As we discussed last week about audition preparation, you are “predictably irrational”, and so are other people. So give them, and yourself some slack -says Tom Burke.
I have come to realize that most people are just not good with words. They make not be as specific as you’d like. They may not know how to tell you what they want, and unfortunately they may blame you. This is not your issue.
Sometimes you get feedback that you’re doing something they don’t want, but they don’t know how to convey what they want, so it becomes hard for you to deliver the goods. How is you respond IS your issue.
Maybe you have just auditioned for a theater show or rock band and they are giving you directions which are vague and confusing.
Ask them to clarify what they mean when they want you to be more ‘empathetic’ for example. This sort of direction is super abstract. Empathy brings up 2 things: how I feel about grandma in the hospital, or how I feel about my dog. Give them 2 performances and let them tell you which they prefer. Do they want more grandma or more dog?
Rather than receiving random feedback and throwing caution to the wind by guessing, trust yourself to translate the feedback. You know yourself better than anyone else.
Don’t just assume that because they are the casting director they know better than you. Trust that you are able to respond in the moment to whatever they are asking of you. Learn to enjoy the improvization.
Remember: Negative Feedback Isn’t Personal
If you get negative feedback – invite it into your process. Make it less personal by assessing what is going on.
The casting director actually has very little say. They are worried about their job as well. Their job is to bring the right person into their team. You are the obstacle – either the right person or the wrong person. You can help or hinder.
If they get stressy it’s because they believe you are right for the job but they can’t get you to access a particular character or emotion. They did not train as teachers, so they do not necessarily have access to the nurturing or supportive language you’ve come to expect. They are not intending to be jerks or talk rubbish. They are often exhausted – you don’t realize how many people they have seen before you. It’s not all about you.
Knowing this allows you to walk into the room differently. You can walk into the room full of confidence able to deliver your work to the best of your abilities. You can ask them to clarify their directions then offer them a few different options. You can extend THEM some compassion. You can take control.
Don’t Get Mad, Get Better
Re-evaluate what was within your control and what was out of your control. If you can honestly say you did everything you could that was within your control – drop it. If you didn’t do everything you could within your control, add that to your homework and better yourself.
Everything is easy for those who don’t have to do it. It’s easy to talk about these things, much harder to actually do. All of this advice is given with complete humility, and only highlights what I need to do to develop my personal practice! Thanks for reading.
Tom Burke is a speech-pathologist and voice coach for Broadway, Film, TV and Google. He developed the world’s first online vocal conservatory, Broadway VoiceBox with members in over 19 countries and growing fast. Find out more about his work here: