“My worst audition”

8 May

In the second of our series of posts about nightmare auditions, actress Rachel Wilcock has written a guestpost about the time it all went wrong for her, and what she learnt from it.

Rachel Wilcock

“It’s a great feeling when your agent calls and says that you, yes you, have been selected to meet with someone regarding a job.

Like buses I went for a few weeks without one casting and then a string of mentally unstable characters in theatre and TV came along. I’ve had to surrender the possibility of ever playing pretty. Recently I waltzed up to an audition beaming as I was called for the pretty flirty wee thing…on arrival I was quickly corrected. ‘Today you’ll be auditioning for Ellen – older, plainer, bitter.’

It was with such delight and urgency that I received a call about five years ago for a musical going to the Edinburgh Fringe. A musical about mental illness. I had it in the bag. A director once told me he was sure I’d been a schizophrenic in a previous life so convincing was my portrayal on stage.

Even now I have to fight the demons of insecurity when you hear the person before you doing their thing

But could this musical really be serious? I hadn’t seen a script so had visions of choruses of “I’m mad, you’re mad, we’re all mad together” running through my head.

The audition – prepare one piece two minutes long and a song of your choice. Simple. I was quite inexperienced in the art of auditioning at the time. But even now I have to fight the demons of insecurity when you hear the person before you doing their thing.

I entered a room and was greeted by a young couple behind a table in front of the brightest light. Almost hidden from sight was a pianist. As a trio they were not terrifying ogres, in fact they were quite pleasant. But that didn’t stop the following 15 minutes going down in history as my worst ever audition.

Now perhaps I shouldn’t be so bold as to profess this yet. I am not yet dead, who knows what lies ahead but I pray I have learnt a lot from this experience.

I started my monologue, one I’d performed a fair few times before, and approximately 30 seconds in I completely forgot what I was doing, where I was, who I was

I started my monologue, one I’d performed a fair few times before, and approximately 30 seconds in I completely forgot what I was doing, where I was, who I was. Now this performance might have been perfect for a musical like this but no – the idea is to cast an actor who can portray mental illness, not someone suffering from a condition. I stuttered and staggered my way through the piece, my brain trying to grab any semblance of control. The audience looked shocked – and not with pleasant surprise.

Next, the song. Surely something could be regained. Except my brain had started to engage with what had just happened.

Singing my Irish ditty I started to focus on trying not to blush, which we all know works so well, and continued to get redder and redder and redder. By this stage the casting agents have signed me over to be committed. Song ended. Brief chat. And I ran out of that room. Back to my house and burst into uncontrollable tears. After finishing four years of training, performing professionally and countless times as a kid, I couldn’t even stand in front of three nice people.

But I could, I can, I will. Sometimes it’s just not your day.”

Have you had a similar experience to Rachel? Tell us about it below.

6 Responses to ““My worst audition””

  1. anactorwrites May 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Rough with the smooth. A cliche but I think one that sums up how we should take these inevitable experiences. I once sang the wrong lyric to the wrong song…. and nobody stopped me!

  2. Elli Donajgrodzki May 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Oh no! Did you get the part?

    • anactorwrites May 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

      No…… which was a blessing for all concerned. I gave up on Musicals after that. Know your limitations right?
      Love your blog by the way.

      • Elli Donajgrodzki May 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

        I guess you’ve got to try out everything to find out what you’re best at? Thanks! Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see us writing about.

      • anactorwrites May 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

        Likewise. Best to you.

  3. Rebecca August 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    Aww we have all been there. I read a book recently called how not to be an actress and in that were plenty of disasters and cringe moments! I suppose it’s good to know that it happens to the best of us!

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Not-To-Actress-ebook/dp/B00EO2J150/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377193414&sr=8-1&keywords=How+not+to+be+an+actress

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