March. That strange time of year when college auditions are over and baseball is just around the corner.
Wait, what? Baseball? What the heck does baseball have to do with theater? More than you might think (and no, I am not just talking about your school’s upcoming production of “Damn Yankees”).
Battle in the Box
Stepping into the audition room is like a step into the batter’s box. Think about it, you the actor are like the batter. You step up to the plate completely focused on the task at hand. You have done your prep work and know exactly who the pitcher is, what they are going to throw at you, and what you are trying to accomplish. Meanwhile, the pitcher is looking at you with a completely different agenda. They want to see what you can handle and if you can surprise them with your ability.
Sure, sounds a lot like every audition I have ever been on. The amount of focus, the amount of preparation, and the plan you make in order to ace your audition feels an awful lot like those first few moments in the batter’s box.
Then the at bat begins. You take your first swing. You get a piece of it, but hit it foul. The pitcher sees something in your swing and they make an adjustment. How do you handle it? Do you recognize what is now being thrown at you? Or do you do the same thing you already did?
This is no different than any auditor giving you an adjustment on your song or monologue. It’s no different than them asking you for another piece. They saw something in you, and now they want to see more. How are you going to handle it?
So we keep battling away, trying our best to be successful in each at bat. And sometimes we are successful and get a hit. Other times, we fail and strike out. And that, is the nature of both baseball and auditioning.
Fail Like a Hall of Famer
In baseball, failure isn’t only an option, it’s an expectation. Every time a player steps into the batter’s box, there is a HIGH percent chance that he is going to make an out (read: fail). So high in fact, that over the course of their careers, players who succeed only 3 out of every 10 times, can end up in the Hall of Fame.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Boston Red Sox legend, Ted Williams. Considered by many to be one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Williams finished his career with a .344 batting average.
What does that mean? That means that every 10 times Ted Williams had an at bat, he only succeeded around 3.5 times. He failed almost 7 out of 10 times and he is one of the all time greats. He is in the Hall of Fame.
As actors, it’s our job to audition. We audition a ton. We put ourselves out there on a regular basis hoping that we just might get into that school or get that part. We step into that room, give it everything we’ve got, and hope that we crush it.
More often than not though, we just miss it. And we are forced to face another rejection. But what if we can flip the way we think about our “failures”? What if instead of thinking that we have to get into every school or get every part, we realize that every one we do get is an unbelievable success? You might just end up in the Hall of Fame.
Stop and Celebrate
Home runs. I love them, you love them, we ALL love them.
There is arguably not another more exciting play in all of sports than the home run. I mean, picture this… The batter and the pitcher are locked into a battle. Pitch after pitch, neither succeeding. It feels as though this stalemate will never end. Then with one swing of the bat, BANG! The ball takes off on a long majestic arc, out of the park and into the night. It is amazing.
But I think the most amazing thing is what we do next. Because hitting the home run isn’t the end. We stop and celebrate. 40,000 people in that stadium stand and cheer for the entire time it takes the batter to round the bases. Why? Why do we waste a few minutes of time to watch this guy slowly jog 360 feet with no chance of anything going wrong?
It’s because we realize just how hard it is to hit that home run. We know the hours that went into perfecting that swing. We know how many times that batter has failed before reaching that moment of pure bliss. And most of all we know that these incredibly successful moments don’t always happen. So we celebrate.
So when you book that next role, or you get accepted to a school- remind yourself of all the work it took to get here. Remind yourself that you may not be as successful the next time out. But most of all, celebrate this moment of success. You earned it.
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