I walked into the room with my guitar in my hands. I had been so intent on making sure she was already with me that I left my audition book on my chair. For those of you who aren't theatre actors auditioning regularly, your audition book is pretty much completely necessary to, in fact, audition. It contains your music.
Upon realizing this, I made some kind of muttering to myself sounds, let the door close as I stepped back out, grabbed my book and went back in. Hire me, hire me, I'm so together. We did the brief chit-chat thing, I chose to focus on the young man directly in front of me. Six people behind the table with another at the piano so I had to choose someone, anyone. As I dragged a chair over to the center of the room, I spoke as clearly as I could,
"Just so you know, this is the third bravest thing I've ever done."
I'd peaked their attention now and even made a few laugh. The woman two people to the left of my chosen focal point person startled me:
"What were the first two?"
Her eyes were so wide, so honest, that I knew she wasn't making fun. Her glasses were lowered slightly on the bridge of her nose in a way that told me she was kind. I smiled at her.
"Ha, uh, we can talk about that later if you want."
Made them laugh again. I took a seat, drew a breath and told them I would be playing some Taylor Swift.
Later that night, he was walking me home. We had just turned onto my street when the topic of my music came up. "Sometimes I think the more classes I take, the more people I talk about the business with, the less I know what I'm doing or think I'm any good. I feel like they took something from me. And with my music - that's mine. It's mine. I don't want anybody touching it or messing it up."
He let me finish my thought before he responded. He is excellent at that. "So maybe that's something you just do for yourself. You don't have to turn it into a career. You still have acting for that. Music could just be for you."
I had gotten through the first verse and refrain when I looked up at the panel of people in front of me, eyes directly on the guy I had picked early on: "Should I keep going?"
"Oh, fuck them!" She speaks in a way I envy, a way that sometimes reminds me of who I think I used to be, sometimes who I think I am. "No, no, no, fuck them. They think they know anything? No. You know that guy on Smash? Plays the director or the husband or someone, I don't know, I haven't seen it. Anyway, when he went in to audition for the part of John Lennon, he turned his chair around and faced backward. He sat in the chair, facing backward and sang his whole song that way. When he finished, Yoko Ono said that's exactly how John would have done it. Guess who got the part? EXACTLY! He did. They don't know anything! You are the one with all the power."
I nodded, biting my lower lip. Desperately wanting to believe her. Desperately wanting to shake myself, to remind myself that I already fucking know this. Wondering what happened that made me forget. Simultaneously angry that I let myself, while forgiving, accepting, knowing everything was to get me to where I am.
I played through the entire song, only looking up that once to ask if I should continue to play. When I was finished, they all had smiles on their faces as though somewhere between the time I entered the room and now, they realized this actually was the third bravest thing I have ever done.
It was later in the week that I realized that was the first audition that had nothing to do with 'them'. That one was all for me. I didn't care if I got the part, only cared that I did this scary thing. I realized that I already knew the answers: all of the things she said out loud for me; that I am called to do something with this music; that I must keep going.
It used to be enough to be adorable. That sounds shitty, I know, but it's true. I did the adorable, well-groomed, put-together, little miss perfect musical theatre actor thing so, SO well. (Google my headshot, you'll see what I mean.) Hell, I could still do it if I was into being masochistic. But I had to quit pinning my hair back and singing the same three songs the same way I had to quit every other destructive-to-myself behavior. When I say 'enough', I don't mean all I had to do to get a job was be adorable - I mean 'enough' for me, for who I wanted to be. There's so much more now and maybe I'll never be in another musical again in my life (I wish I could explain in writing the shock that just sent through me) but dammit, I will be interesting and rough and tired and beautiful and brave.
I will be the kind of brave that sits, shaking, playing her guitar in front of other people.