Dealing with the Post-Closing Blues

Hey friend,

I’m going to level with you. I’ve been having a weird week.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping, my focus has been scattered, and I’ve been interpreting interpersonal interactions less than generously.

(What does that text mean?! DOES SHE HATE ME NOW?!?!)

…You get it.

Nooooooot my best self.

And until this morning I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Then it hit me…

The Post-Closing Blues. 

I closed “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” on Friday and like clockwork come Saturday morning I had that creeping “you’re-never-going-to-work-again” anxiety.

So what do we do to combat the post-closing blues?

Here’s my checklist:

STEP 1. Do the things that make ANY human feel better.

I know these may seem painfully obvious, but when we’re spinning out sometimes we needed to be reminded about the very basic things that make all human beings feel marginally better. This is my step-one when I feel the creeping tide of the post-closing blues:

  • Drink some water
  • Get some sleep (If you struggle with sleep this may mean turning off all screens at 9pm)
  • Call a friend
  • Go for a walk
  • Get some sunshine
  • Exercise (if that makes you feel good)
  • Meditate for 10min

STEP 2. Do things to sooth the actor in you.

You are going to work again. Really, you are. But if you’re still having anxiety after all the activities above sometimes a little project can help. These can include:

  • Reading a play
  • Taking a dance class
  • Scheduling a voice lesson
  • Seeing a live performance
  • Participating in a reading
  • Going to some auditions
  • Redoing your website

*NOTE: Please don’t do ALL of these activities. Launching into 18 different projects directly after closing a show is not generally suuuper helpful for easing anxiety.  Not that I’ve tried it or anything…

STEP 3. Give it time.

I know. I hate me for writing that too. The last thing I feel like doing right now is sitting with my anxiety.  But at the end of the day, it’s a feeling I know I’m going to have to get comfy with if I want to continue to be an actor.

There WILL be more contracts. 

But that also mean there will be more closings. 

If you allow yourself to wrap your self-esteem around whether-or-not you’re currently in a show, burnout will come for you FAST.

And I want us all to have long lovely careers that we are able to ACTUALLY ENJOY because we aren’t too anxious to take notice.

That’s why I chose to share this with you today.

I’m with you 100%.

Now go drink some water.

Much love,

Sara

P.S. These are just my own strategies for dealing with minor anxiety.  If you are dealing with depression or debilitating anxiety please know that my heart goes out to you and I am aware that “Go for a walk” is not a realistic solution. ❤

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Let’s talk about audition fatigue…

I gotta be honest with you, I am TIRED.

Audition Season seems to get longer every year and I’m seeing burnout in every holding room I walk into these days.

I’m seeing dancers reach into their bags at ECCs and pull out one character shoe and one tap shoe.

It’s not a good look. (Or sound.)

But here’s the thing…

Have you ever decided to take a little brain break in May only to wake up in September realizing you’ve achieved none of your artistic goals? 

It’s like deciding you’re going to take a midday nap and sleeping through the night and into the the next day…For four months straight.

Instead of sleeping away your summer, follow these basic guidelines to make sure you’re resting and not slacking.

1. Set a Time Limit

Don’t want to oversleep? Set an alarm!

I know it seems simple, but as actor/entrepreneurs we don’t always have the luxury of a set schedule.

If you worked a basic 9-5 job, you might know that your times to rest are:

  • after 5 on weekdays
  • weekends
  • 15 vacation days

As a freelancer, your potential times to rest are:

  • whenever

And of course, the flip-side of this is you can also work whenever.  This is one of the reasons we get so burnt out!

So, if you’ve decided you need some time to recharge, take it!

But set a time frame.

Cash in those imaginary vacation days and say, “I’m taking off the week of May 6th.”

Hold that time sacred and DO NO WORK.  Then clock back in May 13th, and get back to it.

Or, if you can’t realistically take a week off, schedule restorative time each week and say, “I’m clocking out at 5pm Monday-Friday.”

Hold that time sacred and DO NO WORK.  But remember, that means no watching Orange is the New Black before 5pm.

Which brings me to our next guideline…

2. Identify what’s “restorative” and what’s “procrastination”

So, now that you’ve established the time that you’re going to hold sacred for rest, let’s figure out what you’re going to actually DO with that time.

This means differentiating between activities that are restorative and procrastination activities that are depleting.

Restorative activities leave you feeling satisfied and often energized.  A short list of activities that are restorative for me are:

  • Board game nights with friends
  • Walking outside
  • Yoga/Lyra/Rock Climbing/weird and novel workout classes
  • Playing guitar
  • Watching Netflix

Some activities that leave me feeling super depleted are:

  • Scrolling through Facebook
  • Scrolling through Instagram
  • Scrolling in general
  • Watching Netflix

Notice how Netflix is on their twice?  That’s because depending on HOW I consume Netflix it can be either restorative or depleting.

Which brings me to my final tip…

3. Relax as mindfully as you work

Know that zone you get into when you’re doing your best acting work? That zone where you’re all in, completely and totally invested but not muscling anything.

THAT’S the zone you gotta be in to relax.

There’s a major difference between binge watching Netflix while updating your Instagram, and sitting down with a friend for a movie night with your phones in the next room.

Commit to your restorative time.  A shorter period of mindful rest will leave you ready to spring back into those career goals much much sooner.

So, what do you say?

Ready for that power nap?

Set that alarm and I’ll see you next week!

Best,

Sara

P.S.  That coupon code for 10% off all rep services is still good through next week! (COUPON CODE: SPRINGCLEANING) You can schedule up to 12 weeks out, so go ahead and pick a time after you’ve clocked back in 😉


Book Now!

Stop hitting “snooze”.

Did you hit the snooze button this morning?

Be honest.  It’s okay–I’m not judging you.

I know you have big productivity dreams that start with you leaping out of bed in the morning, putting on a pot of coffee, and living the life Lin-Manuel would want you to lead.

But…it’s so cozy in your bed.  What’s five minutes in the grand scheme of things?

Well, the problem is:

You’re only 5 minutes into your day, and you’ve already broken a promise to yourself.

Yikes.

Not a great way to start your day.

But it’s also incredibly hard to force yourself to keep this promise when the stakes feel so low and your comfort level is so high.

Now, if your smoke detector went off instead of your alarm, you can bet your ass you’d be out of bed right at 7:30!

So, the solution?

Instruct your roommate to set the drapes on fire each morning at 7:29.

Problem solved!

Or, if you have a more modest drapery budget:

Use a tweet scheduler like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule a super embarrassing tweet at 7:35 each morning. 

You’ll have a 5 min window to disable the Twitter fire.

Suddenly that snooze button isn’t looking so appealing…

For the life of me, I can’t remember where I first came across this strategy.  It may have been a Freakonomics podcast, it may have been a TEDtalk, but I heard it somewhere and thought it was absolutely BRILLIANT.

Think about it.

What could you achieve in a week, if you knew there were serious consequences for  not achieving it?

  • If you got an appointment for Once next Monday, you would practice your instrument every day.
  • If you got a dance callback for 42nd Street next Tuesday, you sure as hell wouldn’t skip that Thursday night tap class.
  • If you got a final callback for Eliza Doolittle next Wednesday, I guarantee you would be listening to your dialect MP3s every time you stepped on the train.

Now, imagine how prepared you would be if you were doing those activities EVERY week.

Crazy, right?

So, how can we manufacture that same urgency?

You’re a smart actor—go ahead and raise those stakes!

Here’s a example from my own life:

One of my goals that CONSTANTLY gets put on the back-burner is to have more samples of my work online.

It’s very easy for more “urgent” concerns to take precedent over this goal–that is, until I’m asked to submit for a project that I don’t have any appropriate footage for…

So what did I do this weekend?

I reached out to a videographer and booked them for 3 hours in April.  I put a date on my calendar and paid a deposit out of my bank account.

I now have a deadline and financial skin in the game.

Then I wrote you this email. So now I have public accountability.  (Thanks for that!)

I have about 3 weeks to get 4 songs camera-ready…

As of this writing, I am more than a little nervous and EXTREMELY motivated.

I think that’s a good thing.

In the same way it’s cozy and comfortable to stay in bed when the alarm goes off, it’s cozy and comfortable to keep your dreams small.  

It’s cozy and comfortable to practice guitar once a week in your room, knowing that no one’s going to listen until you are 100% ready.

That is—it’s cozy and comfortable until you have to pass up an audition because you aren’t ready.

Or, to put it more eloquently, in the words of Anaïs Nin,

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I’ll leave you with that.

I’d say more, but I’ve got a date with my audition book that I’m not wiling to break.

My challenge for you this week is find a way to raise the stakes on your own goals.  Have a strategy you love? Please post about it on this thread on the Audition Rep Matchmaker Facebook page!

Happy blossoming!

Best,

Sara

P.S.  I know some of you have been putting off revamping your audition book.  But if you’ve been skipping auditions because your material isn’t up to snuff it is time to put some skin in the game.  Book your coaching today.  I promise, one it’s on your calendar you will FEEL those stakes 😉 

 

On Daring to Take up Space

CW: Eating Disorders

Alright folks, here it is.  In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I’d like to share my story about taking up space.

Before we get started, some things to know…

  1. Things that will not be in this story: numbers, pictures, or neat and tidy bows. The first two elements are unhelpful and the last is just not possible.
  2. Things that will be in this story: snark, empathy, and my very best attempts at honesty.

Sound groovy?

Awesome.

Here we go…

I struggled with disordered eating from around age 16 to age 22.

This isn’t meant to be a grand reveal. My guess is many of you super sleuth-y sleuthers were able to guess that’s where this blog was going from the content warning at the top. Y’all get five gold stars.

It isn’t a secret–and it’s not something I’m ashamed of. In fact, I think it’s important that people speak out about mental health struggles they’ve had in order to lessen the stigmas surrounding them. That said, it’s something I’ve never written about publicly because, frankly, it’s pretty boring to me.

Much as I wish I could write a story with all the drama of a Degrassi very special episode, the years I spent not eating were incredibly boring.

Many elements of the story are incredibly cliched and familiar: straight-A student goes to school for musical theatre and restricts eating to conform to industry standards.

If you’ve ever watched a TV series set in a high school, you know where this goes.

She wastes away, there’s a dramatic intervention with lots of crying and shouting, she wakes up in a hospital bed, someone holds her hand, she swears she’s going to fight this, we roll credits, there’s a quick PSA with the actor after the episode with a hot-line your can call, and she’s recovered by the next episode.

Tidy, right? Nice dramatic structure.  Pretty engaging.

Not how it happened for me.

For me is was more like:

Girl stops eating.  Girl loses some weight, but not enough to look concerning. People close to Girl keep telling her how good she looks. Girl loses her period and is cold all the time.  Girl decides to talk to male endocrinologist, who tells Girl he doubts her lack of periods and vitamin deficiency have anything to do with her diet because she “looks fine to me.” (The doctor does not ask Girl what her diet consists of.)  Girl continues not really eating for another couple years.  Girl never cries or shouts because she doesn’t really feel emotions–not eating takes the edge off that kind of thing. Girl wonders why she’s not auditioning very well despite looking the most “castable” she’s ever looked. Girl wonders if it has anything to do with the fact that she doesn’t “feel emotions” which is apparently something directors are looking for.  Girl has a bad breakup and feels things for the first time in a while. Girl goes to therapy and has it explained to her that it’s possible to have an eating disorder without being emaciated.  Girl spends a couple years in outpatient treatment while continuing to do things like pay taxes, and go to auditions, and do laundry. Girl reminds herself to stop referring to herself as a “girl” since attempting to achieve a pre-pubescent physique is kiiiiiinda part of the problem.

To ease the new-found anxiety that comes with having feelings again, Woman decided to read a new play or listen to a next musical every day for a year.  Woman continues to work on food and exercise issues.  Woman starts a business. Woman makes progress and backslides. Woman books some roles and does not book some roles. Woman makes progress and backslides. Woman is back to a healthy weight for her body type. Woman doesn’t get comments about her body anymore which she both loves and hates. Woman makes progress and backslides.  Woman starts to feel more comfortable taking up space both literally and metaphorically and hesitantly begins to accept she’s more “castable” at this size if it means she’s not completely numbed out to the world.  Sometimes the Woman doesn’t believe this, but most the time she does.

Roll credits, I guess?

You still reading?

BLESS YOU.

Like I said, not the cleanest narrative…

So why share it at all?

(Don’t worry, I’m also asking myself that question right now.)

Here’ s what I think I’ve come up with…

I put off getting treatment for a really long time because I didn’t think I was sick enough to merit getting help.

I was worried that, unless I had a Lifetime Original Movie moment, I was being over-dramatic.  I was worried I would be dismissed as not underweight enough.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this.

My story kind of bores me.  And it probably will bore many actors reading this because it is SO. FREAKING. COMMON.

I’d say at least half the actors I meet have a disordered relationship with food.  I won’t say they have eating disorders because (SPOILER ALERT) I am not a doctor, but our cultural baseline for how we deal with food and bodies is deeply, deeply skewed.

You hear it in the many discussions of diets and cleanses in audition holding rooms. You see it in the wording of casting breakdowns. You feel it in your gut when you see an advertisement for a “Broadway Body” class.

So that’s why I’m choosing to share my story this year– as a tiny homing beacon to all the folks out there trying to be brave and take up space in a world that keeps telling them to shrink.

To those of you trying to swim against that current, making progress and backsliding time and time again: I see you. I love you. I support you. Keep swimming.

We’re getting mixed signals.  You can’t expect to spend 23.5 hours a day attempting to make yourself smaller, and then walk into an audition room and be brave, vulnerable, and expansive.

Believe me–I’ve tried.

So, if you can only be one or the other, which one are you going to pick?

My heart goes out to any of you grappling with these contradictions right now.

And if at any point my tone came off as glib or dismissive during this article, know that that’s about ME and not you.  I am bored by my own story, but that’s because it’s my own story. If you are going through something similar right now, I urge you to reach out to a professional, whether or not you feel your struggle is dramatic enough to be featured on Degrassi. If it is causing you suffering, seek help.

If you had strep throat, you would go get antibiotics–you wouldn’t compare yourself to the meningitis patients and go, “Well, it’s not THAT bad…”

You get my point.

Anyway, I promised there would be no tidy bows with this article, so I’ll just go the after school special route and leave you this link to the NationalEatingDisorders.org help page.

As always, wishing you an expansive audition season!

Much love,

Sara

FREE Book Building Class!

Hey all!

Wanted to let you know that I’ll be teaching a FREE class on how to build the kind of audition book that will book you jobs on February 18th.

Last time I taught this class for Backstage University it was $45 a pop, but I’m partnering with SaveMyAudition.com to bring it to you for free.

So without any further ado, here’s them dets:

BUILD MY AUDITION (BOOK) | SARA GLANCY, AUDITION REP MATCHMAKER

AUDITION BOOK-BUILDING 101
FEBRUARY 18TH, 2018 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
LOCATION: MIDTOWN MANHATTAN REHEARSAL STUDIO
FREE

During this 90-min workshop, Sara Glancy (AKA the Audition Rep Matchmaker) will teach you how to build the kind of audition book that will serve you in every audition scenario.

No more scrambling to learn a new song for every open call. Just one full-service audition book that books you jobs.

Learn what song categories you specifically need in your book, where you can find those songs (quickly and cheaply), and how to physically prepare those cuts so you feel comfortable placing your book in front of any pianist.

Please bring your audition book and any burning questions you may have.

About SARA:

Untitled design (24) (1)Sara Glancy, owner of Audition Rep Matchmaker, is a working actor and professional audition rep coach. She helps pair actors with the kinds of songs and monologues that will cut through the noise and book them work. She’s enjoyed partnerships with many other wonderful programs around the city including but not limited to Backstage University, Broadway Voicebox, Actor Therapy with Ryan Scott Oliver & Lindsay Mendez, and The Biz of Show. Because she conducts all her classes and coachings virtually, she’s able to work with clients all over the world, regardless of geography.

Learn more at auditionrepmatchmaker.com

CLASS IS LIMITED TO 20 STUDENTS

Sign up right here! 

So come on out if you’re going to be in NYC!  Would love to see you in real life. (How novel!)

Till then, wishing you many broken legs!

Best,

Sara

3 Holding Room Hacks–AKA how not to lose your cool before the audition

Alright, folks.

I know we spend a lot of time talking about how to be our best selves in the audition room, but I think it’s time we back it up a step and talk about…

The Holding Room.

Allow me to take you there.

The room is small and windowless. 

The fluorescent lights perfectly highlight the girl in the center of the room casually stretching her center split… at a singer’s call.

The air is perfumed with the smells of sweat, burning hair, and—wait is that actual perfume? Who is wearing all that perfume right now?!?

You close your eyes and take in the sweet sounds of nature:

  • The man furiously muttering his monologue to himself
  • The belter “That’s Mine, THAAAAAAT’S MINE”-ing to the heavens
  • The gaggle of recent college grads loudly discussing the callbacks they have this week and the fact that they heard this show is already cast

Just when you think you can take no more, another sound pricks your ears…

The monitor is calling your name.

It’s time to audition. 

If the simple act of imagining that scenario made your shoulders hike up to your ears, you are not alone. 

That’s why we’re talking about this today. Because there’s nothing worse than showing up to an audition fully prepared to be brilliant and then letting the holding room jungle sabotage you.

So, here they are: my three top strategies for not freaking out in a holding room.

1. If you can leave, LEAVE.

I know this is probably a no-brainer, but it still merits saying. If you are lucky enough to have an appointment time, leave the room and don’t come back until 15 minutes before your time slot. If you are dismissed till after lunch, come back after lunch.

The next two strategies are going to be much easier if you only have to employ them for 15 minutes.

Cool?

Okay, moving on…

2. Always bring headphones.

Do this whether you want to listen to something or not. Why?

Because wearing headphones is the universal sign for “Please, don’t talk to me right now.”

You’re going to see friends, rivals, and everything in-between at these calls. If you’re not the kind of person who likes socializing before an audition, put those headphones on.

Some other fun uses for headphones in holding rooms are:

  1. Podcasts (Great for distraction)
  2. Character-Appropriate Playlists (Great for focusing)
  3. Meditation Apps (Great for centering)

Or, like I said, just throw those puppies on as a deterrent to conversation.

Most people will understand this universal symbol.  For those who don’t, we have Hack #3….

3. Set firm (and friendly) boundaries

This is the hardest one to do, which is why I put it last.

Some people are just not going to understand that you don’t want to chit-chat before what is essentially a job interview.

Maybe they’re an extrovert who finds chatting calms their nerves and they figure the same is true for you. (Let’s be generous with our assumptions, right?)

Whatever their reasons are, sometimes you need to politely extract yourself from a conversation pre-audition. Here’s the basic script that I tend to riff off:

Hey, so good to see you! What time’s your audition? I need to center down for mine right now, but I’d love to chat when we’re both done!  

Okay, so it’s not Tennessee Williams, but it gets the job done. Feel free to add and subtract as necessary. (If you don’t actually want to chat after your audition, maybe don’t add that part…)

We all have different boundaries.

And, crucially, people won’t know what those boundaries are unless you tell them. 

For me, a smile and a wave is the perfect amount of friendly interaction in the holding room. If you’re a close friend, maybe it’s a hug and a three sentence exchangeprovided neither of us is in/about to line up for the audition.

Boundaries are a gift to the other person. I LOVE when people tell me what their boundaries are because it means I don’t have to waste any anxiety over whether I’m about to accidentally cross them.

(Now I can devote all that anxiety to other pursuits! HOORAY!!!)

So, there you have it! Those are my three super simple holding room hacks.

Please share your own holding room strategies on the Audition Rep Matchmaker Facebook page.

Let’s start a revolution, people.

Break legs! Hope to smile and wave at you in a holding room in the very near future. ❤

How to Get to Broadway Without Going to Broadway–Guest Blog By Luisa Lyons

I am a theatre addict. Specifically, a musical theatre addict. I grew up on a diet of movie musicals, listened to cast recordings on repeat, and of course, was a part of every musical theatre production available to me. 

Sometime in the late 1990s, I discovered the Broadway production of Into the Woods was available on VHS. The excitement! Broadway right from my living room in suburban Sydney! It was my first real introduction to Sondheim and Bernadette Peters. It was my first real introduction to Broadway, and I loved it. I didn’t even have to fork out for the plane ticket, let alone the theatre ticket.

Fast forward several years to 2011. I was at drama school in London studying, you guessed it, musical theatre. A group of us headed to the cinema to see Company starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, and a whole cast of luminary actors, filmed live from Lincoln Center. In addition to the main feature, there were interviews with various people including producer Ellen M. Krass. In her interview about bringing live theatre to the cinema, Krass mentioned she had had difficulty in obtaining funding for the project because investors hadn’t heard of filming live theatre for the cinema.

Huh?! Hadn’t these people seen Into the Woods? Or Sunday in the Park with George? Or Victor Victoria? In that moment, I decided to write my thesis on filmed live musicals. I learnt that filming the stage for public distribution is a tradition as old as film itself, and as technology has improved, so has the product, and demand, for theatre content.

After I wrote my thesis, I moved to New York. Broadway here I come! Except, I couldn’t go to the theatre. Shortly after I moved, I was diagnosed with leukemia. During my recovery, I was immune suppressed and wasn’t allowed to be around crowds of people. So subway and theatre was out. It was torture (I mean, cancer sucked in general, but not being able to do my favorite thing made it worse).

During my recovery, a wonderful thing happened. Broadway, well, off-Broadway, came to me. Daddy Long Legs became the first off-Broadway musical to stream live online. It was so exciting to be able to see this beautiful production from the safety and comfort of my living room in Brooklyn. Even though I was alone in my living room, I was joined by over 150,000 people from 135 countries around the world.   

Thanks to filmed live musicals, when I need my theatre fix, I don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars. I can pop on a DVD of Billy Elliot or the final Broadway cast RENT. I can log onto BroadwayHD and watch Holiday Inn, or head over to Digital Theatre and see the Regent’s Park production of Into the Woods.

I’ve spent the past year putting together a database of filmed live musicals. It features over 100 stage musicals that were legally filmed for public distribution. Filmed Live Musicals is intended to be a place where you can discover more about these shows, and where to view them. The database currently has over 100 shows, and the exciting part is that is just keeps growing!

Filmed live musicals are not a replacement for live theatre, but a way to make theatre more accessible. Of course, nothing beats seeing theatre live in person, but filmed live musicals are a great way to access theatre when cash is tight, you live far away, or your immune system is acting up.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my next fix!

Check out Filmed Live Musicals at www.filmedlivemusicals.com

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Luisa Lyons is an Australian actor, singer, and writer, living in New York. She holds an MA in Music Theatre from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. When she’s not nerding out about musicals, Luisa can be found running the streets of Brooklyn. Learn more at www.luisalyons.com and follow her on twitter @luisalyons.