MFA Auditions 2016: Part 1: Yale Drama

You guys. Time for a little bragging right here. I take a lot of notes. I love having record of how auditions went, what happened in classes, what a teacher did to get someone to do a thing, etc. Lo and behold, I have found my notes from my quite successful 2016 auditions. It was this very audition that would lay the groundwork for my eventual acceptance to Columbia.

Here we go, beginning with the first audition of the season, Yale School of Drama.

This was my second time auditioning for Yale. Click here to see my post about the 2015 audition (post coming soon)! I spent the night before in a hotel in New Haven so I could get plenty of rest and not worry about train delays, traffic, etc.

My audition slot was at 10am, giving me ample time for warming up, eating, getting dressed, etc. after waking up around 7am. I was nervous, yeah. I ran my monologues before leaving the hotel because I knew I should never do them for the first time on a day in the audition room.

I parked on the street at Yale and arrived at the rehearsal studios. Entering the lobby, I was greeted by a current student stage manager or dramaturg, I don’t remember. I took a chair in the lobby and briefly chatted with a woman with a red McGill University water bottle. A Canadian! How fun. She came all the way from Toronto.

Then, I put my earphones in and began running my pieces in my head while listening to music. It’s a good test to make sure I know my piece inside and out and don’t get distracted by any outside forces.

Around 10:10am, they called everyone into one of the big rehearsal studios. There, we were greeted by Master Acting Teacher Ron Van Lieu and Acting Chair Walton Wilson. Ron gave a spiel about how to audition would work and cracked a couple of jokes. The goal was to put us at ease, it seemed.

We were then split into two groups at random. One group would see Ron and the other would see Walton. I’d seen Walton last year and was put in the Ron group this year. Since they do alphabetical order, I would go last.

We lined ourselves up in the hallway along the wall outside of that very rehearsal room we’d just exited. I kept to myself, and didn’t pay much attention to any of the other women in my group as they were chatting. I tried to keep my blinders on, but I remember seeing girl in all black Lycra and barefoot in line in front of me and thinking it was a very “drama school” look.

I kept my coat on because it was cold and listened to music. I couldn’t seem to find the right song or style to groove to. Nothing was moving me. I eventually accepted that may not find the right fit and should settle in with something. This was a pretty valuable mentality because if I’d kept searching, that search would have taken my attention away from the task at hand – which was to be present. I allowed myself to enjoy what happened upon my ears. Note to self, it’s always good to have a playlist at the ready.

My name was called and I took off my coat and entered the giant rehearsal studio. High ceilings, grey marley floor. I took my place behind the line of tape on the floor (they have this so you don’t get too close to the faculty – they need to see your whole being and don’t want you coming up and crowding them).

I had a tiny, minuscule bit of awkwardness when I did my slate. I hadn’t practiced slating and got in my head about name, pieces, authors, birthdate, driver’s license number, great grandmother’s maiden name, etc.

First, I did what my coach and I called the A-Team: Luciana from Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare and a grounded, simple contemporary piece that I love and am not going to tell you about. I didn’t feel totally connected to the Shakespeare, but felt good about my contemporary. In the moment, I struggled to get out of my head with both pieces. Whether that was noticeable or not, who knows.

Ron then asked me what else I had.

Ok. That’s promising. Good thing I also had a B-Team! But shit. I hadn’t really rehearsed my other two pieces as much as I should’ve. I think I’d run them the night before in the hotel? And in my head while listening to music earlier. Ok well, here goes!

Joan la Pucelle from Henry VI Part 1. I remember making some big grand circle and thinking wow I was kind of free and went with it. Maybe it was a good thing I hadn’t touched this piece in a bit. I let it move me.

Then he asked for another.

Well, Mister, you’re in luck because I just so happen to have another!

A contemporary that’s a bit quirky, weird, awkward. Again, I won’t tell you what it was because it’s MINE.

I said the name of the play but blanked on the author. Oh my god that’s a cardinal sin. I could see the name in my head, it was on the tip of my tongue but I don’t think I’d ever said it out loud. Luckily, Ron said he was familiar with the play and didn’t seem too peeved about it. So I did that piece and left.

Since I was the last to go in my group, I didn’t have to wait long for the callback list. I walked back into the lobby where everyone else was waiting, including some folks who had already shown up for the next hour’s auditions.

Within maybe 5-7 minutes or so, a piece of yellow paper was posted on the wall. An announcement by one of the current students was made thanking us all and telling us that if our name was not on the list then we could leave.

There were two names on the list.

The first was Brigitte Thieme-Burdette. (That's MY name!)

You know what, though? It wasn’t like an, "omg holy shit" kind of moment for me. It felt right. I was like, "ok yeah". I didn’t have any conscious expectations of getting a callback or not, I just went with it. Actually, maybe I was in shock…

The second name was a tall blonde drink of water of a woman who had been seen by Walton. Yep. Ron called back one person. Walton called back one person.

So how did the callback go? Did I remember the author’s name? Would this ultimately be a competition between blonde and brunette?!?

Find out in the next post! :)

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