Don't take the rejection letter personally. Image: www.thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com.au fullscreen

Interview: What to do if you didn’t get in – ArtsHub

Missing out on an offer to study in 2015 may feel like the end of the world. It’s not.

by Troy Nankervis

Published 15 December 2014 – Arts Hub

A great article comparing the experience of unsuccessful applicant Manda Flanary with advice from Head of Acting at NIDA Jeff Janisheski and myself.

Taking control of what happens next

Walton said that you don’t need a degree or an institution to be an artist, and the first way to take charge of what happens next in lieu of a rejection is to put energy into training and professional development. ‘Some of the greatest artists in history don’t have a degree,’ he said.

‘Everyone who auditions is already an artist, and because of the way our auditions are, they’ve already created a new performance work and a new interpretation of a monologue. What happens next is more important than they realise.

Continues…

Full article: http://www.artshub.com.au/news-article/features/all-arts/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-get-in-246723


 

Last week was tough for aspiring Melbourne actor Manda Flannery as she waited for offers to study at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2015. The calls came through but they were not what she had hoped:  she missed out on spots at both schools.

‘I won’t lie, I’ve taken it pretty hard,’ she said. ‘Two big blows like that in 24 hours is pretty tough. As I learn of the people I know getting calls, you make yourself worse and worse with “what do they have?” And as much as you know you should try to remove yourself from others, it’s not easy.’

Like Flannery, many over the coming weeks will deal with the news they haven’t made the cut. But the knock back may be as much part of career preparation as the course could have been. Head of Acting at National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) Jeff Janisheski points out that rejection is inherent to an arts career. ‘For people getting a phone call saying they’ve not been accepted, it’s actually a part of the journey, it’s a part of being an artist,’ he said.

‘It’s hearing that word “no” or “not yet”, and learning how to have perspective on that, how to put a positive spin on that, and how to cope with that and not take it personally.

‘You might be fortunate to be accepted into a school, and if you get accepted into a school you might get an agent, get a job, but for the majority of people, even if you have a job, it’s rejection, rejection, rejection.’

Absorbing all feedback

It takes some people four, five or even seven times to be offered a place to one of the highly competitive and prestigious training programs. While Janisheski said the selection process creates huge disappointment, it’s also a process which tries to be as compassionate and as valuable as possible. ‘If you didn’t get in, you would have received feedback during the actual audition process itself about the positive and critical aspects of your acting,’ he said.

‘So when you get that phone call saying you didn’t get in, you didn’t get accepted, you would have already known why.’

VCA Associate Head of Theatre and Undergraduate Coordinator Robert Walton said applicants to the VCA audition in front of two members of staff in groups of 15 to 20, participate in workshops with existing students, and watch each other’s Shakespeare monologues and devised works.

Following a general group discussion, panelists deliberate with only around one to two – or sometimes none – from each group progressing into the next round. Like Janisheski, Walton said auditions aim to be valuable regardless of the outcome. ‘We want the experience in itself to be worthwhile, so it is a bit like a workshop and a chance to see other people’s work,’ he said.

‘We see everyone who applied because it’s a talent based entry system. People come from all walks of life, and we try to make it a place where they can perform at the best standard, in the most relaxed way. We remind them they probably got into theatre and acting because they love to play and love doing it. But sometimes, auditions make you forget that completely and it feels like the opposite.’

Taking control of what happens next

Walton said that you don’t need a degree or an institution to be an artist, and the first way to take charge of what happens next in lieu of a rejection is to put energy into training and professional development. ‘Some of the greatest artists in history don’t have a degree,’ he said.

‘Everyone who auditions is already an artist, and because of the way our auditions are, they’ve already created a new performance work and a new interpretation of a monologue. What happens next is more important than they realise.

‘All artists have to find ways to train themselves by committing to their own practice, how they’re going to work and in what environment. One of the things we say is that if they want to audition again they should train, see lots of shows, come to our open days, they should do research into the different schools and what they offer, and really make an informed choice about why they want to go to each school and be really clear about that when they go to audition.’

Walton reminds applicants to also participate in shows, be entrepreneurial, and consider forming a micro community with like minded individuals, which sometimes can emerge from the audition process itself. ‘They might make a connection with somebody there, so maybe they could work together over the year, just to practice with each other and make more things happen,’ he said.

Janisheski said applicants could explore training options through the short course programs facilitated by the institutions where students want to study.  ‘NIDA offers a huge amount of NIDA Open short courses taught by phenomenal teachers, many of who are alumni of the program,’ he said.

‘I’d also advise students to do a lot of other thing – live life, have an experience, work – if they’re out of high school or university just to really gain life experience, because that will really enrich your own acting, and your technique, and your background, and make you much more knowledgeable and desirable when you audition again for NIDA or for another school.’

Exploring other options

Walton said a rejection call or letter could be a pathway to other areas of the creative arts. ‘It might the gateway to other careers in the performing arts,’ he said.

‘If they love the environment of studios, rehearsal spaces or backstage, or being on set, they might consider production courses which produce highly skilled, in demand graduates.

‘Production management, set design, stage technology, lights, set and costume, arts management, film and television, and writing for film, television or theatre – lots of young people have only ever experienced acting, but there’s a huge amount of careers that are in the environment they love to be in, but have a different skill set and weigh in.’

Keeping things in perspective

Flannery, who has since accepted a third offer to study at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, has acknowledged her efforts despite the disappointment. ‘If you worked your butt off like me, practicing every day, early morning warm ups to make sure your voice would work for your audition, missing social engagements, it can be really tough, especially when you see people coast their way in – and it does happen – but it’s important to acknowledge that work and be proud,’ she said.

Flannery said that people who didn’t receive an offer to their first or second preference should take a break, but don’t drop the ball for too long. ‘Go back to dance class, work on new songs with your teacher, and plan your new year,’ she said.

‘Make it more interesting than a structured course, doing the same classes with the same teachers week after week. Have a better time than you might have in a course, and if you want, try again next year. Or not.

‘It’s just a piece of paper, and three years at some place with a fancy acronym doesn’t make you ready to play Fantine. It’s just one way to begin. Now all I have to do is take my own advice!’

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis

Don't take the rejection letter personally. Image: www.thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com.au

Don’t take the rejection letter personally. Image: www.thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com.au

Don’t take the rejection letter personally. Image: www.thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com.au

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