Vanessa asks: I just got the chance to audition for Disney. I want to go and live out my dream, but I’m worried about being rejected. What do I do?
Hi Vanessa –
Isn’t this always the way? The more we want something, the more scared we are of not getting it, because that rejection hurts so much! But still – we want to try, because we want it so much. So we go kind of nuts!
So I get it. Other auditions are a nice little dog treat, and this one’s a barbecued steak!
So I can’t tell you not to be worried, but I can say that the more you reduce that fright – especially when you get up to audition – the better you’ll feel, and the better you’ll do.
The first – and most important – thing for you to know about this is that Stage Fright is the most common greatest fear in the human race. Let me clarify what I mean: when people are asked in surveys “What is your greatest fear,” and there are answers like illness, death, and losing all your money, they answer “Public Speaking” more often than anything else!
We dogs don’t have as big a problem with this, because we don’t have self-awareness and self-consciousness in the way humans do (simply because our brains are smaller). But I sure see humans freaking out about it a lot, so I can offer you a few suggestions to help you with it (try them out and see which ones work for you, and don’t worry about the rest).
– KNOW YOUR PART VERY WELL. One of the main reasons people get scared on stage is that they don’t know their parts well enough, and when they step in front of the audience, it all goes tail-chasing in their heads. Now that can happen to the most experienced actor or singer, but the better you know your audition piece, the less you’ll worry about that. Even if you think you have it memorized, keep working on it. Here’s a wild idea that can help – try saying the words backwards. Like if I took my last sentence and said “Backwards words your saying try help can that idea wild a here’s!” It’s really hard, and might take you a while, but when you’re done you’ll know the words better than ever before!
– FOCUS ON SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE AUDIENCE. Are you going to be performing with someone else? Just put your focus on them and pretend the audience isn’t there. Or if not, look at some object above the audience, or even at a light.
– PRACTICE IN THE PLACE. If you possibly can, go in to the audition space when it’s empty, sometime before your audition. Do your whole act to the empty house. It’ll give you a feeling of owning the stage, and the right to the place, as opposed to that awful feeling that you’re walking into a new audition space and hoping they like you!
– PRACTICE WITH ANOTHER AUDIENCE. Can you do the audition in front of a couple of friends first? Ideally someone who will even help you with it (“Hey that was great Vanessa, but you got too quiet on that one line”). If you can do this, don’t do it just once. Try it ten times! Remember, your goal is your comfort – you can repay their patience and support later (ice cream tends to be a great method!).
– PICK SOMEONE TO TRUST. Will someone be there you know you can trust to like you no matter what? A good friend or family member, who’s as non-judgmental as me?! Find out where they’ll be, and direct your whole performance to them, as if there’s no one else there.
– THIS WORKS FOR LOTS OF PEOPLE though I honestly don’t know why, but if you just can’t help but see that audience looking at you, and feel totally embarrassed, picture all of them wearing no clothes. Either naked or in their underwear. Lots of people with great stage fright find that this helps loads. It wouldn’t work for me at all – it’d make me notice them more – but hey try it and see what happens.
– AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS… Just remember, this is an EXPERIENCE. The great actor Al Pacino once explained that he never auditions, “I just get another chance to act. Maybe it’s in front of a casting director, but it’s just an opportunity to do what I love.” If you don’t get cast, you’ll still have had an amazing experience. And if you do… WOW!
Okay, Vanessa, those are my best suggestions for now. Except for one thing: Remember why it was that you wanted to do this in the first place. Something in you loves the idea of performing this material. And the more you let that love flow through you, the easier this will be. After all, this isn’t a math exam; this is FUN!!!
In other words, whistle while you work, take a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, and look for the bare necessities!
(Or, to paraphrase MY favorite Disney movie, be a lady AND a tramp!)