Dealing with rejection is a common theme in my blog because dealing with rejection is a common occurrence as an actor. As much as we joke about our useless theatre degrees, there are some lessons that double as amazing life lessons. One valuable lesson was brilliantly demonstrated in Bill Kincaid’s Audition class. For those of you unlucky enough not to know Bill Kincaid, he is the beloved Head of Acting at Western Illinois University.
It’s spring of 2009. The students are seating in their usual semi-circle. Bill enters with a small bag in his hand and approaches the first student.
“Would you like some of my nuts?” Bill asks. “Uh, Sure Bill.”The first person giggles, and accepts a few peanuts from the bag. Onto the second student. “Here you go, would you like some of my nuts?” Bill asks again. The second student accepts and so on. Everyone is smiling and looking around to see if anyone else is in on the joke?
Finally Bill approaches a student and offers the nuts as before, but the student says. “No thanks Bill.” Bill pauses, he stares at the student in apparent horror and disbelief.
“What do you mean you don’t want my nuts?” he asks.
“I just don’t want nuts right now.” The student answers.
“Why not? These nuts are really good.” Bill presses on.
“I’m sure they are. I just don’t feel like nuts.” The student insists.
“I don’t understand why you don’t want my nuts.” Bill says with heightening panic. “I worked really hard to bring you all these nuts today. My teachers all said that these were really great nuts. I won an award for these nuts! Please can’t you just take some nuts!?” He begs. By now the students are exchanging knowing smiles, as they are starting to catch on to Bills point.
The point Bill is trying to make in his cheeky way, is not everyone is going to be interested in what you have to offer, and you need to be OK with that. You can show up to an audition looking great, feeling prepared. You can walk in and be your affable, employable self. You can even nail the audition, but you don’t book the job.
Sometimes they just didn’t want your nuts.
For whatever reason, (too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, brown hair, blonde hair, no MFA, not enough experience, too much experience) Not everyone is going to want what you are offering. If you start taking it personally it will drive you nuts. (pun intended)
Special thanks to Bill Kincaid for letting me steal from his lesson plan, and for being a phenomenal teacher and human being.