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Hell Week or, Why Auditions Aren’t for Me

By Arielle Kaplan

Section: Arts

January 23, 2009

diverse-city-1-23-09_page_3_image_0002It’s weeks like these which make me question my choice of profession. The stress, the disappointment, the sleepless nights. I’m referring of course, to the period of auditions for the Undergraduate Theatre Collective, which I participate in at the beginning of each semester.

In leading up to this, I spend a good amount of time in preparation—choosing monologues, sheet music, stretching, etc.This period is relatively calm, and I methodically consider my strengths as I work on my weaknesses. It’s only when I set up my audition times that the panic begins to set in.

The feeling that grips me when I walk into the room and face the production staff is hard to describe. My arms and legs begin to shake and my throat suddenly goes dry. However, when I start to sing, I choke because the dryness disappears, leaving me unable to sing through my suddenly filled mouth.

I never know what to do with my hands either. As a member of an a cappella group, I’ve sat through enough auditions where people stand like soldiers or aimlessly wave their arms about that I know what not to do when I’m in their position. But when I take the floor, my arms just feel awkward and in the way.

When I enter the room, everything I’ve been working on and preparing for the last few weeks seems to fall out of my head. My monologue? Gone. The lyrics to my song? Also gone. Dancing? Oh please no. Even if I know the people I’m auditioning for, I suddenly feel like I’m a complete stranger to the intimidating panel. The funny thing is, when I’m actually onstage performing in front of the audience of 300+ people, there is no fear, no shaking, every note is clear and unhesitating. I’m in my element, and everything else seems unimportant.

I don’t know what it is about the intimate group in the audition room which terrifies me so much when I can do the same thing for ten times that number of people without a care.

However, in order to do that, I have to get through the audition. Those who know me know that I care about what people think (almost too much) and I hate being judged. Again, this is not conducive to a successful audition.

Thankfully, I have improved since my first one, which was over twelve years ago, but the nerves still get me in some way every time.

“So maybe this isn’t for me,” I think to myself as I leave. But then I remember what it’s like in the rehearsals and performances and I realize over and over again that I just wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. By the time you read this, my fate for this semester will have been decided. I know I did my best and that’s all I can do. I can only hope that it matches up with the best for them. And the possibility of that keeps me coming back for more.

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