On Friday, I was doing my first full-blown audition in quite some time.
I’m not a big fan of auditions and performance exams (I’ve found the two to be very similar) at any point. This one was rendered, not worse, but certainly stranger, by the context.
I was auditioning to a comedy / media organisation. Their plan is to get inhouse writers to write a bundle of short comic bluegrass-styled songs, and (which is where I potentially come in) form a group to record and film them so they can be used as part of an online campaign.
So I was there in an empty pub gig room at about half-two on a December Friday afternoon, with no equipment set up except a video camera on a tripod, on a brief to convey as much comedy, energy, fun and performance as I could in one bluegrass / country song. And bring ‘as many instruments as you can carry’.
The thing I don’t like about auditioning is the examiners being so bleeding poker-faced and the lack of any other audience. I draw so much from the crowd’s response that it actively puts me off. On this occasion, when I was deliberately hamming up the old bluegrass spiritual Will the Circle be Unbroken to the max, including yelps, exaggerated ‘Hallelujah’s and a whole chunk in the middle where I taught the chorus to the imaginary audience, it arrived at being less off-putting than actively surreal. The most satisfaction I got in the more or less automatic quest for audience response was a bit of smiling and foot-tapping from the woman making occasional notes from the other side of the room (so about 20 feet away), and forcing the cameraman to start furiously swivelling and refocusing his lens when, unfettered by microphones, wires, bandmates or spotlights, I started roving around the stage and left the spot the camera was evidently close-focused in on.
Despite all of which implausibility, I feel like it went fairly well. I was prepared enough, didn’t suffer from a sudden voice fail, memory lapse or breakdown of musical continuity (all real risks doing voice and fiddle solo, when there is really nowhere at all to hide!), and I think I met the brief pretty well. I have almost no way of judging the competition of course. But I’m kind of hopeful for contact back next month.
And for the laughs, I’m more than half tempted to ask for a copy of the audition video …