If you have prepared your audition piece in a way that has given you a strong and interesting intent, relationships that have true resonance, choices that are specific and dynamic, and a technique that has rooted these decisions in your body so you can flow through the piece connected to your energy, then it should be easy to let it all go and just be. And yet actors still find this a difficult thing to do.
To be clear, letting go is impossible for the actor who isn’t in total ownership of his or her work and the piece. After all, you can’t let go of what you don’t have. So let’s keep our focus on the actor who has done the work and who has truly embodied the piece.
One of the primary reasons actors find letting go in auditions difficult is that they tend not to be very good at it in real life. Humans, in general, tend to grasp onto the people and things we love and even cling to our negative experiences, going over them again and again in our minds in an effort to make sense of them. So in order to let go in the audition room, you need to have a frame of reference for letting go in your life and body.
Here are two things you can practice letting go of in your life that will help you get those muscles in shape as well as lighten the load as you travel your artistic path.
Let go of self-judgment.
We live in a toxic self-help/self-improvement culture. The billion-dollar “improvement” industry thrives on the idea that there is something wrong with you. Your body, your hair, your heart, your brain, all can be “helped” if you just buy one more book, one more cosmetic, take one more seminar, or listen to 100 more Ted talks. All of this “help” tends to make us very judgmental of ourselves. No matter how hard we try, there is always something else “wrong.”
How about this: There is nothing wrong with you. You are a complete human being with dozens of qualities, one no better or worse than another. Just qualities, just thoughts just, just emotions, just you—nothing wrong. The next time self-judgment rears its head, simply smile and say, “everything is just fine,” and let it go. Do this again and again until letting go is second nature and you believe, finally, that there is nothing wrong with you.
Let go of results.
As you travel the path of the artist, it’s good to have goals to reach for and grow toward. There’s a lot that is positive about having guideposts to work to in a career that is by nature unpredictable and unstructured. But charting your progress by results can be dangerous and discouraging.
The other day, an actor told me that his goal was to book three co-stars in the next six months. That’s not a goal; that’s a desire for a specific result that, because of circumstances entirely out of the actor’s control, will probably not work out. Enforcing your agenda on the business is not goal making, it’s an attempt to control the uncontrollable. Results are guaranteed to no one.
Here are some thoughts on the differences between goal-focused and results-focused people:
- People focusing on goals tend to embrace the process. People focusing on results tend to want shortcuts.
- Focusing on goals keeps you connected and aware. Focusing on results can create blinders that shut others out.
- In achieving goals, you learn to be flexible and to problem solve. In trying to achieve a result, you become rigid and stubborn.
- Goal-oriented people are present for every step of the journey. Results-oriented people only show up for what they think will get them what they want.
- Goal-oriented people are open to help, knowing that sometimes they’re not the best judge of what is best for them. Result-oriented people can be closed off to any way but theirs.
Goals create positive energy. Striving for results creates anxiety and fear of failure. Goals are rooted in realistic accomplishment. If you stick to your path, results will come. So let go of the need to know exactly what those results might be.
If you practice letting go of self-judgment and stop craving results, you’ll be strengthening the muscles that will allow you to let go of your work and your need to have everything go your way when you’re in an audition. You will be freer and you’ll be able to release your work into the room with energy, passion, and confidence.
Get all of your acting questions answered by peers and experts on the Backstage Community forums!
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.