Doing your 50

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last posted! I sincerely promise you, readers, that this will not be a normal thing. All I can say to defend myself is that I’ve been severely distracted lately.

Last Sunday I went for two auditions. Yep, two. In one day. Talk about a boatload of emotional exhaustion amiright? Years ago I used to picture myself bouncing in and out of audition rooms like it wasn’t no thang, and yet after all the times between then and now that I’ve been told “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”, my progress in the area of Not Freaking Out has been minimal.

I don’t get stage fright. I’ve luckily always been able to saunter into auditions without breaking a sweat or displaying any kind of physical signs of nerves. But it’s the post-audition nerves that get me. I’m sure those of you who are also performers know perfectly well what I’m talking about – you start going over everything you did in your head, wondering if it was good enough. Then you start analysing everything that the casting director said or did that could hint at how they felt about you. You swing alarmingly quickly from being totally confident in yourself, thinking that you were the best person in there, to thinking you were absolute shite. And this can go on for days.

Mind you, I’m probably a particularly bad person to speak to after an audition because I am probably one of the more neurotic people on planet Earth. Right up there with Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine and the mum who’s the subject of that Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom. (By the way, if you haven’t seen that yet, you really need to check it out. Funniest shit ever. And yes, I will probably end up being a very similar type of mother.) This neuroses of mine is the reason that, when I was auditioning for drama schools, every time I came out of an audition and my dad asked me how it went, I would reply with “I don’t know.” Because saying you don’t know is easier – and probably healthier – than allowing yourself to verbally spew all the absolutely insane theories that are spinning through your mind about how you might have done.

Luckily, I have one thing keeping me sane whenever I start to go down this terrifying spiral of self-loathing: the Theory of Doing Your 50.

This is something that was instilled in me when I was gearing up to my drama school auditions by my ex acting coach, Andy Johnson, and it has proven to be my sanity’s saving grace. The theory is based on the idea that every audition is a game of two halves: what you do in the room, and what the director is looking for. Only one of those halves (50%) – what you do in the room – is within your control. That 50% is wholly dependent on how good you are on the day, how you’re feeling, how well-suited you are to the character, etc. The other 50% is entirely out of your hands. That part is based on what the director is looking for, i.e. their own vision for the character and how you compare to it. It’s also based on who else walks into the room that day – if someone who the director thinks suits the character more than you do walks into the room, there’s nothing you can do about that. In the realm of drama schools, the other 50% has a lot to do with the fact that many drama schools are looking to essentially put together a small theatre company, and if they don’t think you “gel” with the other people who they’ve already decided to accept, there’s nothing you can do about that. Maybe they’ve already accepted a girl with brown hair and blue eyes of about your height. Tough shit.

So why is this such consolation to me? Because as long as I “do my 50”, I have done the best I can do. This rule has worked for every audition I’ve done; if I honestly feel like I did my 50, I will either get cast, or I’ll get rejected on the basis that I didn’t fit in with the CD’s other choices. And then there have been the auditions where I’ve walked out and thought “I definitely did not do my 50.” And lo and behold, I didn’t get the job.

This rule even proved true in the case of one of the auditions I had last Sunday, which I heard back about last night. I walked out of that audition thinking that I’d done my 50. I was good. There were some rough bits, but as for the role that I really wanted, I did my 50, and the other 50 was (as always) out of my control.

I was rejected.

And, as I normally do, I asked the director for honest feedback on why I wasn’t cast. She told me that she felt I was better suited for a different role than for the one I wanted – weird, because every time I’ve done this particular play, or sections of it, I’ve been cast as that role – so there you go. She had a different vision for the role. I wasn’t it: the 50 that was out of my control. As for the other role that she thought I was better suited to, she thought I’d gabbled my words when reading for it – there’s my 50. So in this case, sadly, neither half was totally in place, and I didn’t get cast.

So next time, I just have to make sure my 50 is even more secure. Everything else is beyond my control. All of us actors get up and move on, always better prepared for the next one, when we’ll inevitably get rejected again. Because that’s the business we were smart enough to get ourselves into.

We’re all fucking idiots.

Oh, and by the way y’all, I’ve joined the British Heart Foundation’s DeChox initiative. Basically I’ve agreed to give up chocolate for all of March in order to raise some money. Please visit my page and sponsor me if you can! You can do so here. x

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