I was looking over some old photos today and came across this great shot I took of some grapes. I remember at the time – before I realised the two bunches were tangled – how enamoured I was at this single red grape that I thought had appeared amongst my green seedless bunch. I should point out to you all that green seedless grapes are certainly my favourite. Had you asked me what I was heading to the table to get – it would not be the red grapes…. and yet it is this red grape that I certainly was not looking for that inspired me to take this photograph.
So often we walk into an audition room with this great worry about what we think the director is looking for: Do I look the part? Do they want someone taller? Should I portray my character a certain way? Does the director already know what they want? Do I even have a chance at this part?
If there is anything I have learnt from years of auditions – it is that you will never truly get an answer to those questions. There is every reason to believe the director has a basic idea in their head of what they are looking for (at least I should hope they have some idea!) but there is also every reason to believe that may change. Ticking all those boxes does not guarantee you the part nor does altering that list deny you it.
I always do my research before an audition – I think not to would be an injustice to myself, my character and my performance. But I also try to be open, honest and fresh when it comes to what I can bring to a role or show. If there is something a good director truly wants to see they will find a way to see it – they will direct me in my audition or perhaps they will send me away or cast me elsewhere. But to let the worry of it detract from my performance or the intention to fit a mould make me a lesser version of myself or my character doesn’t do anyone any favours. And I would much rather be remembered for giving an incredible performance and not get the part than be forgotten for trying to show them the stock standard they have seen three times in the last 15 minutes.
In the words of Bernadette Peters:
“Be original. Because if you’re like someone else, what do they need you for?”
I’m not saying try to break boundaries for the sake of breaking them nor am I saying to deter from the base that a certain character or piece needs to be. I’m certainly not saying to be untrue to a character or your own judgement in the name of originality. But to deny the little choices and to limit your possibilities (based entirely on what has been done before you) could be denying yourself, your director and your audience a great opportunity. Be original, be unique and don’t be afraid to bring yourself and your interpretation into the space.
I should finish by saying that my favourite role to date – I added to my audition form on the day. I was so sure I was the wrong age and had the wrong hair colour and did not at all fit what the director had in mind. And perhaps I didn’t. But I put that aside and walked in there and when they asked me to read I gave them that character through my eyes and from my heart. And wanna know a secret? I got the part.
So yes – A grape is a grape is it not? But whatever colour you happen to bring to it – don’t be afraid to show it. Perhaps that is exactly what your future director is looking for…
…whether or not they realised it before walking to the fruit bowl on the table.