back to these auditions.
I know there were kids who were probably phenomenal singers and actors, but being up there trying to present yourself in front of a room full of people and beg them to like you…that’s some seriously scary stuff. Your best self may not exactly show through the fear. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It is. You just have to keep trying. Try, try, try. Over and over again. Eventually, who you are will bust through the fear and everyone will be able to see what was in there all along. If you want something – truly want something – you will make it happen.
And aside from that – sometimes, especially in theatre, whether or not you’re chosen for something may actually have little to do with your ability at all. Sometimes it’s that you weren’t the right look for the part. Maybe not the right height. Maybe not the right hair color. Etc. etc. etc. There are SO many factors in choosing a role in a theatre show. DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! Just get up, dust yourself off, and show up again the next time. Next time you might be exactly what they were looking for.
I’ll use my daughter as an example here. She hesitantly auditioned for the last show at this theatre. She was terrified, but she got up there and gave it her all anyway. And did she get the role? Nope. Not because she wasn’t “good enough.” Not by any means. She just wasn’t the right age for the part. But she tried anyway. And when she didn’t get the role, she graciously offered to help backstage (and did an excellent job I might add). She handled it with grace and didn’t take it personally. (Yet another reason why I want to be like her when I grow up.) And then, with that “rejection” filed away in the past, she got up and tried again. She auditioned for Annie, hoping to get a small role somewhere, and walked away with the lead. She’s Annie. Just like that. She went from not getting a role at all in the last show to getting the lead in this one. That’s how things work, people. It’s a fickle business, this acting stuff.
Kind of like life, ya know?
If it didn’t work this time, that doesn’t mean it will never work. Now may just not have been the right time. For a variety of reasons. But don’t let it stop you! Get up, and try again.
[I’ll interrupt here with a link to an interesting story of a theatre rejection I received once, and the director’s response years later to that rejection. Interesting stuff if you get a chance to take a look. Be sure you read the comment section too – that’s where the good stuff is.]
So back to the point. Yes – try again. Again and again and again. If you want it, it will happen. You may not be the “best” singer, the “best” actor, the “best” whatever. There’s always going to be someone who can do something “better” than you can. That’s just life. But that’s not the point. As Henry van Dyke put it, “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” The point is to do what you can do, and do it loud and proud.
And one day, you will be heard. I promise.
You can pour your soul out singin’
A song you believe in
Then tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang.
Sing it anyway
– Martina McBride
(lyrics to Do It Anyway)