Feel the Burn(out)

One of the things I hated about being in school (middle school, high school, college…) was not being able to go on all the auditions I wanted to go on. Until I got to college, I was rarely allowed to miss school for auditions, and I was never the class-skipping type, so usually if an audition fell during a college class time, I didn’t go. Especially at university, this made me feel trapped and frustrated and though I loved my school, that was one thing that made me want to leave as soon as possible.

Now that I’m out in the real world, I’ve been on a ridiculous amount of auditions. I’ve tried out for Fringe shows, films, some things in New York, a ton of local stuff (both professional and not), and, yes, one community theatre. My past self is rejoicing. So is my present self. I’ve been on twenty-two auditions in less than two months. I’m proud of that number. Basically, I’m living the audition dream.

But there’s a downside to all this auditioning that I never saw when I didn’t have this freedom, and that is that I am completely burned out. Yesterday, I had two auditions. One of them was at the community theatre, and though it didn’t go the way I wanted to, it wasn’t really my fault: there are three roles in the show that are exactly, perfectly my type and age range, and I read well, but the director had zero interest in me from the time I walked in the door. It happens and it sucks, but there’s nothing you can do. The other one, though, is a perfect example of the burn-out I’m talking about. I knew I had an audition yesterday. I knew what song I was singing and when I would leave the house that evening to get there early enough. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled home from work at ten thirty the night before and took a peek at my planner just to make sure I knew where I was going, only to see that I was thinking of a completely different audition. The one for the next day (for a great professional theatre that I’d love to work at) involved delivering two one-minute contemporary contrasting monologues and was at 10 a.m.

Crap. I have many, many monologues stored in my head that I can pull out at a moment’s notice, but not a single one of them is actually one minute. While no one stands there with a stopwatch at auditions, my best contemporary monologue- and the one that would have been perfect for this audition- is definitely pushing two minutes, possibly more, and it can’t be cut. Had I not been so rushed and overwhelmed with my crazy previous week, I would have been able to sanely cut two monologues, or maybe even memorized a new one. Instead, there I was at eleven p.m., looking through my personal monologue book and basically going, “That’ll have to do. I’ll just cut here and here and here. Does that make sense? It’ll have to.”

I hate that I had to do that. While it was an honest mistake, that knowledge doesn’t help or excuse that I was unprepared and panicked. When I was limited to only ten or so auditions a year, I approached every audition with meticulous planning and rehearsal. I had things ready days ahead of time so that all that was left to do was obsess over what I was going to wear. Then, when I went to these calls, I was nervous and excited and eager to perform. When I went to the audition for which I was unprepared, I was… tired. I got excited just before I went in, but in the room I was jumpy and forced and my performance was terrible, terrible, terrible. I was in my head the whole time telling myself how terrible I was and worse, I was mush-mouthed. Even I couldn’t understand a word I was saying. The director, who had been all smiles and friendliness when we were chatting, was quickly and visibly losing interest in me.

That audition was a huge wake-up call for me. A few days before, I worked a double shift and ran to two auditions in between. I was unprepared for those, too, but I got lucky and managed to do well. This one, though, could not be saved, and it got me thinking. It is definitely good to go on a lot of auditions. It is not good, however, to go on so many that you’re exhausted and uninspired at the later ones. When I would go on ten auditions a year, I would land a few shows and get called back for most of them. Now? I’ve only gotten one callback and haven’t booked anything. A 3:10 ratio is much better than 0:22. Sure, there were crappy auditions in there and others that I’m sure I just wasn’t “the one” for, but something’s not right, and I think the solution is that I need to cut back.

Doing so is going to be really hard for me. It is not a joke or an exaggeration that I am addicted to auditioning. I will audition for anything, and as I said, I enjoy it, so it’s not a chore for me. But it’s getting to be, and I don’t like that. I haven’t even been out of school for two months. I can’t start getting tired of auditions already. I want to go to an audition happy for the chance to perform, not dragging myself there and thinking about how exhausted and unprepared I am. While I don’t think I necessarily need to go back to my six-to-ten-a-year audition schedule, I do think that I need to give myself real preparation time, not just jump from theatre to theatre and praying that my old standards fit the audition bill. It’s not a smart or healthy way to get myself out there.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to cut back right away. Not going to an audition that I’m fit for is painful for me. I think this is probably like any other addiction, and I’ll have to pull myself away from it slowly. Of course, I’ll still go on more than the average person, because I’m an overachiever. But burning myself out and performing poorly at 98% of the auditions isn’t working, and I need to change that. Now.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. lista de emails
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 19:21:41


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