acting, communication, family, theater, theater education, theater professions

Auditions: The Journey Begins

Lilia’s first visit on my stage. The Guys and Dolls cast sang “Bushel and a Peck” to Logan because it is a song that I sing to him all the time.

Acting doesn’t run in my family. Well, at least it didn’t. My grandfather and most of my relatives are great storytellers, but as far as I know my cousin David and I are the only ones that turned to any form of acting, or directing as a profession.

Then I had children and they did what I never had the courage to do when I was young. They auditioned and had part after part in grade school and high school. Two of them went on and had parts in college as well.

All three of my children ended up in the speech/communication field. They all three have settled in different areas, but the foundation of speech and rhetoric I believe is at their very core.

I never pushed them to love speech, but I’m very proud that they did.

As you already know, I firmly believe in the power of speech and that God gave us the ability to use that powerful gift. It is a gift we must use wisely.

Flash forward several years (Ok maybe more than several, but time goes by quickly) and now my oldest daughter has taught college level speech classes and poured her love of speech and drama into a new generation.

Then, seven years ago, God gave her a new responsibility and she decided to hang up the college teaching for teaching Logan, her first born son, and several years later, Lilia.

I immediately began to count the years reminding her with each passing one….”Only six more years and Logan can come to theater camp at Overshadowed.” To which Becca would smile at me and say, “Oh, Mom, I don’t know if he would ever be interested in that.”

Then, this week happened. Someone asked Becca if she thought that Lilia was old enough to carry off a part in a musical. We weren’t sure, but seeing as the play isn’t until next year and Lilia will be a little older–Becca decided to explain the process to Lilia. (Who will be 5 next month.) At first, Lilia was NOT interested. Then Becca explained to her how much she loved being on stage and about her first part when she was in Kindergarten! Lilia was hooked.

But then, this story gets amazing. As Becca would teach Lilia the song she would point out notes or words or things that could make the audition better. Lilia would respond, “Ok, mommy, let’s do it again! I want to make it good.”

Proud grandmother, and director here. I gotta tell you. That’s rare.

Oh, that she would stay young and innocent. May she always want to do a good job and not be afraid of the work it takes to get there. May she have a teachable spirit and not be proud and haughty.

It’s tough to stay like that in a field like this.

Mother and daughter worked for over an hour. Keep in mind, Lilia was learning, music and words and character. Then, it came time to send in the video audition. Becca had arranged for someone to come play the piano so that she could film, but the pianist forgot. So Becca had to figure out how to record the audition. In the end, she decided that Lilia would just need to sing it without the accompaniment.

After a few takes they decided on this one.

Well, you know how auditions go. You start telling yourself it’s ok if you don’t get the part. You tell yourself that you might not be right for it. You convince yourself that there is a lot of work involved and maybe it’s better if you don’t get it. We all thought all those things.

But then, we thought about how cute she was and how directable she was and found ourselves hoping, but understanding.

The process didn’t take long. The next day we knew that the director had decided to go with an older girl. When Becca went to tell Lilia she thought Lilia would be ok because she hadn’t really wanted to do it in the beginning. But, when you work hard at something……

Lilia was quite sad and responded, “I’m never going to get to be in a play.”

All this time Logan, the sweet brother that he is, watched and encouraged, and even suggested they get Lilia ice cream that night.

At the end. He said he might want to be in a play sometime too.

Logan on his first day of school this year.

Well, that makes my heart really happy. So next year, I’m planning that they both come up for Overshadowed’s theater camp! Watch out, Illinois!

Here are my takeaways,

  1. Auditions are hard. No matter how much you prepare yourself you just might not be what the director wanted. Try to learn from it and be better next time. (Even though you might not get that part either.)
  2. You aren’t too young or too old. Get out there and try to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but maybe been afraid of. It’s ok. We are all rooting for you.
  3. Auditions take work. Don’t just stand up and sing a song you don’t know. Work at it. Prepare. Make it better. You’ll be better for it.
  4. Have confidence. Even if you didn’t have time to learn all the words. Sing it out and don’t make apologies for voice or time or anything. The casting panel has heard it all and starts to think of them as excuses.
  5. Lastly, always do your best. Try to have fun and whatever happens enjoy the rest of your day.

By the way, when I went to college I had a tremendously thick Southern accent. For only the third time in my life I got up courage to audition. The University had a group called the Classic Players , a group that did only Shakespeare at school. I performed Lady MacBeth’s monologue . You know the one? “Out, Out damn spot.” Now say it again, with a thick accent.

I never heard back other than they didn’t need me, but my cousin, David, (the other one in my family that I mentioned earlier) was on the casting staff. Leave it to the ones you love to tell you the truth.

David said they all held it together as they said good-bye to me…then almost fell out of their chairs laughing.

When someone tells you a story like that is there any wonder why you wouldn’t audition again?

But listen….my God wanted more for me. He continued to mold me and put the desires of theatre in my heart and now…now I can encourage others and make sure they understand how valuable they really are. I think that’s why auditions are so hard for me. I understand the disappointment. I understand the pain. I truly feel bad that I don’t have the room to give everyone a part or the part they want.

Lilia, you are going to be amazing one day….maybe as a dancer, maybe a singer, maybe a mother, but whatever it is you are incredibly special.

Logan, the same goes for you. How kind and loving you are. Always take care of your sister, but know that you are special in your own way as well.

I can’t wait to direct both of you.

One other thing….there is one small payback issue…..

Becca was talking to Logan about my theater. Logan replied, “Well, she doesn’t do that anymore right?”

Becca said, “Well, yes, that’s what she does. She directs. Why?”

Logan said, “I thought she was too old.”

Hmmmmm. Thanks.

Just so you all know. You are never too young or too old. Get out there and do it!

I’d love to know about your auditions! I’m really trying to grow my readers so if you enjoyed this please follow me and spread the word! Thank you!

Until next time,

4 thoughts on “Auditions: The Journey Begins”

  1. Thanks for being transparent with us, Reba – and what a sweet granddaughter you have! I’ll look forward to see both Logan and Lila in a future musical. I’ve always been too afraid of auditions. Afraid of failing. And my worst nightmare (which I have dreamed a few times) is standing on stage as the curtains open, and being dumbstruck because I can’t remember my lines. Being in a musical is a dream at best, but a happy dream!

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  2. I am so grateful to Overshadowed! I have started a wall of framed posters from each of the productions I’ve been a part of. There aren’t that many (yet), At each one I’ve been one of the oldest performers, and I’ve had to accommodate any physical limitations, but I was given the opportunity to do my best , with what skills I have, to help tell an amazing story with all my heart. Out of my comfort zone? Often, A lot of time & work? Definitely. Worth every moment? ABSOLUTELY! I do hope to be a part of another production in the near future. Always something to learn and always someone to develop a friendship with. Always a tale to tell that benefits those who experience the production. Kudos Overshadowed Theatrical Productions (& to Rheba for following God’s lead in doing this). You will always have my support!

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