AUDITIONS….Hit me BABY, one more time!

Tomorrow I will walk into a room and dash people’s hopes. I will force people to spew forth their inner-most fears and watch as they squirm in front of me. I will not hesitate in forcing a select few to step forward and swallow their pride. I will expect to see a huge amount of self-loathing, fear, resentment and depression. I will make kids cry tomorrow.

As you might have guessed…it’s time for the High School Musical auditions at Faith Lutheran again. (You thought we were going to war or something!) No, I LOVE auditions, but with it comes a stigma, and is ultimately followed by a small armyof wanna-b actors who “cannot understand!” I’ll have to make sure my brain is well-adjusted, and that my heart is left in my sock drawer that day.

This year we’re tackling many projects at once. It’s “SEUSSICAL the musical” this time ’round, and for those who are unfamiliar, let’s just say it is a spirited romp through the pages of Dr. Seuss. This is also the first H.S. Musical in the new Chapel/Performing Arts Center at Faith. Both challenges present uphill climbs and we will have numerous busy days ahead to say the least.

My wife just closed her play “CLUE” this weekend. What an amazing show. I couldn’t have been more proud of my wife. She remains a constant source of joy, hope and encouragement. I can only dream to have a show with 1/8 as much talent, thoughtfulness and fun as hers.  The students did such a good job too! The audiences seemed to really enjoy it, and the overall post-show commentary was peppered with “best show at Faith,” “very professional,” and “my favorite play I’ve ever seen” – like comments. She set the bar really high and that particular standard will make Seussical a very ambitious project!

So, why then am I looking forward to the onslaught of doe-eyed hopefuls tomorrow, ready to appease me with their riveting renditions of Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpieces and Sweeney Todd adaptions? Shouldn’t I be in the after-glow of the best play ever on the faith stage. Well, let just say that I’m looking at these auditions differently.

I believe every high school student needs the theatrical audition process. This isn’t just a recruiting statement for my classes. I’m happy when they show up, but truth be told a separation of wheat and chaff in the classroom is usually welcomed with open arms by the uber-sensitive teacher these days. Instead, I suggest that the fundamental routines  required of the every-day high school auditioner, is a test of will. It’s a self-disciplined, independent character building workshop. It’s something non-drama people DON’T DO.

How many times have you told someone you can’t sing…and then whale out “Womanizer” in the shower? How often do you proclaim to waddle on two left feet…and then nearly jazzersize in front of the mirror during your morning rituals? We all do. If you have vocal chords, you can sing. If you have muscles and can so much as twitch…you can dance. Some better than others….granted….but for the most part the shear opportunity to put yourself to the test is something that will FREEZE people with fear.

I had a young lady who talked to me yesterday about auditions who literally said “what happens if I faint…or pee myself?” I giggled, thinking she was joking. Her face was white. “Oh…you’re serious!” I said.

What do you do with that? I wasn’t sure…and to this moment, I don’t quite remember what I told her. I only know that this is someone who HAS to get in font of people or she’ll have a stroke if she’s ever in a room when a fire alarm goes off.

I had a friend who has this beautiful dog. Silky coat, beautiful eyes, shining personality. But, if it ever thunder stormed, the do would wet all over the house. It was just frightened of something that was completely out of their control.

Students need to break out of their shells. They need to be IN control…and the only way to test that is to put them into a situation that COULD spiral out of control. How are you ever going to learn how to swim unless you actually get into the water. You can read every book about swimming ever written…but it’s the experience, the practical application….the “nearly drowning” moment that helps you define those self-discipline boundaries.

The private school in which I teach has many students whose parents will NOT LET them audition for the musical, because they HAVE to do track or another sport or activity. These are the same moms and dads whose social life includes get-togethers with the other “richies” in the stands during these meets to “cheer their kids on” …or rather, “hang with the richies and count their diamonds and 100 dollar bills.” Scarcastic? Yes. Overly-dramatic? Sure. Accurate…..oh yeah.

In the Living Skills class at Faith, they have those creepy “real babies” that students tote around so that they can feel what it feels like to be a parent. They are forgotten about in dance class. Abandoned in the lunch room. Stepped on in the hall. It’s all rather silly…but it is a wonderful social distraction and the goofy names the kids give their dolls are really what’s MOST important, right? How far from these antics are some of the sheltering parents of the students in our school?

This may not even remotely apply to your school’s demographic. When I can count the number of Jaguars in the parking lot at Faith and find that the number exceeds that of the average zoo…then I suppose my controlled group would have to remain a smidge skewed. But, for all intents and purposes…I’d hope you’d agree that the average student needs to remain just that….well-rounded…well-adjusted….and average. Before they can be expected to excel in one thing…they need exposure to all things. That’s why P.E. was required of all students when I was in school. You wanna know what else was “required?” The rope! We all had to climb the rope. It remains a nightmare I re-live again and again.

Did I climb the darn thing? Nope. Can’t. But, I tried. Tried hard! I was made fun of. I was the dork. But, how I handled that situation was ultimately the biggest test of that particular unit.

So, as far as auditions are concerned…where does one go when the spotlight is on them? If they run into the wings, they’re masked, but people will still know they are there. Auditioning is everything that a true test of self-worth should be. It challenges you. It requires a lot from you. It puts the pressure on you. And then…it throws you curve balls. (I could argue that the “real world” to an average high schooler might be defined the same way.)

Dosen’t matter what role you get…what only matters that that you don’t look back with regret. If you prepare, and then execute…then you’ve completed your task. If you walk away with your head high…then you’re a success.

On the heels of a successful play…looking forward to a very busy musical…and anticipating a very emotional outpouring at auditions…I can hope to see tomorrow new faces with aspirations of greatness. I can also surely expect to see tomorrow the pool of lifeless, limp, cutetsy little beings. They’ll be in the hallways being stepped on by students, abandoned and made fun of.  Some of these “babies” will find their way onstage someday faced with the challenge of an audition. I guarantee they’ll walk away stronger. If not, they’ll at least be able to run to someone’s open arms who will coddle them and protect them. Either that, or they’ll pee themselves. Even then they get to change and be fresh again.

I assure you, even the best-kep Living Skills doll won’t even receive that benefit, audition or not.

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