That’s how you know you’re being rejected at an acting audition. Whether you’re performing a monologue or cold-reading a side or reading commercial copy, that quick ‘thank you, please move on with you life because I’m moving on with mine’ is the kiss of death. Sometimes, it’s better to hear flat out silence after an audition because it means you made them stop and think. Or in any case, stop.
And as an actor, you walk out with your mind furiously thinking, “Was I too monotone?” “Should I have spent more time memorizing?” “Maybe I should have been more subtle,” “Maybe I should have tried it another way,” “Maybe I should have tried it drunk,” etc. This is how your self-esteem can start to suffer. It’s in the fact that in addition to what you look/sound like, what your natural tendencies are, and what skills/talents you already have… it’s the fact that auditions are built on choices. ”I chose to think about my mom at this moment, ” “I chose to take a pause at this line, ” “I chose to ignore my partner,” “I chose that those words were trigger words to me, and makes my character uncomfortable/angry/withdraw/jubilant/ecstatic/etc.” Get enough rejections and you start to think, “I MUST BE MAKING ALL THE WRONG CHOICES!”
All of a sudden, every choice you make is fraught with second-guessing. ”I can go out tonight. No wait, I have to meet with David at 5pm. Maybe I should meet you at 9pm instead. Or 10pm? Oh forget David, what about 7pm? Is that okay?” ”I like Crest toothpaste, but everyone says Aquafresh is better, maybe I should try it?” ”I thought this guy was giving me the eye, so I gave him the eye back, and then he made a face and walked away. Should I just have sat there and taken off my underwear and tossed to him instead?” So, actors, who are trained to ‘have hearts as vulnerable as a child’s but to have balls of steel’ are walking around, like wounded Alzheimer’s patients.
Then you go the opposite direction to save your self-esteem. EVERY CHOICE I MAKE IS RIGHT! IT’S EVERYONE ELSE’S FAULT!! ”They’re living in a box!” ”I’m going to make a choice that they’ve never seen! If they don’t get it, they’re scared pussies!” ”I’m going to wow them with my new and outlandish view of this monologue!” Now you’re just an annoying ass. You’re that person at the party who won’t shut up. You are now louder, more obnoxious and self-righteous, and probably as insecure as before.
You go back home to your rental flat, and pet your dog (who is the only one who understands you by the way), and open up another can of baked beans from the 99 Cent Store. You call up your significant other who works in retail/accounting/marketing/some other safer/sane job and they tell you, “Cheer up! You’ll get the next gig! I believe in you!” You don’t have the heart to tell him/her that your choice-making ability is slowly atrophying like your sphincter on too many laxatives over time. You get off the phone (are you paying too much for your cell phone plan? There’s got to be a cheaper option) and return to your beans. (Should you heat them or just eat them straight out of the can?) This is your life. And you chose it.
Wait, was that the right choice?