My first time scuba-diving was an exciting but scary experience. I was in the Caribbean with my fiancee, Rob, and we had taken a beginning scuba-diving course on this amazing cruise where we could dive with a certified instructor in the gorgeous Caribbean ocean.
I was a little nervous because my mask would initially fill with water and I would panic, but my instructor - Keri, was her name - was so wonderful and literally held my hand, helping me deal with my mask until it was tight against my face and I could dive down to 30 feet with Rob and the other divers.
On our first dive, we swam with a sea turtle and it was so incredibly mind-blowing. Rob and I went on daily dives after that, and even though I'd have that tug of fear, I'd still dive in. I couldn't wait to get in the water and swim through that turquoise liquid world world. Just amazing!
There's no holding back with scuba-diving. You have to go for it! And this reminds me very much of the audition process.
I had an audition this week for a Lend Me A Tenor by Ken Ludwig. It's one of my favorite plays and is being revived on Broadway.
I did my research, re-read the play, picked a monologue I felt was appropriate, and was ready to roll. But when I got to the audition, I had a little moment of uncertainty. Had I chosen the right piece? Would I be showing them what they were looking for? Should I try a "safer" monologue instead of the character piece I loved?
I took a breath and thought about how some of my favorite actors like Judi Dench still get butterflies. "It's anxiety and fear that create adrenaline, which for me is petrol," she explains.
Many actors refer to it as "the juice," and my coach, Karen Kohlhaas talks about how nervousness is part of life and it's up to us how we choose to use that energy in performance.
And yes, even though I've been performing professionally since I was 14, every time I go onstage, I still get those butterflies, but it's also very exciting and I can't wait to get out there.
It's a lot like scuba diving.
There's no holding your breath. You HAVE to breathe through it. And you have to be alert and aware and open to the joyousness of it all.
And you know, I found that with my Lend Me A Tenor audition this week. I took a deep breath and supported myself and the choice I had made for that audition. And instead of focusing on how to please "them," I went in and took care of myself by doing the piece I loved and had prepared and felt really wonderful with. I followed the action of the piece (Atlantic Acting technique that Karen talks about in her book The Monologue Audition), and just let myself go, not putting anything on top of it, but just letting myself and the character bloom through the words and the action of the piece. It was marvelous! And the gal who was behind the audition table was wonderfully complimentary, even stopping me as I was leaving to say how much she liked my audition, what a great monologue I had done and that I would be great in that role.
It was such a great affirmation and made me realize I have to get back to clarifying and defining my goals, because - heck yeah! - I KNOW what I want! I want to play Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday someday (that was the piece I auditioned with and got such great response). I'd love to perform in Lend Me A Tenor. I want to play many of Alan Ayckbourn's characters in his delicious plays. And you know... I feel like I'm on my way!
Taking a breath... and diving on in! :)