“Let’s try something different…”

Until a moment ago, you thought your audition had been going well. You were well-prepared, confident, almost a little cocky. But now, at the sound of these four innocent words, you feel your blood turning to ice water in your veins. 

“Let’s try something different…”

Different? I give you my best shot and you want something … else?

The words catch you off guard. After all, you’ve been taught to treat an audition like it was opening night, where your job is to deliver a carefully-crafted performance. To execute, not experiment.

But these are words you could very well hear in a rehearsal room, working with a director. Or in a classroom, working with a teacher. 

And that’s why you’re likely to hear them in an audition room, where the judges want to take the measure of your ability to collaborate, to be flexible and try new ideas.

In my experience, it’s not unusual for the auditioner to approach you with a new idea: “Let’s try something different.” I’ve done it plenty of times, as have my colleagues. How you respond in that moment is a key to your success in an audition.

It’s understandable that you might be tempted to panic and freeze. A ghoulish mob of anxieties invade in your head as your adrenaline surges and “fight-or-flight” mode kicks in. Your body tenses up, your senses diminish, you stop breathing, and you feel yourself spiraling downward into incompetence.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen students collapse like a card table at this request, or else pretend to embrace the suggestion and then deliver a performance that is 99.9% the same as before.

But this is your chance to shine, to show your creativity and your grace under pressure. With the right kind of preparation, you can sail through a moment like this in an audition, class or rehearsal. 

And SAVI Cards have an important role to play in that preparation.

Your prepared audition is like a calling card. Craft that presentation to showcase your skills and technical mastery. Practice it until you can deliver your song as impressively as Amazon Prime.

But then, take out your SAVI Cards and try something different. You can improve your flexibility and your creativity by choosing a couple cards you can use to steer your performance in a different direction. Don’t worry if the card prompts seem illogical: “This doesn’t make any sense! How am I supposed to do that?” Give yourself permission to be weird and wrong; after all, you’re just practicing, right? Let go of that presentation you planned so painstakingly and give yourself over to the suggestion on the cards.

The work you’ve done dividing the song into phrases will continue to serve you well here. Remember, the new card you’ve chosen isn’t necessarily going to be applied to every phrase in your song uniformly. You still want to be able to show the journey of your song; it’s just that you’ll be taking an alternate route this time. 

Do this work in private if it makes you feel safer. Shoot a little video when you’re ready to assess the results. Is your work SAVI? Can it be more SAVI? Go ahead, try again!

Who knows, you might discover some variation on a phrase or passage of the song that you like even better than the version you’re currently using. How cool would that be?

And you’ll be growing more accustomed to the important work of making adjustments based on outside suggestions. If you can be comfortable about that, it’ll make your audition experience a whole lot less stressful.

D’Arcy and I will be demonstrating this technique on Saturday, November 16 as part of the SAVI Sixteen Bar audition workshop we’re offering at the Arden Theater Company’s Hamilton Family Arts Center. Register now to get the early bird discount, available through November 1.