The Second Act — The Fear Factor

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David Vale of the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

If you want to perform, you have to audition. Whether itís a musical or a drama, unless itís for yourself in the shower, you have to demonstrate to someone what you can do. And the process can be scary. But the fear can be controlled and, in fact, used to oneís advantage. Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter, from having participated in a number of auditions on both sides of the table:

Itís OK to be scared

A little fear is a good thing. Think of all the thrilling things you have done: skied a black diamond, jumped into deep water, flown in an ultra-light. The fear is part of the thrill. The same should be true of auditioning and performing. Enjoy the thrill.

Perfect performances are rare

Your audition wonít be perfect. Maybe youíre just getting over a cold, maybe youíve got a headache, maybe you didnít sleep last night. These things happen when youíre performing, too. And you perform anyway. Donít make excuses for a less-than-stellar performance. Accept your deficiencies as part of the imperfect person you are and do what you can in spite of them.

Itís not you, itís them

Whether you get the part or not may have nothing to do with you. In theater, casting is perhaps the most important part of directing. A director has to select actors for the roles who will portray the vision the director has for the character. Talent is important, but if youíre not a match for the part, talent doesnít matter.

The director is not God

Donít think of the director as the person who has control of your destiny. If youíre right for the part, the director wants you as badly as you want the part. The director doesnít give out roles to good girls and boys. The director does his or her best to match the available talent to the slots that need filled. The director is probably as nervous about making the wrong decision as you are about auditioning.

The audition is not your one and only chance

There are many reasons you may not get a specific role. Itís important that you not place the future of your hobby or career on the outcome of a single event. If you want to act or sing, keep at it. You will get a part if you keep trying.

Itís an opportunity,

not an honor

Itís hard to imagine anyone other than Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. But he got the role because Tom Selleck wasnít available. Being second choice is not an insult. The role is what you make it, regardless of how you get it.

Itís not a favor

It may well be a great opportunity for you if you get the part, but understand that no one is doing you a favor by giving it to you. Directors need performers as much as performers need opportunities. Yes, if youíre selected, you have an obligation to give the best performance you can, but never feel that a director has done you a favor by giving you a part youíre not ready for. Directors donít do that. If you get a part that stretches your skills, itís because the part would have stretched everyone elseís even further.

Not everyone is

meant to perform

You hear stories about actors and singers that get so nervous before they go onstage that they vomit. If youíre one of these, find another hobby. A little bit of tension is natural and helpful in focusing you on the task. Incapacitating tension is natureís way of telling you that youíre not built for performing. If after consideration of all the suggestions and secrets above you still feel the need to vomit, find something else to do. Albert Einstein led a productive life but, insofar as I am aware, he never sang a solo or acted in a play.

David Vale is a past president of the Bigfork Community Players, has acted in about half a dozen plays, directed a couple, and occasionally sings in public. Whether heís any good is a judgement he leaves to others.

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