SURVIVING SHAW:nby Lucy Brooke (Mrs. Clandon in You Never Can Tell)

I was talking with Michael Murray the Assistant director for “ You Never Can Tell”.  We were talking about audition’s and what a different take you have when you watch them from the director’s viewpoint and not the actor’s viewpoint. What really stands out is what makes an audition good. Mostly it’s confidence, not arrogance, but confidence. It’s that easy, un-put on assurance, that simply says, “ I can do this role”. I think back on the roles I’ve gotten and they have all had that one element.

There have been auditions as well where I had that confidence and didn’t get the role. But even with those auditions I walked away feeling like I had accomplished something. I had gotten to that point where I valued my work, not in a desperate need to prove something or in a need for approval, or some other neurosis based on someone else’s opinion, but on the simple assurance that I could do this in a way that no one else could.

Some time back I was teaching improv in a school up in The Berkshires. It was a two month gig and the head administrator wanted to introduce me to the students. He said, “Why don’t you get up at lunch and do an improv?” I said, “ Is there a stage?”. He said, “ No, just stand there at the table and do something funny.” I thought, ’What are you nuts!? NO!’ I’m not getting up at a luncheon table and just doing an improv.’ Then I thought, why not? What scared me was I wasn’t in the place I felt safe. I wasn’t in a place made for acting. I wasn’t on a stage. On stage I would feel safe. On stage I can do things I’d never do offstage. So I decided to take the stage with me. To tell myself that where ever I am is that safe place where I can do whatever I need, create whatever I need, be who ever I need to be.

Safe doesn’t mean I don’t feel nervous at times. I can be nervous and confident. Safe doesn’t mean I get the job. There are a lot of reasons. I’m too old, young, blonde, not blonde enough, whatever. I cannot change that. What I can do is put myself in a place where I trust myself enough to walk away with a smile on my face. Sometimes I forget to feel safe. I’m so busy rushing to sign in or read the copy or check my make up or something else I think is important that I forget to take a breath, to be where I need to be. I don’t always feel safe. At Schreiber it’s easy. I feel safe. I can walk out on that stage and know that what I do is valuable. The trick is to take that breath, that moment of thought, to remember to take that safe spot with me, that it’s something that I can take with me. It’s as mobile as my arms and legs and mind and heart. That safe spot is me.