"I...want to audition the director. I...want the opportunity to be in the room with the producers and the director and get a sense of...Do I want to spend an enormous amount of time with these people?" - Laura Linney, American Theatre Wing interview
We often get so caught up in wanting to make a good impression at auditions that we forget to pay attention to our own experience. Same for grad school auditions. I mean, I don't really care how many fabulous alumni there are or how schmancy the school's reputation...Is this the right program for ME? So we must really ask ourselves as we go through the audition process..."Do I really want to spend 3 or 4 YEARS with these people? Are they reeeeeeeallly worthy of my trust or just blowing a lot of hot air? And do I feel good about PAYING THEM A LOT OF MONEY to help shape me as an artist?"
So, as you’re going in for your next audition or your next job interview or whatever, don’t forget to pay attention to these kinds of questions…
“Am I impressed with THEM?”
“Are these the kinds of people I am inspired by and excited to work with?”
“Am I being treated with respect in this process?”
You have a valuable contribution that you bring with you...your talent. They need YOU!
Don’t ignore the signs and signals that your senses are telling you about the total experience at the audition/interview. It is nooooot worth the time for you, if the entire process is going to feel like TORTURE.
Life is too short to spend it doing stuff you hate...or with people you don't really enjoy working with. Right?
There is always another job out there...lots of them…fun ones…lucrative ones...with fun people…with creative, talented, like-minded folks that will appreciate your contribution to the project and treat you with respect. And if you can't FIND a job like that...then MAKE it yourself...with friends.
Annnnd don't forget that you won't even be AVAILABLE for the awesome jobs…If you’re always taking jobs that you don’t really like. I know it can sometimes seem "smart" to do it for the money or the resume credit or the glory or whatever...and those kinds of jobs can all be stepping-stones to other destinations...I get it...But don't let your soul get sucked out in the process or let yourself lose sight of the prize...the ultimate goal: Getting to do what you love with people you love (and getting paid to do it is nice too)!
And with school…YOU will be paying THEM to attend...Soooooo...
If you want to make sure that you are really going to be happy in that program and feel like you’re spending your time/money/life-energy well…you’d better pay attention to your instincts and listen to your heart. Make sure that school’s got the right philosophy and all the criteria YOU need to give you a good, positive experience…and not just a fancy name and super-famous alumni.
Imagine how awful it would be to end up paying them a lot of money for a three-year-torturous-experience? No thanks! That's why I like to say "Rejection is God's protection."
I mean, say you do get accepted...and you go to a school or take a job that you have certain "reservations" about...once you get over the excitement of getting accepted and feeling like “Ooooo! They like me, they really like me”…then you actually have to GO to class EVERY DAY or to rehearsal EVERY DAY…Is that a place that you’re going to look forward to BEING every day, filled with people that you’re going to look forward to being WITH every day?
'Cause this is your LIFE...and you only get to live this one once. And, last time I checked, schmancyness does not equal happiness.
So as you're auditioning...don't forget that HOW they do anything is (most likely) how they’ll do EVERYTHING. In other words...
“Is the audition monitor/greeter friendly?”
“Is the audition well organized?"
"Are people being respectful of the time and efforts of those auditioning?”
If you are seeing red flags of unkindness, disrespect or disorganization...R.U.N.
If they’re treating you rudely from the moment you walk through the door at an audition or a job interview…you can BET you’re going to get more of the same throughout the process. We’ve allllll had the experience where we’ve KNOWN that there was something OFF about an audition from moment #1...so DO NOT IGNORE your instincts. YOU ARE RIGHT! It's not worth your time/love/blood/sweat/tears/energy to spend three to four years confirming your suspicions.
Everybody's got their own values that are important to them. I've definitely got my own.
But rather than spending more time on my soap-box, I will pass the torch and use some of my favorite inspirational quotes to illustrate the qualities and attitudes I look for in an ideal creative working environment:
"One’s ability to succeed is always proportional to one’s willingness to fail." – Mike Dooley
"Giving positive reviews requires humility…A willingness to be pleased requires modesty and even innocence." – Gretchen Rubin
"To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life." – Samuel Johnson
"Turns out, many people in supervisory/leadership roles have become so afraid of having to act on edgy ideas and dance with uncertainty, they’ve unintentionally blinded themselves to the existence of the very thing they clamor for." – Jonathan Fields
"My hope was to create a space where we all feel comfortable being open about what we’ve been through and what we’re going through, what we’ve learned and what we’re learning, so we can help ourselves and each other." – Lori Deschene, Tiny Buddha
"When people know that they do not know, then people can find their own way." – Tao Te Ching
"Fulfillment doesn’t come from clearing hurdles others set for you; it comes from clearing those you set for yourself.” – Robert S. Kaplan, Reaching Your Potential, Harvard Business Review
"The freedom to make mistakes provides the best environment for creativity.” – Jack Plotnick
"You may want something, work hard to achieve it, and in your process achieve something even greater than your original goal. So don’t get married to what you imagine is the result of your pursuit, just be involved in the pursuit. Besides, you already have a job. Your job is to be a joyful artist. No one can take that away from you…Remember, you don’t know that this job is what’s best for you. Getting this job could actually keep you from getting the wonderful job you were truly meant to get.” –
"Do you want to know why I have an issue with compromising, economizing and settling for less? I have to work just as hard whether the bar has been lowered or raised…Dream even bigger." – Mike Dooley
"Self-reflect on what your true desires in life are. Keep asking yourself if this is truly your desire or just something you think you out to do. Ask yourself if the desire reflects you in the present or if it is part of an outdated dream…You need to be inspired by your intentions and excited about cooperating. Those attitudes will draw support and help manifest those intentions." – Lena Stevens
"When you are on your death bed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness." – Inspiration and Chai Blog
"Trusting our values is more important to taking action than desiring and striving for certain outcomes." – Leo Babauta, Zen Habits
"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great." – Mark Twain
Pay attention. Listen. Observe. Ask questions. Follow your heart. You are right.
Grad school is a BIG commitment. Make sure you are evaluating if they are the right fit for YOU.