Dominic Kimberlin recounts the annual whirlwind of start-of-year auditions

Having carefully organised my tutorials to avoid any conflict, marking their times and locations in my diary, I decided to throw all that effort away by going to audition for every play I could think of. Fortunately, my editor wanted an article about auditions, so I can pass off my poor judgement as a form of legitimate journalism, which you can now read. Everyone wins.

Auditioning in St Andrews follows much the same format as auditioning anywhere else. You are given a piece, usually taken from the play, and a period of time in which to prepare it. You then perform the piece. At this point, you may be asked to prepare another, or to perform in a different style, or to leave. This goes on until there is no one left.

Naturally, this can be a little stressful, particularly when there are a lot of people auditioning for the same play. The knowledge that the same monologue you’re working on has been performed by 22 people before you, one after another in front of the same individuals who will then be comparing your relative worth, is a heavy burden. It’s also easy to be distracted from preparation when the speech you’re poring over is being recited in a variety of inflections all around you. To counter this, I often stare at the paper for so long that the words fade into a blurry bolus of dark shapes and I forget what and why I’m reading. This has a limited effectiveness.

After the audition comes the wait, which is measured by the gradual erosion away of the F5 key, and ends with the reading of an anticipated email. There are two outcomes from this, both of which involve getting drunk(er): you have been rejected outright or you’ve qualified for call-backs. Neither of these outcomes will do anything to alleviate the cloud of self-doubt and entitlement, but both will probably involve the checking of the ‘To’ line in the email header, thus enabling you to agonise over who else may or may not have been chosen. (This isn’t always possible; even when the email has been sent en masse, sometimes the identities of other recipients are hidden.)

Call-back auditions combine the crippling self-doubt of the first audition with a new, equally crippling feeling of expectation. They usually involve group work, which is often unfeasible in the first stage of auditions, and this gives you a chance to meet the other hopefuls that you may be performing with. This is nice, as you may begin to view them as pleasant, free-thinking individuals rather than as hostile manifestations of your own failure, usurping your ambitions with their undeserved talent. That evening, as you refresh your inbox between sobs and gulps, you might reflect on the experiences you’ve shared and gain some perspective on what really matters to you.

At the time of writing, I am at the end of a fortnight in which I went to about 12 auditions of various shapes and sizes. I am also at the end of a fortnight in which I drank heavily.


Dominic Kimberlin

Image: nicoleleec @ flickr