Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Auditioning as a Burlesque Performer

I've been on hundreds of auditions for commercials, television, film and theatre.  I auditioned for the role of "burlesque performer" back in January 2008 two days after my professional debut.  I didn't get that role; I wasn't what they had in mind for "burlesque performer" even though I was the only professional burlesque performer at the audition (and I was barely a professional at that point).  But I've been on so many auditions as an actor that I know the drill.  I've also been on the producing and casting end of the process, and that isn't the most desirable task.  It's tough waiting for someone to show up to solve your casting problems and that person never walks through the door to audition.

I do have to audition for festivals, but I get to send them links to performance videos.  If I have what they want, I get into the festival.  All of my bookings come from networking, referrals, and people coming to see me dance in person.  I got a casting notice from three different sources over the weekend for a new burlesque show being cast by one of my acquaintances.  I figured it would be good for me to go audition.  I haven't been on an acting audition since 2009, and I thought it would be good discipline to go through the process.

I should've gotten the hint that I probably didn't have the edgy kind of acts that were wanted for this new show when one of the regular cast members was surprised to see me at the audition.  I've been spending a lot of time in the world of glamour, and my comedic acts don't push the envelope very far.  But I auditioned, had some time to catch up with a fellow performer, and walked away with some good lessons for situations like these.
  1. While the audition notice may say to bring music on CD, the person who wrote the notice might not be the person running the auditions.  As a dancer, I should've had my song on my iPod (which was on there but went missing before the audition - I should've double checked).  Fortunately, someone scared up a laptop that played my CD.
  2. Showing up early doesn't necessarily mean you'll get in early to change.  Let's face it, I'm not riding in a car in heavily beaded panties.  I carried my costume with me and arrived 45 minutes before the listed start time for the auditions.  We were let into the venue to change 15 minutes after the listed start time and I had to throw my stuff on so I could queue up for my audition.
  3. Try to have a backup song in mind, even if the act is narrative with specially mixed music.  I didn't know what I was going to do if they couldn't find a way to play the requested CD.  I need to spend time outside of a situation like this figuring out what to do if I'm ever in a similar situation again.  What song that I have on my iPod might work?  What song is as familiar?
  4. Get a headshot and resume as a burlesque dancer.  They didn't ask for one, but I should have one in the event I audition for film, television or commercials as Red Snapper.
  5. Always, always, always be gracious and generous with your fellow performers.  It's important to help one another out, let the person after you know that the stage is carpeted or an iPod is preferred.  Share your eyelash glue if you have enough, lend a costume piece if your friend is in need and you are able.  It creates a better community, and you may find yourself in need of a little something someday.  There's no reason to be snarky or try to sabotage the people around you.
  6. Don't let any negative energy attached to your audition haunt the rest of your day.  I noticed as I was getting dressed before my number that one of my teeth was somehow chipped between my Saturday night show and this audition.  (It's not chipped bad, but I noticed it and was truly disheartened.)  This plus the "I didn't expect to see you here" plus the music stress made me feel a little blah for the rest of the day.  I didn't need to feel yucky about it.  In fact, I should've taken my ass directly to the movies to see Ryan Reynolds without a shirt, showing me that everything is still okay with the world.
Will I audition for work again?  Probably.  I just won't be as caught off guard as I was at this particular audition.

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