Rejection = A Fact of Life. Rejection in the Theatre = The Daily Reality.
Assuming a high level of talent and skill, the way a theatre professional handles rejection can determine the rate of success or failure in his or her career.
It took me too long to learn that I had a choice as to whether or not I responded personally to rejection. As a young actress in New York in the early 70’s, my fear of being rejected could be paralyzing; on occasion I would actually not show up for an audition. Knowing I didn’t want to sabotage my lifelong dream, and not wanting to piss of my agent any more than necessary, I gritted my teeth and “followed my fear” as if I was in an improv class.
“What do I gain from being terrified?” I asked myself. It seemed that certain auditions didn’t scare me a bit and I wondered why they were different. After one such (rare) occurrence it struck me that I just didn’t care: the theatre was too far away, I couldn’t stand the director, and I got the offer. In contrast, when I coveted the role or adored the play or longed to work in a particular theatre, my fear of rejection kicked right in. I was afraid I might actually get the job. Bingo! Fear of success.
When I embraced my fear (one of the Six Principles of Theatrical Intelligence) I made friends with it as if we were partners venturing into unknown territory. More offers came my way, and I actually began to enjoy auditioning.
The fact is that there is no foolproof way to win a role in the theatre, or a production if you’re a playwright or a gig if you’re a director. If my theatrical cohorts and I had known about my friend Mary Cantando’s “Five Approaches to Handling Rejection” back then it would’ve helped! Of course she hadn’t written them yet – she was in North Carolina, accumulating the expertise to become the growth expert for women entrepreneurs she is today.
Here are Mary’s gems of wisdom:
Where Mary has written “sales call” or “sales meeting”, substitute the word(s) of your choice: interview, play submittal, backers’ audition, pitch, preview… the list goes on.
Just as Rejection = Reality, No Sales = No Career.
Thanks, Mary. Many of us could’ve used your handy tips way back when. Which is exactly why I’m passing them along today.