THE SELF DOUBT DEMON
Here we go! Five, six, seven, eight… Left, right, arms behind, left foot, snap... Again! Left, right, arms behind, left foot, snap.’
The opening sequence of the musical A Chorus Line encapsulates the cutthroat and competitive nature of auditioning. Based on verbatim interviews with performers of the 1970s discussing their attempts to make it on Broadway, the production shows a crowd of dancers – all tits, teeth and very tight-tights – get whittled down to just eight people by a director come drill sergeant, Zach. If someone can’t do a perfect 720-degree spin on one leg and look like they’re having a jolly nice time whilst doing it, he promptly asks them to leave.
Although acting auditions tend to involve a less counting, less shouting and, fortunately, less lycra, the potent binaries of this show are relevant to every professional working in theatre; ambition; rejection; passion; doubt; having guts and being completely petrified; it’s all there between the step ball-changes.
I was particularly struck by the battle between self-promotion and self-doubt, seeing parallels between these anxious lives danced on the stage before me, and the talented, yet worried, actors I meet on a daily basis. Whether in a rehearsal room or at Mono Box events actors shrink in front of me when recounting an audition tale. They say, “Everyone else was so much better than me,” or profess, “I knew I wouldn’t get a recall” a