Audition Story + Lessons Learned

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by YRAMagicMan, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. I recently auditioned for a position at Kings Island in Ohio. To my surprise, I found myself waiting in the theater where Ed Alonzo does his show there, so that was both encouraging and discouraging at the same time. Encouraging because now I know they hire magicians, discouraging because they already have an act booked and may be hesitant to hire a second similar talent.

    The routine I prepared was an impressive blend of 3 different no-card routines into one very fast paced routine that ended with a seamless, magical transition into a slower paced card effect, in this case I'd chose Dr. Daley's Last Trick for the card effect. The only detail that matters is that the routine I prepared required a table. I opted not to bring my own table. It was a gamble that I was willing to make. I figured it was a safe bet since they mentioned online that musicians should be prepared to sight-read music that I'd have access to a music stand, which would serve as a makeshift table.

    Upon arriving at the venue I found myself on another magicians turf, as was mentioned earlier. I pressed on anyway and got myself warmed up and ready for the show by practicing my routine on a nearby ledge that served as my table and then entertaining a few of the other people who were waiting with some tricks. Eventually, after about 2 hours, I was called to audition. I asked the person taking us to the audition room for a music stand. He said he would find one.

    I get to the room and see a table with three judges in front of me and a video camera 45 degrees to the left of the area where I'm supposed to perform... CRAP! I'm right handed, and a camera 45 degrees to my left is bad, and to make matters worse, it completely eliminates the possibility of using the judges table because that puts the camera 90 degrees to my left, and that gives the people watching the video a tutorial on how the tricks work. That's bad anytime, but when you're at an audition, it's disaster. You can't misdirect an unmanned, single camera, especially a wide angle shot. So now I'm completely dependent on the man finding a music stand if I am to perform the material I prepared.

    As a part of my audition I planned to have those in the room with me gather around me to better simulate the situations I perform in in the streets, and also to control my angles. As I'm watching the first audition, I am hoping they allow people to stay and see the other talents audition. Much to my chagrin, those who completed their audition were sent out of the room. So when I'm called second to last it's me, the three judges, and one other person, hardly enough to generate the "crowd mind" (Where a crowd behaves as a unit) that is talked about in street magic and busking. (I was hoping it would either be a private audition, or there would be 7+ people in the room when I did my act. I've had the second situation before. It's fun!)

    Eventually they call me for my audition and I find that I don't have a music stand. My gamble didn't work, major lesson learned, never gamble going to an audition even if you're betting on a sure thing. I don't mention this to the judges and in hindsight it probably would have been a good idea, but I still would have had to deal with the camera. This wouldn't have been difficult considering my plan of having the people gather around me, but it's still a problem. I press on deciding to improvise with what I have.

    I brought my entire close-up bag, containing cards, sponge balls, the cups and balls, and small juggling equipment, which was to my advantage since now, I could improvise. I decided to go with the sponge balls as an opener and see if they wanted more after that. I requested that those in the room with me join me "on stage" and once they had I began my show. The sponge balls went without a hitch, but my audience was somewhat dead. Not surprising since they've probably seen more than a few magic acts over the years, but it didn't help me create the energy I was looking for. I asked if they want to see one more trick, and one of the judges gave me the go ahead. I then found my deck of cards, which I had stashed between my belt and my waistband so that I could get to it and ditch things in my back pocket without a moments delay. (This setup is concealed under a sport coat.)I find it and explain the odd location of the deck by mentioning that I had prepared another routine, but was decided to improvise due to the lack of a table. I complete my audition with a simple ace production, which I had set up ahead of time, and Dr. Daley's Last Trick. Again, the trick went without a hitch and it got a small reaction, about equal to that of the sponge balls, from my jaded audience. I asked if they wanted more, to which they replied that they had what they needed. I thanked them and followed their instructions for what to do next.

    That's my somewhat nightmare-ish audition story, and it is what it is partly because of my decision not to bring a table. I learned three big lessons. The first lesson I learned, as I mentioned, is not to gamble on anything that you could otherwise control when you're auditioning or going to perform anywhere. I gambled and lost, and it may cost me a job. Variety talent is always the among last things they hire, so their budget my cost me a job more than my gamble on my audition.

    The second lesson is to know your material backwards, forwards, and upside-down. The only reason I wasn't dead in the water is because I had an alternative and I knew my material to the point where I probably have practiced it in my sleep without realizing that I was miming the actions of a magic trick.

    The final lesson I learned is how to deal with bad camera angles. Thankfully, my plan would have allowed me to cover the bad camera angle by changing the direction I was facing when I performed, had I performed what I prepared. Since I was unable to perform the rollicking routine I had planned, the bad camera angle didn't matter as much. Plus I was able to select material that would work better in that situation.

    All in all, I think my audition went well, considering my blunder with the table, the audience not being the size I wanted, and also the lack of energy from my audience. I performed my routines to the best of my ability and did my best to be enthusiastic. Now it's up to them and their financial bottom line whether or not I get a job.

    Oh. Final final lesson, if you're auditioning for something, take enough material that you can ditch your plan and wing it if necessary. Cameras and heckling judges are two things that you can't control that can make auditions very difficult. I know, I've dealt with both of those, but not at the same time. Thankfully, the heckling judge didn't cost me a job, and the camera in that audition was manned, and on my right side, making that part of life easy.

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