The Audition

by Barry Drogin

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It starts as a message standing out in a friendly, relaxed, and often intimate environment. Usually only the barest facts are given --- the rest is enhanced by word of mouth. Once the thought of auditioning occurs to a person, he is propelled into his world of imagination, where the future is the present and emotions are the ruling forces. The visions of glory, of praise, and of fear are dominant as he hurriedly writes down or memorizes the few instructions given and moves on to more immediate matters. And as he works, the upcoming date of audition and its immediacy pop up in his mind again and again, until it is a few days before and this stream of consciousness of his too soon performance becomes continuous. He rehearses, criticizes himself, studies and "psyches himself up" by forced optimism and remembrance of past endeavors. He researches into the play and talks to friends about the director, sometimes gathering a small group of supporters to show up with him and try to "well-wish" him through the ordeal.

That morning, he wakes early and suddenly. His concentration has already begun --- his bedroom is handled subconsciously, for that is where his concentration is --- on the subconscious part of the brain, which he now tries to pour the words of his song into indelibly, striving for the avoidance of surface knowledge; rather he should achieve total awareness of his song.

* * *

He slowly crosses the hollow stage, his gait being that of a man ascending a tall ladder: cautiously, nervously, not looking back for fear of shame, and of giving up; taking each step one at a time, knowing that the destination is near yet wondering why it never seems to be in reach. His knees shake, his heart beat continues to throb at a pace that has been steadily increasing over the past hour. His mind is of concentration, passing once more over the description of the character inscribed indelibly in his memory, skimming through the sung to be sung in a low, nervous hum, creating an image, the dimensions of his body having disappeared and transformed into a fictitious character of a different age, a different height and a different weight, with a face that no one has seen before, and that exists only in the mind's eye, hazy but definite, indescribable and yet concise, unreal though creatable. All external sounds seem to meld into one continuous white sound.

* * *

Auditioning is a numbness that encompasses the body.

It shortens one's vision so that the auditioner is left standing in a giant void, floating in space, his eyes set in an upward gaze, watching the notes as they rise from his throat, one at a time, until they have left what has once been his body, becoming a disjoint essence, too late to snatch back and do over, floating along to the ears of the director, where he tears it apart, inspects the pieces, and puts it back together, to be lost and forgotten among all the other notes sung by all the other auditioners.

The audition cannot be taken back and tried again; it is a one-time, one-chance thing. The auditioner must express, within a time span of a few minutes, all the energy he promises to exert from rehearsals on through performances; all the quality he promises he is consistently made of; all the expression he promises is pure interpretation transformed into true feeling; and all the skill he promises to be natural talent and hard-achieved experience. He is sending out a message to the director saying, "I am singing this the way it should be sung. I am able to do more for this part, and for its reflection on the entire play, than anyone else. The part is right for me; I am best for the part. I am the best." His conceit is surpassed only by his determination and desperation over the acquiring of this one part; this audition that could mean the difference between stardom and facelessness, fame and infamy, wealth and poverty, but mainly joy and pathos, this joy being the joy of fulfillment, of usefulness, of pride and of achievement. This may be the chance that will allow the auditioner to say, "I have fulfilled my goal in life. I am satisfied." And yet, he will never be satisfied, for upon reaching his goal he is in a position to see another one far in the distance, practically as unreachable as the first, and seemingly twice as meaningful. And so the auditioner will leap over hurdle upon hurdle, reach goal after goal, and find deeper and deeper joy and inner peace in each and every step. But there will be setbacks; and he will not make it over every hurdle the first, or second, time. But still he will continue on. Even though, maybe this time, he will not pass the audition.

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Last Updated: August 4, 2007