A world of uncertainty: Leaving my bubble

It’s hot today, so why not grab an iced coffee and join Joel Granger in his first column on AussieTheatre!

Joel Granger. Image by Mark Flower.

Having moved straight from high school to WAAPA, I have never known what life outside of an institution was like since I was five years old. I’ve always been used to the security of having someone else plan out my day for me and knowing exactly what was around the corner. As such, I was actually quite petrified to leave the comforting ‘bubble’ of drama school, where I got to do what I love with the people I love most every day, and go into a future of major uncertainty.

Now that I’ve finally touched down in New Zealand, I can officially say that I’ve finished my extended showcase tour, and that I actually had the best time. I always assumed that I would do Sydney showcase, stay around a few more days, and then go home. Yet it has now been a grand total of 40 days since I left the picturesque yet overbearing sunshine in Perth, and I have only today become reacquainted with the constant windy chill that is New Zealand ‘summer’. Like most of my other classmates, I flew to Sydney, to Melbourne, to Sydney, then back to Melbourne again, finally ending up home three rescheduled flights later. While it has been a very busy time, I can safely say that I am really enjoying life in the ‘real world’.

The thing I was probably most worried about in the real world was auditioning. We’ve constantly been told that each audition is not necessarily about that particular job, but more about making a good impression and being seen. That was the part that worried me. Does that mean that every audition needs to be the best thing I’ve ever done, and if I screw up, I’ll never be hired again? However, another thing we’ve constantly been told is that the panel want you to do well. And this definitely seems to be the case. The panels on the auditions I’ve done so far have been incredibly lovely, and I quickly started to realise that these are just normal human beings who are looking for the best cast possible, and this strange process is just the best universal way for them to do it. While the pearly white smile and encouraging sway of Julie Andrews set the bar pretty high for people being nice in professional auditions, everyone else came pretty close. I even started one of my auditions with an enthusiastic conversation about my handwriting. It’s almost been even more comforting to learn that everyone else going in front of these panels has been as equally lovely and welcoming, and any sense of theoretic ‘competition’ has not been apparent at all.

Image by Clint Mason.
Image © Clint Mason used under a Creative Commons License.

I was also surprised to learn that auditions were pretty similar to the mock ones we did in drama school. I would often watch other people in ‘Performance Prac’ be made to go through scales, and smugly watch, realising that this was just a class exercise and that never happened in the real world. But guess what I’ve had to do in two auditions so far… I even had to do some harmony exercises in an audition the other day. (Side note for Derek Bond: I’m sorry that I sometimes got deliriously distracted in your 5.00 aural classes on a Wednesday afternoon. But it was in that moment, that I realised just how important they were. I’ll never doubt you again.) I also found it astonishing how quickly three years of acting training goes out the window as soon as you put me in front of a panel. Generalised interpretation, unmotivated gestures, and throw some major jaw tension into the mix, just for kicks.

I have also learnt that what differences you can offer to the industry are usually a really good thing. I was always worried that I’d never get an agent after drama school because I’m a full-blown ginger and I look like a 12 year old. I even asked my teachers at my end of second year interview whether I should be ready to dye my hair brunette before showcase. My acting teacher seemed very confused as to why I would do that, assuring me that my hair would make me stand out and that he often looked at it and it reminded him of a horse. (I think he meant it as a good thing?) Funnily enough, the first two TV jobs I got to self-test for were because I’m a full-blown ginger and because I look like a 12 year old.

Although I am fully preparing myself to be overwhelmed with the eventual reality that I’m not going back to uni in January and that I won’t get to see all of my year level everyday, I am so relieved with how this next stage is going.
While I may have got home much later than anticipated, I really don’t mind if it’s because there have been a range of opportunities in a really thriving industry at the moment.

Joel Granger

Born in the land of sheep and hobbits, Joel Granger moved to Australia to study at WAAPA's Music Theatre course, class of 2015. Currently playing the role of Elder McKinley in the Australian tour of 'The Book of Mormon' tour, his other stage and screen credits include 'She Loves Me', 'Brigadoon', 'Sweeney Todd', 'Please Like Me' and 'True Story with Hamish & Andy.' He would like to say he enjoys long walks on the beach, but his ginger hair and freckled skin means he actually avoids sunshine as much as possible. Follow Joel on instagram at: @joelgranger_

Joel Granger

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