This week I have had two fascinating conversations about perfection. Both of the conversations were with industry professionals, one an actor, the other a casting director. The actor holds a fierce belief that actors can be perfect for a role. The casting director thinks otherwise. I’m somewhere in the middle.
“Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity.” – Willie Garson
I’m sure there is always something that sets one actor’s audition apart from the others. I’m also sure that for every actor cast, there are many more who could play the part. These actors, if given the opportunity may prove to be even better suited to the role. For me, there is no perfect. What do you think? Below is an exploration of whether or not I have ever been perfect.
My first major professional acting job was a school tour. Theatre in education is a great way to gain experience. Me and one other actor driving all over the country, performing moral plays about bullying and domestic violence. The kids in the audience were so happy they weren’t in class they’d watch anything. In nine months I set-up, performed and packed down over 300 shows, which means I spent over 300 hours on stage. 300 precious, life changing, hours on stage. At age 20, with no formal training and very little professional experience, I must have been perfect for the role, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t have trusted me with so much responsibility.
I don’t think so.
I think in this case more than most, the acting had very little do with my casting. Firstly, it’s not glamorous work. So you need to be insanely motivated. Secondly you need to be reliable. Performing 3 shows a day, 5 days a week without losing your spark is not for the faint hearted. And thirdly, you need to be able to get along with someone that you’ve never met, for nine months, working together everyday.
The real kicker with this job is that I wasn’t the first choice. The actor who was originally cast had heart problems and I got the late call. So was I perfect for the role? Or just available, healthy and motivated? I’m not sure.
If you have found yourself in this position and you are experiencing doubt about your casting read this.
I auditioned for all the major Australian drama schools each year, for three years, before gaining entry to WAAPA. Each year I would prepare my pieces diligently. I was careful to choose contrasting monologues that show my range. I would book rehearsal space at my university, write my lines on butchers paper, stick them to the wall and rehearse late into the night. I thought if I prepare better than anyone else then I will get in. I would convince myself that most of the people who audition are just amateurs who want to get famous. Not like me. I’m a professional. I want to improve his craft and increase the likelihood of a long and fruitful career. That has to count for something!
The year I actually gained entry to WAAPA I screwed up. I was so anxious about the whole process that when the auditioners asked me what pieces I was going to perform I told them the wrong monologue. Not only that, I performed the wrong monologue! Luckily the staff didn’t realise until after I had performed the piece. I went on to perform that same monologue in the call back. So that mistake is one of the contributing factors to me gaining entry to drama school. Was is the perfect mistake? Perhaps. My place in the course probably had more to do with group dynamics and gender ratio but maybe, just maybe, that was the perfect mistake to make.
My first feature
Last year I acted in my first feature film. It was an incredible experience. The smoothy of emotion was at times both exhilarating and terrifying. Suffice to say it was delicious. The thing is, I didn’t audition for the part. Before you cry hack, I did audition for the project, but for another role. In this case the schedule had changed at the last minute and the original actor wasn’t available. So I swooped in and saved the day, again…
The film hasn’t been released yet but I was lucky enough to see my scenes. They’re alright. Are they perfect? Am I perfect? Well that’s for you to decide.
Whether it’s good fortune, perfection, an answered prayer, or a combination of all things always trust your casting.