Well my lovely readers of PlaybillsvsPayingbills, I am back. And yes, I know, I keep prefacing every blog post with this same (or some variant thereof) sentence/claim: ‘I am sorry I was gone for x, y, and z but I promise that it wont happen again.’ The truth of the matter is that I keep avoiding posting and then I sit down and purge my built up blogs (4, 5, 6 in one day) and then I take another month off. This month, however, was a bit of a different case and it has to do with my second grad school audition (as the third did not happen due to a very serious case of food poisoning/stomach flu).
A very long while ago, I started a very weak and limited journal of my “Journey Through Grad School Auditions” thinking that it might be helpful to those who are curious. But, since choosing to write about it, I felt more and more pressured to actually do well at these auditions and have something to show for myself by the end of them. Now, I am not saying that I didnt take them seriously in the beginning but I was more so choosing to audition because I needed a goal and I wanted to learn more about the process so that, when I am REALLY ready and 100% positive that Grad School is what I want, then I would be prepared. However, with the blog and the family’s sudden enthusiasm with my possbile option to become a college professor (“real job”) after receiving a Masters Degree, the pressure was on. And of course, the majority of that pressure was self-imposed as is the case with all expectations.
Long story short, my second grad school audition didnt go well because it didnt happen. I got a serious case of food poisoning and spent three days with my head in a toilet (and, when not in the toilet, having some alone time/time off from work to dye my hair black – I find that when I am stuck in a point in my life where I feel trapped but I need a change, I change my hair). I would feel sad that I missed an audition, I would feel guilty for not giving you readers a third post on this subject, BUT I do not and it is because of this mantra that I have adopted from this experience: some things dont work out because they were never supposed to at that time. Dreams can last a lifetime. By putting expiration dates on our dreams, we set ourselves up for infinite disappointments.
With this said, I was getting more and more excited/nervous for my third and final grad school audition: Juilliard. Yale went fabulously (though not called back) but I decided to change up my pieces and go with more contrasting pieces that I felt were more “me.” I realize now that this was my first mistake. Shit happens and, as actors, we should be able to adapt and have a strong arsenal of materials BUT its also important to prepare. An actor prepares. My error was not in changing pieces but not preparing them as I ought to have. Now, without too much drabble and too many excuses, I was working a lot and I have no private space to rehearse (as, like a true starving artist, I share a studio with a very nocturnal individual), and I let those two things get in the way of what I ought to have been focusing on.
I dont think that you need a coach to audition for grad schools or even for URTAs and unified auditions of that sort. But you DO need to 1) choose appropriate materials that you LOVE and 2) prepare. I didnt do this for Juilliard. I was so focused on what would “get me in” instead of what “I am.” Lesson learned, Theatre Gods, lesson learned.
The Juilliard auditions were very different compared to the Yale auditions. It was a day long event beginning at 9am with a group warmup and then hours of auditions until the first round callbacks (first round of cuts). I HATE this type of audition because of this: you are forced to spend a large amount of time surrounded by actors preparing for his or her grad school audition. You are surrounded by 100+ young, very talented, beautiful, nervous, rehearsing, competitive, secretly jealous people who will be sizing you up, loud, weird, hilarious, interestng, focused, tired, trying to re-focus, warming up, eating, greeting, mingling, warming up again, etc. Did I mention that it is a long day?
I dont know specific steps for keeping focus because that is strictly I personal thing but FIND WHAT ALLOWS YOU TO FOCUS and let it keep you energized and in view of your goals. When you see other people reaching for your goals, you often lose balance. Its like, in Bikram Yoga: you have to spot yourself in the mirror. You look into your own eyes to give you energy. When you look at other people in the room or compare yourself to them (their postures, their clothes, their physique) you will lose your own energy and eventually, your balance and meditation.
So, I did not make the first round call backs. I know exactly why, too. Poor pieces with poor preparation. I knew it walking out of the room. I knew it halfway through my second piece when I stopped focusing on my intentions and starting thinking: this is BAD. This is just BAD ACTING. Babies fall constantly while learning to walk. Alas, I digress. This does not make me a bad actor. This means that I had a bad audition. The majority of people who go to grad schools audition many many many times. This shows drive, committment, and tenacity. It does not reflect desperation! And, more importantly, at the end of all of this, I realize now that I had lost sight of why I was doing these auditions in the first place. I experienced the process. I also decided that I DO want grad school and it wasnt until after I had these two auditions that I learned this. I had to do them, fail, and really embarass myself in order to realize what I truly want. You never learn what makes you happy, what you need, and what you want until you throw yourself head first and fully into something.
Sigh, grad school. This year is not the year. But Yale and Juilliard, you lovely schools, I will see you next year and maybe the year after that, and that, and that, and that, and….