Acting How To: Handling Acting And Audition Pressure
Answers to various acting questions I get from aspiring actors and actresses.
Q: Hi, I have been acting at a university for a year now. I just got a scholarship based on my performance and I'm feeling the pressure to continue my success. I have an upcoming audition for an absurdist piece and I don't want to mess up. Any tips or advice on how to handle the pressure?
A: Congratulations on your successes so far! It's no small task to get a scholarship in drama and you should definitely take some comfort in that knowledge.
Let me say at the outset that I completely understand your feelings of panic and the pressure of wanting to continue and build upon your success.
Now, stop thinking about it.
Easier said than done, I know. But, to put it a different way, you're putting your attention in the wrong place. Some things you can control, other things you cannot. A large part of whether or not your acitn "streak" continues is out of your hands, so accept that. Then, focus on what you CAN control...
This business of acting is finicky and really hard to hang on to. It's very much like a romantic relationship, we always want it to work out and be perfect, but the harder we try to control it, the further away it seems to go and the faster it seems to get there. Worse though is that sometimes we let it be and it goes away anyway. How would you handle the pressure in a relationship?
As in love, so as in acting...give it room to breathe and be the best person that you can be.
As to the absurdist material, I think I've seen one absurdist play...by Harold Pinter I believe. I found it mostly uninspiring, so I'm hardly a good resource here. From my point of view, it appeared to me that the worse it was, the better it was received by the self-described "intellectuals" after the show. I must not be an "intellectual" however, because I just found it all rather dull. Having said that, I did find some interesting moments contained within, usually some little human, emotional thing that kind of slipped in...whether intentional or not, I'm not quite certain.
Those moments tended to make the experience tolerable for me. As to the rest of the performances, I tended to favor those who were really embracing the nuttiness and just having a lot of fun with it all...almost tongue in cheek perhaps? Those who looked like they were enjoying the experience were, for me, the most infectious.
Perhaps off topic a bit here, at the time I remember remarking to my mate that those little "human" moments I was speaking of reminded me very much of a movie I had seen called "Kung Fu Hustle". A fairly ridiculous, fairy tale piece, but contained within was the story of a young lady who had a "crush" on one of the main characters. When it was revealed that he didn't share her strong feelings, she broke down. It was quite a touching moment, so much so that it stands out in my memory even now. In the middle of this over the top, ridiculous movie was this beautiful, human interaction.
Similar to the Pinter play I was watching, I think someone had been shot and in the middle of the absurdist dialogue, this one actor had a nice little human moment of reaction in the scene. In that moment I actually felt connected to the player and, for me, it was nice.
The point of all this is that, while I don't profess any knowledge of absurdist theatre and it's ways, I DO recognize and feel very strongly that no matter what, one can never go wrong by being real...even if just for a moment. I think even the intellectuals FEEL it...whether they recognize it or not is another matter. I hope all this is of some help, but if nothing else, take solace in the fact that you are where you are for a reason! So, enjoy it! It's acting after all...
Best of Luck!
As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, or would just like to share some of your successes, please feel free to drop me a line. I actually answer them.
Best of Luck out there and remember, you can't fail if you don't quit.