I started obsessively running through scenarios of what would happen if I were expelled. Would I still pursue acting? In my mind, Juilliard’s approval meant I had talent, and without it I should probably give up. The rational part of my brain knew this was stupid — many now-successful actors were expelled from Juilliard and did just fine. Would I reapply to an academic institution? That was going to be tricky, because none of my credits from Juilliard would transfer, and I’d essentially have to start all over again, as though the last two years had never happened. I felt my only option was to white-knuckle it through the second semester and try to become whatever the hell they wanted me to be.
Brian Stack, one of my favourite Late Night with Conan O’Brien performers on working out why he struggled in auditions.
But that’s always the biggest thing: finding a fair way to do it, because it’s such a hurtful thing not to be on a team. Everybody’s feelings get hurt if you don’t make it, but then again not everybody’s ready for it. And there are some who you don’t know. You put them on a team and you might have your doubts about them, then all of the sudden they get a chance to play on a team for a while, they gel and all of the sudden they’re awesome. And who are you to say you know best. And there are some people who you give them a chance and they never grow anymore. Then you have to deal with the hurtful process of what should I do? Should I take them off? Now that I put them on? It’s kind of like ‘here’s you baby. Oh wait a second. It’s not your baby anymore. We’re giving it to someone else.’ That’s still the biggest nut to crack.
Well, we’re getting to put people on teams in a class setting, so you really get a chance to see them under fire, and really know how they’re doing before you make that decision. Because I think there’s such a gap between, someone’s in a class, you toss them on a team, then you don’t get to watch them very much. Then you come back a few months later and get to watch their group, and you’re like ‘oh my God. These guys are terrible.’
Hopefully, by the time they’ve done so many shows, you’ve had the chance to work with them and give them notes and things like that, when you put them on a team you’re going to feel confident that you’ve taught them the things that they should know, and that they can perform them at a reasonable level.
And the people that you don’t put on teams, hopefully the opposite. You know that you have given them a chance and they understand that they know that they’re there to learn, and you’ve given them feedback. It’s not an arbitrary decision. So hopefully that’s something they can accept easier than it just being like ‘alright, let’s have an audition I’ll see you for three minutes and hope that was a representative sample of what they can do.’ So the hope is by doing the team performance workshop at least everyone knows exactly what you’re supposed to be doing on stage, so it isn’t like ‘oh they haven’t taught it.’