6/21/2012 10:47 AM
This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending an audition workshop at Lamar State College in Port Arthur, taught by my friend Amanda LaVergne. Amanda has several Broadway credits to her name already and will be a part of the Broadway revival of Annie this coming fall. She is not only passionate about her craft but has a heart for aspiring actors, so after hosting a Q&A with theatre students from Lamar this past fall, she wanted to give them an opportunity to hone their auditioning skills. She graciously gave her entire Saturday to coaching a group of about ten participants who each prepared 32-bars of a song and a monologue for critique.
I like to call Amanda my “theater mentor,” because she has been such an encouragement to me during my adventures in musical theater. She is always ready with an positive word, sound advice, and balanced perspective-all traits that she brought to the table during the workshop. As I sat watching these courageous young actors stand and offer themselves up for feedback, I noticed that much of Amanda’s “audition advice” was really “life advice,” and I knew that I wanted to share it with all of you.
Amanda began the day by talking to the students about the importance of preparation and attitude. She talked about how not every audition will end in booking a role, but how each one is chance to lay the groundwork for future opportunities. She charged them to “be consistent, malleable and willing to take direction” and to remember that “the only person you have control over is you.” As I scribbled these words down in my notebook, I thought about how applicable they were to life outside the theater. How often do I get frustrated when people don’t act the way I want them to? Do I welcome constructive criticism or bristle at it?
And the “life advice” didn’t stop there.
Several of the students were apologetic about their performances, saying things like, “I’m sorry I’m not a good singer,” or “I just can’t hit those high notes.” It was clear that their perceived weaknesses made them fearful on the stage. So Amanda advised them, “Don’t get so busy focusing on what you can’t do that you forget what you CAN do.” How many times do we focus on our faults instead of celebrating our strengths? How often do we allow negative self-talk keep us from taking a risk or pursuing a goal? I often get into the trap of comparing myself to others-in auditions, in shows, and even after perusing my Facebook feed, and this behavior rarely results in success. Usually it finds me at home, eating my feelings and having a pity party! Her admonition to “find what it is that makes you unique, become friends with who YOU are and realize that you are something special” is advice I think we all need to hear.
You can be encouraged by Amanda on a daily basis and follow her adventures on and off Broadway by reading her blog at www.amandalavergne.com . And if you are an aspiring actor wanting sound advice on how to navigate the business with class and integrity, leave her a comment! She loves paying it forward and using her personal experiences to help others.
Until next time!