Erin Kleiber, Contributing Writer
I auditioned for my first play in second grade. It went swimmingly, and I landed the titular role in “The Coming of Springtime Rabbit,” a quintessential example of early elementary classroom theatrical production. Thirteen years later, I’m still auditioning for things. Some have gone more swimmingly than others, but one thing has remained constant: Auditions terrify me.
You would think that as a drama and English double major with over a decade of experience under my belt, I would have this audition thing down to a science. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and my poor roommates can attest to the muttering ball of self-doubt that surfaces when auditions roll around.
This past week, as auditions for this semester’s mainstage production, Charles Mee’s “Big Love,” took place, I took some time to reflect on how we prepare for auditions, and what it is about auditioning that is so inherently nerve-racking.
The scene outside the Margaret Jonsson Theatre on the night of auditions is best described as chaotic, and is a testament to the innumerable, unique ways people prepare for the audition process. Junior Drama major Caeli Austin prepares for auditions with background research and text analysis, but also meticulously plans an outfit for auditions based on her study of the character.
“[It’s not] wearing a costume of my character, but something I own that would relate to the character,” said Austin. “If I was auditioning for ‘Much Ado About Nothing’’s Hero, I would wear something that’s sweet, like her. Beatrice would probably wear a pantsuit.” She said that she finds confidence in focusing on her appearance, and it gets her excited, even though it’s something that the director might not notice.
Skyler Patton, who has appeared in every mainstage that she has auditioned for, recommends making an audition as unique and personal as possible.
“Nobody’s going to be upset that you went as far as you can go,” she said. “Instead of trying to do it ‘right,’ ask yourself, ‘what can I bring, what can I show them that best represents what I can do?’”
Paul Fojut, another regular on the University of Dallas stage, finds success in text analysis and familiarizing himself with the structure, style and emotional shifts of the piece.
So why does the process of auditioning have such a bad rap? Austin supposes it’s the high stakes. “No matter how many times you [practice] by yourself, you just have the one time to prove that to yourself,” she said. Patton said that while potentially not getting to be a part of something that you are passionate about is stressful, any audition, regardless of the resultant cast list, is a success because you took a risk and took advantage of an opportunity to do something that’s uncomfortable.
In the end, Austin finds the audition experience satisfying: “If it doesn’t cost you anything, it isn’t really worth doing.”