Performing when you are an introvert with talent is hard. The first takes much from the second.
Memories of my stellar moments
Years ago, I did a lot of auditioning for musical theatre in Los Angeles. Usually they let you sing no more than 16 bars. The game was to get as much out before the inevitable, “Thank you very much, next!” was uttered. I developed quite a phobia with the anxiety of proving myself before THE WORDS FROM ON HIGH WERE SPOKEN. I was doomed before I started.
The day hadn’t started out well. I had a cold sore which I tried to cover with a bit of calamine lotion. “You have something on your face, dear,” from the other actress’ didn’t help either. This was when the musical, Annie, was popular. I was going to sing, The Sun will come out Tomorrow. Unfortunately, I overheard the director say, “If one more person sings, The Sun will come out Tomorrow, I will kill myself.”
Had I prepared anything else? I had not.
In my embarrassment, I started out at a faster pace than I meant to; the accompanist sped up in an effort to match me. I sang faster.
“Don’t look at the accompanist, it is unprofessional,” I told myself, in full panic, elbowing the cricket out of my way. I love you tomorrow…
I was unconsciously going faster and faster, and the accompanist with an alarmed expression, I’m sure, was trying to keep up; you’re only a day away!
When I was a young actress, all our teachers would say, “never look at the accompanist when you perform, it’s unprofessional. Horrors! The word unprofessional, it was the bane of every young actor.
Unprofessional unprofessional unprofessional unprofessional
But it was too late. I looked.
I had The Lady of Shalloted myself in the foot.
…Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
If this reference is too obscure, there is always Orpheus looking back at his wife, Eurydice, as he leads her out of the underworld; this, after he was expressly warned not to look at her or she would be lost forever. Or there is Lot’s wife turning into a pile of salt when told, do not look back, I repeat do not look back.
I mean, really, who could resist? I had to look.
Come to think of it, I think this was the audition where I didn’t get the “thank you very much, next!” I think the director looked at me with undisguised contempt and told me to” have a lovely evening.”
The nerve of the man telling me to have a lovely evening.