Every time I prepare myself for an audition, I pump myself up, Eminem style, singing to myself, “You’ve only got one shot …” I laugh at my intensity afterward, but it’s nerve-wracking to expose my skills, ambitions, and self on stage, armed only with a monolog and sometimes even less. However, most directors agree that confidence is the key to landing a role.

“Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Go big. Be confident!” advises Darrell Vinson. Vinson teaches theater and is the assistant band director at Merkel High. Abilenians have seen his work most recently on the Abilene Community Theater stage as Director/Actor of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)”. Vinson, being a veteran of auditions, states he overlooks mistakes like mispronunciations if an actor shows they have an emotional range.

Not heeding Vinson’s advice, I once was so nervous at an audition that I stopped breathing between lines. I had to stop reading from the selected piece and gulp breaths because my larynx would no longer produce sound without air; that and I’d be even more embarrassed if I passed out. No one scolded or laughed at me. They have all been there. It doesn’t matter how many plays you’ve been cast in, auditions are always a time of uncertainty, but be brave and show your moxie.  

Lonnie Hicks, an actor and director in the area for nearly twenty years, affirms that dynamic range and how comfortable the auditioner appears to be on stage are deciding factors for him when casting. Firstly, he makes sure that you are a good fit for the part. For example, if you are playing a family member, you should have a similar look to your castmates. However, artistic interpretation is often a director’s friend, as genderbending in roles is not only not uncommon but historical. Abilene Repertory Theater, now disbanded, produced Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” and local theater legend Peggy Cummings was cast as the lead, thus turning “King Lear” into simply, “Lear.”

Abilene has a rich performing arts scene with opportunities for all of its willing citizens to get involved with. We may not be as synonymous with theater as Broadway or film as Los Angeles, but it is not for lack of passion or talent. If you’ve ever been felt the lure of the spotlight, audition. Theaters encourage new talent to give it their best because we all started somewhere. As for this aspiring thespian, “I’m not throwing away my shot!”

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