Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Face Your Fears

A couple months ago, I did something I never do.  Something that I’ve always wanted to do, that I think I’d be good at, but have absolutely zero training for or experience with so it kinda scares me.  It kinda scares me a lot.  It’s a fiercely competitive thing to get into.  When it comes to this, I feel like a sheep dressed up in wolf’s clothing contemplating an attempt to run with the pack.  How foolish; the “real” wolves would sniff me out and eat me alive the minute I step foot into the den.  Still, half of me thinks I just might be a wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing, standing in the safety of the bleating herd when I could be out there hunting with the other wolves.  Well, I’ve never been one to resist the temptation of “going for it” so I did.
I auditioned for musical theater.
It was one of those types of submissions.  You know, when you see an interesting project and you figure it's a shot in hell for you to get in on, but for some reason you submit anyway.  Naturally, they called me in.  Like a real, live, legit musical theatre production.  The notice requested all sorts of things for the audition that I didn't really understand.  (Which is incredibly unusual.  If there is anything I KNOW... it's what to prepare for an audition.)  They wanted me to bring contrasting "cuts" of music, sheet music for the accompanist, and a Brooklyn accent.  I didn't have any of those.  I didn't even know how a musical theatre audition goes... do you sing first, then run the scene?  Can I just sing it a capella since I don't have cuts?  Do I have to announce what I'm singing or just jump right in?  Will they just laugh me out of the room for not knowing what the hell I'm doing?
I was petrified, and I almost didn't go.  I was even in the neighborhood for a casting workshop and drove right by the theatre with every intention of skipping out on this one.  I kept telling myself:  I'm not prepared.  They're going to know I haven't had a single voice lesson in my life.  I don't even have "cuts" of music, what am I going to tell the dude sitting at the piano?  Just sit tight until they bring in the next actress?

Five minutes to my scheduled time and the place is already in my rear view mirror.  But I stopped myself.  I pulled over and had one of those crazy, multiple-personalities of Gollum-type fights with myself:
"Go!  You're already here."
"I have no shot at this one."
"You committed to going.  What are you, a flake?"
"I already blew off the preparation, so I'd basically be heading in with a cold read."
"So?  Hold yourself accountable to the commitments you make."
"What if they laugh me out of the room for being so clearly out of my league??"
"...Meh, who cares?  Just go and have fun.  Face your fear."

So I turned my car around and headed to the theatre with no idea what would happen in the next thirty minutes. Unsure if I would even make it out alive...

Not only did I make it out alive, I drove away feeling more alive than ever.  Even though I was earthquakingly terrified, I sang my little heart out (a capella) and enjoyed every minute of doing something I've always wanted to do.  Fortunately, they were very laid-back and I was very candid about just dipping my toes into the "pool of musical theatre."  They were incredibly complimentary on my voice and look, that it was perfect for musical theatre, and enthusiastically encouraged me to continue to pursue it.  They even had the pianist jump on the piano and run scales with me (my first ever).  It somehow morphed from an audition to a vocal lesson with all of us laughing, playing around, singing with the piano... and it was wonderful. 

I left knowing I didn't get the part, but knowing it wasn't about getting it.  It was about conquering my fear and learning to trust myself and my talent.  It's a lesson we can take home from every audition, even if it doesn't call for 16 bars of contrasting cuts of music.  It's never ever about that one role. 

I needed that night more than I could have guessed.  A couple weeks ago, when my acting coach heard about a role in a musical for which she thought I'd be perfect, she pulled a string with a connection and sent me to audition.  A role in a musical with an award-winning theatre company, written and by produced by big big big television names.  The role that had originally been cast with an actress with oodles of serious Broadway credits, but was lost to a movie.

I spent forty-five minutes in that audition with three songs and four scenes but without the fear I used to feel around the thought of musical theatre.  And while the role ended up going to another actress, they called me this week to ask me something else.

They offered me the understudy to the play's lead!!  So for the next three months, I'll be in the theatre five days a week, working on a show.  And not just any show, a musical.  It's the most professional job I've ever worked on.  And though I still don't know if I'll have any guaranteed performances, I will be working and training as if I were going on stage every night.  I'll be watching and learning from veteran working actors with resumes ten times the size of mine.  I wouldn't have had the confidence to book this job if I hadn't faced my fear three months ago.  I'm so glad I turned my car around that night.  I'm about to get an education.

Look out, because this wolf is letting go of her sheepskin jacket.

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing!!!! I can totally empathize with everything you wrote... even (especially?) the multiple personality self-talk in the car. And I love the happy ending! (Though, I think that just doing the scary thing is in itself a happy ending already.)