You’ve been simultaneously preparing for and trying not to think about this audition for over a week. You’re confident. You’ll sing your LaChiusa piece. You’ll wear the grey shoes. With the shift dress. You’re fabulous. You’ve got this. They loved you last season. You get to the audition early. You’re in the zone. What could possibly go wrong?
And then you see her. Jenna. You run into her at everything. She’s perfect. She looks like she spent at least an extra hour on her hair. ("I knew I should have packed my curling iron this morning. Ugh, I’m a mess," your inner critic taunts). Her dress is new, and she looks svelte ("The belt! I should have bought a belt. This dress needs a belt. Why did I think I could pull this dress off without a belt?")
“Hey! You look gorgeous!” you burble as she walks toward you.
She slithers down next to you, gives you the once-over and says, “Agh! Look at your shoes. Adorbs. I almost wore my grey heels too, but I just felt like they’d look too formal for this show, you know? What are you singing?”
You mumble the title of your LaChiusa piece.
“Oh, cute. I’m doing my Adele song. They said pop/rock, right? No? I don’t know. My agent said pop/rock, but whatever.”
And quite suddenly, you have the urge to speedwalk to the train so you can crawl back into your pajamas and lose yourself in TLC re-runs. You feel like a failure, and you’re not sure why you even try. You’re about to present the exact same package you walked in with, with about 75% less confidence than if you hadn’t engaged this girl in conversation.
So, what can we do, aside from slapping this girl upside the head and telling her to mind her own business? Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered that help me stay sane during the waiting process of auditions:
Bring stuff to do.
This can be anything you want, as long as it’s somehow engrossing and intentional— books, magazines, journal, Sudoku, a list of things to research on your phone—anything to keep yourself from engaging in mindless chatter.
Talk when you want to, don’t when you don’t.
Of course you should say hi to your buddies when you wind up at the same audition, but be wary of even the friendliest of energy-zappers. Give a hug, smile graciously, and then set up a time for coffee when you can really catch up.
Come up with your “boundary-setting phrase.
Have it ready when you need it. Some examples:
“I really need to get in my zone now.”
“I need to preserve my energy.”
Or even just…
“I think I’m going to read my book for a bit.”
And then DON’T FEEL GUILTY! You are not a diva. You are not being pretentious. You are doing your job. People will have respect for your space, and may even be relieved that you set the boundary, so they didn’t have to.
Leave it alone.
Unless the casting director has changed something in the breakdown since you arrived at the audition, DON’T second-guess your material and wardrobe choices once you get there. You’ll drive yourself nuts with this decision-making process, and, ultimately, your decision to do your 20-bar cut over your 16-bar cut, or to wear your flats over your heels, or the red tie over the blue, won’t make that big of a difference in your audition.
During open calls or longer days of auditioning, when you have the chance to get out of the audition situation, do it! Go to Starbucks, sit in your car and eat lunch, call your mom and talk about anything but your auditions. Escape the energy of the room, and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to go.
It may take some trial-and-error to figure out what works best for you. Above all, it’s essential to be proactive and intentional about your approach to time in the waiting room. Otherwise, you risk letting people like Jenna zap all of your energy before you even set foot in the audition room.