The Audition Drama Dilemma – Are You Having Fun Yet?

Reading this on your mobile device? Use landscape viewing for an optimal experience

Remember when you were five, and you did really silly stuff like dance around the room in front of your family, or you made up songs to sing, or you created awesome/crappy macaroni art? All of that stuff was great, and you didn’t qualify it as being right or good. You just did it because you felt like it, or it was fun. You made up all kinds of stuff, and most likely, you were proud of it.

Creativity was at an all-time high. You were willing to take risks.

And then you started growing up.

Think about your education. In elementary school, if you had a traditional experience anything like me, you were most likely given all kinds of creative projects as part of your daily education. You sat in a circle on the floor and saw presentations of books, stories, and special things. You had friendly contests where you won something really cool for doing things like finding answers to questions, or guessing how many of something was in a jar, or by reading a certain number of books. You had frequent art projects, and you had music class every day. You had some form of play time every day, and that was in addition to physical education time. You were involved in some form of a play, or variety show. There were assemblies and special school-wide projects in which all grades participated at their respective levels.

When you moved on to junior high/middle school, much of this creativity became elective. You still had to take physical education, but it wasn’t nearly as fun, and there was that whole locker room/body consciousness thing now attached to it. Recess was gone. Daily music was gone unless you chose it as your elective, art was gone unless you chose it as your elective, and you still had assemblies but not like in elementary school. They were more about making the right choices (which is important, don’t misunderstand me) and less about creativity and entertainment as a means to discovery. The school day was longer and yet you were expected to sit and focus without creative expressivity/physical movement for longer periods of time. Being right became increasingly more important, and being ridiculed for not fitting in also increased.

In high school, the trends carried on much in the same direction. Physical education was no longer a class – you were involved in a sport or you weren’t. Music and art were still electives, but you were divided into classes based on your level of skill determined through an audition. Projects in academic classes were less creativity-based and more paper-based. In my schools there was no dance class, only cheerleading and drill team, which were audition-based and had limited spots available. In other words, the availability to be expressive became increasingly smaller, the need to be right and correct became increasingly larger, and the level of judgment also increased. Even if you were very good at something, the focus was on being good at it, not necessarily the joy of being creative. That thing you once did as a kid for fun was either not something you did any more, or now it was something that you took seriously.

The behavioral influences of society, teachers, parents, and/or oneself became learned and expected.

After high school, it was most likely better and worse. More freedom, and yet more pressure. Independence and responsibility inevitably increased, and if it didn’t you struggled. If you went to college and you were a performing arts major, your schedule was ridiculous and you had classes that met for 6 hours a week for which you received one credit (and you hated those people who said things like, “Oh you’re a music/dance major? That must be so easy.”). Stress became your new buddy.

And yet you were supposed to be creative. You were supposed to explore and discover, and while that happened sometimes, the pressure to be right and good prevailed from instructors, peers, and yourself.

And it probably got worse. It’s one thing to be right and good in your own small space, but once you are past the walls of your college, or town, or area and you get a good glimpse of what’s out there, a horrible wash of self-doubt can set in with every decrease in naivety. That thing you once loved, that you did for fun, was now years later filled with pressure and expectation. And while you did intend for it to become your job, it feels like a job.

What happened to the fun?

For years I’ve witnessed the resulting struggles of joy-robbed creatives, frustrated with attempting to survive in unbelievably competitive fields, and I’ve also observed what happens when the fun and exploration is brought back into their lives. It’s a beautiful thing, and in most cases it’s not something that was forgotten, just stifled, pressed far down into a deep place and covered up by judgment. The larger question here is what can be done to deter the elimination of that creative joy in the first place (Sir Ken Robinson gave a great TED talk about this is 2006), but that’s a topic for another time.

For now, perhaps the quickest solution is to perform a self-assessment and see if your creative joy is still with you, or if your performances – yes, even auditions (after all, they are performances) – are no longer filled with joy because they are outcome-contingent, filled with judgment and expectation.

And if you feel like that’s silly because of course they are outcome-contingent, watch what happens when there’s no pressure to perform based on outcome and no judgment. It should be no surprise that the performing becomes more free, more creative, and more committed. So if that’s the case, perhaps you should get back to why you started performing in the first place: because it was fun. You did it because you felt like it, and most likely, you were proud of it. Do that, and see what happens.

I’m giving away free consulting! Click here to get access to my free subscriber info, including marketing tips and exclusive subscriber deals, delivered once a week to your inbox. You’ll also get a FREE copy of my QuickGuide, The Best 3 Ways to Make or Break Your Performance Career, and you’ll be entered into a weekly drawing for a FREE hour of consulting! 🙂