Thanks, But No Thanks – Getting the Most From Failing an Audition

You have just received the news that you have failed to get a role for which you auditioned. It feels like the end of the world, you feel miserable, depressed and perhaps angry. These feelings are perfectly understandable, but you have to learn to look beyond them and recognise that a failed audition, if viewed in the right light, can still be an opportunity to learn and grow as a performer.

Failing auditions is a part of life for all actors, no one gets every role that they go for. In fact, in your acting career you will probably fail a lot more auditions than you pass. The first thing to recognise is that failing an audition is not a personal failure, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you or your performance. All that it really means is that you were not what they were looking for in this particular instance.

There  can be many reasons for not getting cast in a role – maybe you were the wrong age, look or wrong size to fit the costume; you don’t have any control over those things, they are simply not your problem. Maybe there was someone else already lined up for the role and you were never realistically in with a chance, it happens – I’d like to tell you that all auditions are decided solely on the basis of acting merit, sadly this is not true.

If you are going to be a successful actor, you have to allow yourself to fail sometimes; accept it gracefully and move on, but most importantly learn what you can from the experience.

Some people recommend calling up after a failed audition and asking why you didn’t get the role. I’m dubious about the value of this, I’ve been on the receiving end of many of these phone calls and I’m not convinced that either party gets much out of these conversations. In most circumstances it is probably best to just accept that someone else was chosen and move on. If you do feel that you absolutely need to contact people following an audition, it is probably better to do it in the spirit of seeking feedback; call and ask whether they have any advice for as to how you can improve your audition technique. If you do this, be prepared to hear the truth. Don’t react badly to anything they have to tell you, don’t enter into debate and don’t try and explain. This is just one person’s opinion.

Remember that it is always better not to get the role than to be the wrong person for that role. Being miscast in a show and not fitting in will be a much more protracted negative experience than failing an audition.

So, what are the positives that you can take away from being told you’ve not got the part? Well, here are just a few:

You’ve had exposure, which may pay off in the future. If you do a good audition, they will remember you. You may get sought out for roles in the future. Leaving a positive impression is very important in this business, there’s always a next time.

You may have met people who can be useful contacts. Never underestimate networking: Other auditionees, people around the theatre may all be useful contacts. Like it or not, networking is a big part of making the grade in the theatre, learn to exploit it, even if you don’t think of yourself as ‘that kind of person’.

You have had a chance to fine tune your monologue or audition material. Use the opportunity to analyse your performance, there is always room for improvement. Try to find out from other people whether they think that you chose the right material to showcase your skills.

You may have had a chance to watch other auditions. If you ever get the opportunity to sit in on other auditions, you should always make the most of it. Analyse what you think other people are doing wrong (or right) and ask yourself what you can learn from it.

None of this will remove that sharp pang of disappointment when you get that phone call or letter which begins “Thanks for auditioning, unfortunately the standard was very high…”. You are allowed to be disappointed – briefly. Then your actorly resilience has to kick in, learn what you can from the experience and move on. There will be other auditions, and other rejections, it’s that sort of business; but if you keep at it, there will also eventually be successes. The people who make it in this business are not always the most talented, but they are the most resilient – keep at it, the next time might be your time to shine.

Source by Gary J. Dooley Ph.D.

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