This past Monday, I embarked on my first city audition adventure of the semester. On this particular day, I sat on the train facing the back of the car and watched the cloudy, gray Long Island sky pass me in backwards motion as I wrote and rewrote the words of the two monologues I prepared for the day in a notebook I’ve kept since freshman year of high school. I flipped through the pages, glancing at the black ink that seemed to engulf almost three quarters of the book. The contents included angsty poetry, the guitar chords to “Wonderwall”, and an overwhelming amount of monologues. I remembered how fickle I used to be about what monologue I wanted to bring into a particular audition, cluttering the margins with ideas about character and motivation and why I should choose this monologue over the three I just nixed. I would get so lost in this sea of options that I would forget about what was most important- presentation.
I tried to remember that the people behind the table aren’t looking at the paperwork you did in preparation for this day, they’re looking at you… and your resume.
So, I turn my attention to that piece of paper which is a neatly printed and organized list of my favorite roles, where I’ve trained, and what I know at this point in my life as a performer. Yet when I look at this piece of paper, I feel like I know nothing, like there’s no way this could be my resume. I uneasily look back at the notebook covered in pen markings and scribbles and think “that’s who I am”, “that’s what I know”. When you’re an actor, you can get lost in thinking that even though you put in all this work, all you amount to in the audition room is your resume as the opening number of “A Chorus Line” plays in the background of your mind.
That thought has been reverberating in my head for several days now with no reprieve. And the more I thought about it, the worse it got. So, I called my boyfriend and asked him what he thought. He said, “Well, of course, you are your resume but that’s not an entirely bad thing. It’s just the name of the game,”. This was something I had considered previously but I wasn’t entirely sure if I agreed with his point of view.
We’re constantly taught that when you audition, you are going into the room to show people the best version of yourself and your resume is just a part of that presentation. It is not meant to diminish the work you do. If anything, your resume is a showcase of the work you do. It’s how the people behind the table know that you have had the opportunity to put your skills to use.
I’ll concede though that a resume doesn’t account for half as much as you’ve done to get to where you are at this point in your life. I cannot begin to tell you how much I wish I could fit more of my experiences onto my resume but there is only so much you can fit on one page. Sometimes I find myself looking at that piece of paper wishing I could tell the people behind the table that there is so much more to me than what is on this piece of paper, that this is not everything I am capable of. I almost feel jealous whenever I see my friends with resumes that span two or even three pages and I think, “why can’t theatre artists have that?” We do so much that it feels odd we have to limit ourselves to one page. In fact, it almost feels like it diminishes what we’ve accomplished.
But then part of me thinks that we do so much that if we could put all of our credits on our resumes, they would go on forever. That doesn’t make the ones we leave off any less important than the ones we choose to put on our one page. It just means we have to pick and choose what parts of our career we want to show the world.
Just as you don’t get to share everything about a character with the audience, you don’t get to share everything about yourself with the people you audition for. And that isn’t always a bad thing. You can still showcase the work you are proud of but it gives you the agency to decide for yourself what you want the auditioners to know about you when you walk in the room.
In a field where the work you do is fleeting, you can forget that your resume is not only a job application but a stamp that says you showed up and you did the work you’ve been training for. No, it does not include everything you’ve ever done or everything you can do but I don’t think it makes those parts any less important. However, I do not think that the people behind the table need to know everything you have accomplished to know that you can give a good audition.
Now, looking between my notebook and my resume, I think that maybe it isn’t such a bad thing that this is what the people behind the table get to see (accompanied by my headshot where I still have brown hair). Do I wish I had the opportunity to show them more? Of course. But considering I have only have about three minutes to make an impression on the people behind the table, I’m glad I can spend that time making choices as opposed to showing them how I got there.