Our time in Memphis has not been all booze, Beale and blues music. Occasionally, we can pry ourselves away from the BBQ and focus on something that is super important to the Memphis Family- inspiring students.
I recently heard the phrase “never underestimate the impact you can have on someone’s life;” so when I heard that Memphis actors, Christopher Gurr and Lindsay Roberts were going to do a pre-show workshop with about 55 local students, I absolutely crashed the party.
And considering we are coming up on the auditions for the NETworks non-equity tour of Memphis, click here for more details on those auditions taking place in NYC May 6th and 7th, I thought it was appropriate to try and depart some of the advice and wisdom those students took in yesterday in the event it inspires someone reading this on the interweb.
Auditions are tough.
Having been on both sides of the table myself, I can honestly say that what is actually going on in the room is that both parties want the same thing; actors want to do their best and the casting team wants you to do your best. We want you to have fun, to make choices, to be relaxed and confident. So knowing we all want the same thing, here are some nuggets of wisdom.
Fun Fact: Did you know Christopher sang a Ray Charles song for his audition for Memphis? Part of that was he knew that the Main Street ensemble members would be singing off stage during the Beale Street numbers so he chose a song that showed off a more R & B side of his voice.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Lindsay auditioned SEVEN times for Memphis before she booked the tour? As a trained Opera singer, Lindsay used the time in between her auditions to improve on her dancing which ultimately led to her contract offer.
Q: If you don’t feel well, should you still go to the audition?
CG: It depends. Obviously if you are contagious, no one appreciates that. But, in this business, showing up goes a long way.
LR: ” At the same time, you have to make sure you can show up and show out!”
ADVICE: Chris Gurr recommends having the same song in different keys for the days you might not be able to go the distance but you can navigate it in a lower key if you have the sniffles.
Q: What if I don’t like auditions or they make me nervous?
LR: I like to think of auditions as performances, and like any performance, I am the most nervous when I am the least prepared.
CG: Sometimes getting overly fixated on the outcome can make you nervous. (examples were given of students who thought they should play a certain role, were upset when they were cast as something else, only to realize that the role they were cast in was much better for them). Also, there is this idea that I HAVE to do this [audition] vs. I GET to do this. Focus on having a good adventure, regardless of the outcome.
Q: How do you keep things fresh night after night?
CG: Sometimes I give myself one thing to focus on- whether that is something technical like being better at finding my light or a new objective somewhere. BUt usually I just look for one thing, small or big, emotional or technical, and that is enough to keep it alive and fresh.
LR: Gratitude is also a big thing. With only 3% of Equity Actors working at any given time, remembering that you are working and a lot of people aren’t helps keep things in perspective.
Q: What’s the best advice on acting you’ve even received?
CG: “Keep your nut low.” The “weekly nut” is the cost of doing a show each week so if you apply that to your own life, if you keep your cost of living low, then the time between the well-paying gigs and the lower paying gigs and the unemployment time is easier to navigate. If you book that national commercial, don’t spend that money like you’re going to be booking commercial after commercial.
LR: “Be versatile.” The day of the triple threat has come so get training where you need it and improve on what needs improving.
Thanks Lindsay and Christopher!