Bring Your Weaknesses, Not Your Strengths
Updated: Jan 23, 2019
You walk into class with a tear jerker of a scene, and think you're the next Meryl Streep. Your classmates applaud you. You're such a good actor. You can't believe you aren't famous yet.
Cut to that audition you have later. It's three lines. You have to cry on the first one.
"Oh my god why am I even pursuing this as a career? I can't act! Why can't I cry now?! I cried earlier, no problem!"
Because when the stage directions clearly state that you're supposed to be crying, something happens in us. We go blank and can't recall a single day in our lives that broke our hearts. It's three lines. You were able to cry in your four page scene because you have all of this back story and dialogue explaining why you're so upset in that moment. You feel that character's pain, you know their heart. In an audition, you only see your three lines most of the time.
I just walk in upset? Oh god. Dead dog. Dead boyfriend. Boyfriend leaving me. Parents dying. Dead dog. Okay I think I feel a tear. Hi! Yes I'm ready! Shit. Where did that tear go?
It's like we lose all sense of how to break down a character and scene in an audition. Unless you have the whole script, you probably won't know exactly what is going on. You literally have to make up a backstory for your character and scene. There may be no givens other than the fact that your heart is broken in that very moment. So get there.
I know, I know. It's easier said than done. This is why you practice though. When you have an audition you feel you tanked (you probably weren't as bad as you think though. So cheer up) bring that type of scene to class. Bring your weaknesses to class, not your strengths.
So you can rock a four page scene with a ton of dialogue and character arcs? Great! Set those down for a few classes, come back to them later. You won't be doing a scene like that in your career for a hot minute. Bring in those awful audition sides where three people are talking to you and your role is mostly reactions to three different eye lines. Bring in that audition that had terrible writing and you didn't know how to act with it. Bring in that script that is literally all action and stunt choreography, and you're fighting alone with the air around you. Bring in that three line audition where the world is crashing down on you and you have to feel that when you walk into the room. Bring in scenes that are throwing you off in auditions.
Before you ever get to do a four page scene with a heart wrenching monologue, you're going to have to book one of those roles you're having so much trouble with.
"I wish they could really see me act though! They have no idea how good I am!"
Well, show them. Show them by doing the small roles they offer you a chance to play. Yeah it sucks, everyone is working on these gritty scenes in class and yours is three lines. It'll be worth it though when you start getting callbacks and those avail emails though, right?