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Auditions - not the 10th circle of hell

November 17th, 2016.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the passing of a great man who is dearly missed in our Ballarat theatre community. Peter Tulloch was so much to so many of us: mentor, collaborator, teacher, confidante, and role model.

Peter Tulloch

He gave to us endless lessons about the craft and about life. Key among those lessons for me was 'believe in yourself'.




But, how to do that?

Where to begin?

My friendship with PT began at an audition. He was directing BLOC's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and I walked into his audition room to read for Mrs Lovett. I can't begin to tell you how much I wanted the role. I was very well prepared. My audition song was 'Moments in the Woods' from Into the Woods, and at the time, I could have sung it backwards!

PT made me sing the song as Nellie Lovett, a test to see how well I took direction. In the moment, it was quite the curve ball. I did what he asked. And he liked it. But he also had a problem.

I was 28 years old.

I was too young to fit his vision of the show. I painted a picture of exactly how Nellie could be my age, and still know Sweeney. He listened to my point of view, all the while looking at me over the rim of his glasses in consternation. All the logic in the world would not be enough to persuade Pete, that was clear.

Still, I left the audition room a happy chappy. I had had a successful audition because I had presented my song as rehearsed, I had responded well to the director's requests, and I had read the script excerpt without stumbling.

It was a successful audition because I had met the goals I had set for myself.

When you walk into an audition room, the panel is not willing you to do badly. Far from being the enemy, they are on your side. Any production team will want you to succeed because they want to be able to cast their show. They want to be able to cast you.

Your personal goals for an audition can be as fundamental or as advanced as you need or choose. Maybe you're fronting up to your first ever audition, and that can seem scary. Your audition goal might be to simply show up, to walk through the door and have a go. So, turn up and "throw the spaghetti at the wall" to see what might surprise yourself!

On the other hand, maybe you've done your fair share of auditions and you know you've got the walking through to door part down pat - but, what about that part in your song where you really want to show how well you can belt? You're worried you'll try too hard and it might crack. So maybe your aim should be to use some mindfulness techniques both before and during the audition so you can stay focused and not allow your brain to hit the panic button.

Mrs Lovett (Maxine Montgomery) and Sweeney Todd (Damian Muller)

And remember - it's your goal. Set your aim, and don't compare it to anyone else's goal.

Certainly, being cast is a goal in and of itself, but it is also a goal over which you have precious little control. So many variables go into the casting of a show - they have to find an actor who will fit the costume worn by the previous performer, there's a budget for an ensemble of 20 players but not for 21, you might be too tall to be cast opposite the only suitable leading man. Or you could be too young to fit the director's vision for the show.

I'm glad I told Pete my story of how Nellie could be 28 years old, because in the end, the variables that played into the casting of Mrs Lovett shifted to be in my favour...and I'm so grateful they did.

Know what you want to get out of every audition you do, and each one can become your own success. And take with you into your auditions these oft repeated words from Pete:

"Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!"

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