The Work : For The Pure Joy Of It
That's right. Joy.
I just got back from an audition.
I had great time.
It’s my first audition since I finished reading Michael Kostroff’s Audition Psych 101 and I used today’s audition as a test run of sorts.
Here’s what I wrote about Michael’s book for my “May Reads” post (which will come out at the end of the month):
The best book on auditioning I’ve ever read. Full stop.
Auditioning: how are you going to do it unless you know what it is and what it isn’t?
Kostroff fills you in.
I can also recommend his Letters From Backstage.
While I’ve never taken Kostroff’s workshop, he and they come highly recommended by many of my friends and colleagues.
The picky ones.
One of the central tenants—and oft-repeated mantras—of the Kostroff philosophy is,
“I’m not getting the fucking job.”
And this is exactly what I wrote to my agent when I got this appointment:
There’s no way I’m booking this. I am exactly twenty years too young for it and way to WASPy.
Let’s do it!
Since I had been soaking in Kostroff for about a week, I was really ready just to go in there and enjoy acting for seven minutes on Tuesday. No pressure to book. I wasn’t going to, anyway. Remember, I’m not getting the fucking job.
And there were a lot of things in the “Let’s do it!” column:
I liked the character and his story and the story of the play, and—once I said yes to the appointment and started working on the material—I came to love the character and his story and—come on!—that’s just the best.
What a great chance to start work on a part that I’d love to play when I’m seventy, or at least when I’m within spitting distance of seventy. Which fifty-one is not in spite of what a lot of you twenty-somethings may think. Unless you can really, really spit. Which you may be able to do. I don’t know you.
It’s a play, not a musical. I just last week was kind of mentally going over my goals while jogging along the Hudson and “being seen for more plays” is definitely on that whiteboard.
On that same jog, I was going over in my head the casting folks and theatre companies I’d not yet cracked here in New York. This CD and this company were both on that list. Sweet. They’ve just invited me to come act for them. For seven minutes. Guaranteed!
I already have a job with which this job conflicts. And it’s a decent one. Fewer weeks, but better money. Performing principal, not offstage cover for performing principal. The point being, I have a job during this time so it’s not like I’d be adding work by booking this. I’d be swapping one short-term gig for another.
Did I mention I’m really not the right type for the part?
All of these things added up to make it a very low stakes/high enjoyment audition. And that’s exactly what it turned out to be. I had a great time sharing this character and his story (as I saw it) with a director I’d never met, and a playwright I’d never met, and a casting director I’ve never been in front of before. I got to use some of Kostroff’s very practical advice about nerves in the waiting room—a place built especially for being nervous in, really.
And they worked!
And it all went very well.
I got to act today. Seven quality minutes.
Using my experiences in the audition room to better prepare you for yours is one of my greatest joys as a coach. I love this work and would love to share it with you.
Click here. You'll be glad you did.
Christopher Gurr is an American theatre artist and educator known for playing a wide range of roles on Broadway and across the U.S. as well as the more readily accessible reaches of Canada.
Native Southerner, Midwest educated, with chapters in Northern California and southern Appalachia he currently makes his home in New York City.