My Rejection Story

One of the things bound to happen in the creative world is rejection. You go to the audition/design proposal/directing pitch full of confidence and hope. You have put in the preparation, your research is done, you’re experienced and have amazing credentials. You get on with the director/producers and walk out of the room convinced you’ll be given good news. A week later you receive an email; ‘I regretfully inform you that you have not been casted/chosen for project name. Thank you for your application and we wish you all the best in the future.’ That’s when those thoughts creep in; ‘What’s wrong with me?’ ‘Am I not experienced/smart/professional enough?’ ‘Did I come across too quiet/uptight/casual/confident?’ ‘Why was I not picked?’ It is the wondering and lack of why that causes an artist to doubt their abilities, visions and passions. Sometimes it makes one think twice before applying for an open call in fear of being rejected. As with other aspects of life , rejection  is something artists faces in any practice. I myself have an idea.

Hazel in Youth Theatre

While in youth theatre, I knew acting and drama were my desired career pursuits. That was why I longed for the leading role in the end of the year pantomime. ‘Yes, this will give me the best start.’ ‘I will be discovered.’ ‘I’ll make a great impression once out in the real world.’ That however, wasn’t meant to be. At the time I believed; ‘I wasn’t working hard enough’, ‘I must be too fat’, ‘I’m not popular enough’, ‘Maybe I’m too serious’. It was only in my last year there I realised as my teacher said that ‘It could be done and casted many ways. Don’t think that you’re not good because you didn’t get picked.’ That is advice I thrived to carry with me into my third level and professional years. 

Hazel while studying Performing Arts

During my third level years opportunities have come along through open castings and auditions. An experience I remember specifically related to both is when I was in second year. We were in our finals for our Physical Theatre Module when a well-known Irish director (I mean, well established) and his team came into us. They were looking for extras for a film they were due to shoot that summer. They spoke to us individually asking where we were from and our plans for the summer, they then took ‘headshots’ and left. I recall a classmate of mine saying ‘I don’t care, I don’t want to do it.’ … And they were casted! I thought; ‘I wanted to be in it!’, ‘Why didn’t they pick me!’, ‘I should’ve worn make up that day, ahhh!’ Another example is an audition I did for a play in Galway. I had a free semester in third year and thought no better way to utilise my time. I went to the audition and it went well. A week later, the director called me saying; ‘It was a very hard decision you were down to the last three but we went with someone else in the end. We were very impressed though.’ Then why wasn’t I picked!!!! Of course I didn’t say that, I took the rejection gracefully with the arts world being small I didn’t want to ruin my reputation so early on. 

In my final year, I was in full focus and yearned for that First Class Honors. I gave up drink in the run up to our grad show, quit ‘social’ smoking, worked out most days (I was in the best shape of my life and still trying to get back to it!), stayed on top of my reading, made sure I was off book for rehearsals and did all the right things (as I thought). I was certain I was getting the 1:1, I was less than one percent away from it after the Christmas semester I have to get it, I will get it… I ended up with a Second Class Honors. The sense of rejection and devastation took over me so much I wondered why did I even bother. ‘What does that say about me as an artist?’ ‘Am I not good enough?’ ‘What was the fault or faults in my work?’ Out of all the rejections to date, this was the one that I took the hardest and almost quit theatre completely. One year later, a close friend of mine went through the same thing and I told her to not let it define her as an artist as I did. A year later, we set up our own theatre company, staged a sell out show and walked away with an award. 

Rejection whether for a local theatre group or a huge scale film production is never easy to take. The most important thing I have learnt is to not let it define you and what you do after counts the most. Even writing this has made me reflect on my experiences and how I deliver rejection as a producer. As I look out at the fog on Benbulben it has made me think twice and want to be mindful and give more to the artist than a ‘no’. I wish to no longer be like the fog but to let the artist see the full view, give advice and encouragement in moving forward with their craft.

Ace your Audition

By Rena Bryson

As an acting teacher, I’m often asked how to best prepare for an audition. Being an actor and producer I’ve been on both sides of the audition process. Having recently cast Eva’s Echo’s upcoming production Starseed I felt now was the opportune time to share some audition tips. 

Headshots

Having high quality and clear headshots is often essential when applying to audition. Professional headshots are best but if it is an expense you can not afford ask a friend to take some photos for you, even if the quality is not as high it’s still better than applying without one.

Headshot session with Catriona Bonner Photography
  • Wear plain clothing, you are the focus.
  • Same goes for the setting, keep your background plain.
  • Make sure it looks like you, this means no heavy make up.
  • Your eyes should be perfectly in focus, alive, and energized.
  • Some agencies will ask for a full body shot as well as a head and shoulder shot, capture both on the same day for consistency. 
  • Different agencies have preferences for color or black and white headshots, have a copy of each shot in both styles.  

Showreels

A showreel is a great opportunity to showcase your talent before your audition. If you don’t have any experience on camera you can still create a showreel, simply film 2 – 3 monologues or duologues at home. 

  • Include your name, headshot and agency if you have one at the beginning of your showreel. 
  • Many producers or agents will have limited time to view several showreels so put your best work at the start.
  • Each clip should ideally be of similar length, around 30 seconds per clip is ideal.  
  • Show the variety of your talent by showcasing contrasting roles.
  • If you have a suitable clip, lead with a clip of a project similar to the one you’re applying for. 
  • Do not include extra work in your showreel, unless you are applying for an extra role.

Dress Comfortably

When preparing for an audition make sure you are not wearing clothing that will limit your ability to act. Those skinny jeans might look great, but if your unable to use the space or follow the directors physical direction your putting your audition in jeopardy. 

Warm up

Warm up your body and voice before you audition. An actor’s body is their instrument and needs to be tuned before any performance. Due to the amount of audition applications each actor we see at Eva’s Echo usually has a fifteen minute slot. This doesn’t allow time for warm ups in the space.

Be Punctual

Be on time or early if possible. I always take note of actor’s punctuality as I see it as a reflection of their time management for rehearsals. 

Research

Research the production and the role before applying. Over the years we’ve received so many emails from actors applying for unsuitable roles or for a production that collided with their own schedule because they did not read the application before applying. This wastes both the time of the actor and producer. 

Photo Credit – Sabrina Kelleher

Read the script

If you are provided the script or a scene before the audition read and analyse the work, especially the role you are auditioning for. You’ve been given an opportunity to rehearse with the text prior to the audition, meaning the director expects you to have done so. I don’t always provide the script before an audition but when I do I hope to discuss the play with the actor. An extra bonus is when an actor memorizes the script for an audition, without being asked. This has only happened once at Eva’s Echo and when it came down to a severely close call we cast the actor who had put in that extra effort.  

Be Yourself

Photo Credit – Piotr Łyszkiewicz

When you enter the audition room you have an opportunity to introduce yourself. The time spent speaking with an actor before their performance is an important part of the audition. When casting I am always factoring in how people would work together as creating a strong team is just as important as strong performances in individual roles. Be yourself, be friendly and use the time to show the director what you would be like to work with. 

Take Direction

After you’ve completed your first reading the director will often ask you to perform the piece again with notes. This an opportunity to show your variety and that you can take direction. Make sure you understand the directors note and ask for clarity if needed.

Ask Questions

Be open and authentic, if you have a question about the script, the production or the rehearsal process it’s the best time to ask.


Artist in Love

By Hazel Doolan

Prologue

In light of the two year anniversary of our debut of the romantic comedy ‘Match’, I thought it was only appropriate to blog about a relevant theme. We’ve all been there, all in search of something special with detours along the way. Awkward secondary school crushes, dramatic romantic affairs in uni, long term relationships, brief encounters, standing up dates, being stood up, blind dates, Tinder dates and so forth. The same goes as an artist but can vary depending on the scenario and the stages one may be at.

Act One: Pursuing

The search on cast/class nights out, the swiping on an App and creeping in the college library/theatre. Underneath all the drama and excitement of pursuing a beau, an artist like anyone else wants a meaningful connection. Best case scenario would be picnics in a meadow while the love interest plays the guitar while you recite poetry and then, you know. You know that you’ve found the one… It doesn’t exactly happen that way though. Typically you’d be doing your best take on movies, making impressions with your knowledge of art/literature/theatre practices and or reciting that famous monologue. Over blaring music at a house party/night club you debate why Brecht’s works are still significant in modern society although the person in question may not know who Brecht is. This sets your ambitions to impress higher and then you share more of your ‘artsy’ knowledge. In some cases you successfully woo said person and you walk away with a number/Facebook friend request. This leads into more conversations about your chosen craft. Late night texts, funny memes they thought you might like, ‘Hey, how’re you?’ messages and so forth. Before you know it, you’ve been asked to go for a drink/coffee.

Act Two: Dating

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

So, you have a date. You have caught the attention of another being who could potentially be the guitar player/poetry reader under the tree. What now? Well, you need to make sure you’ve enough artistic material to keep you covered in conversation in order to not repeat yourself, a killer outfit which expresses your individuality while appealing your best assets, and… Wait, did you already tell them about your trip to London and the terrible Opera? You can’t repeat yourself again, quick! What else is there? No you’ve said too much about Brecht and you’ve said your ‘let’s break the fourth wall’ joke. Ok, don’t panic. You’ll definitely have more to say. 

You arrive and there they are… Where’s the music? The lighting change? Hmm, alright then. You exchange a friendly meeting and you proceed to get coffee/drink, the curtain is up. The date in all goes well, you laugh and find out more about your potential beau as they share their interests with you, artistic and others. The panic you had before seems irrelevant now and you continue to enjoy the rest of your date. 

Act Three: Relationship

The unimaginable has happened, your potential beau is now your beau. They go to all your shows/exhibitions, they lend a helping hand for flyering/get outs, they have tea made after a long rehearsal, they show extra support during tech/show/exhibition week and know not to throw anything out that may be a ‘prop’. Your house is full of crap and you’re drowning in paperwork from applications/scripts but they are there for you throughout. They are at the stage where they know references from Grease and Chicago which they may not like the fact that they do but they know how much those movies mean to you and embrace it. You do the same for them, whether they are a fellow artist or not. Then on a summer’s day you are sitting outside reciting poetry while they are playing guitar/picking a song on Youtube… And then ye have to leg it inside out of the rain cause let’s face it we’re in Ireland.

Epilogue

An artist’s journey for love and romance is no different from others whether looking for love, dating or being in a relationship. They embark on their search in the same ‘stages’, experience the same fear of having nothing to talk about on a first date and dream of having that magical moment as depicted in romance novels/movies. Like any relationship though it is important to remember that ‘Perfect is just perfect, better is better.’  

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

A Blog about Vlogs

By Rena Bryson

I write this blog in the mists of that strange post show blues, relief to have my life back combo that I’m sure most theatre makers can relate to. Bringing Vlogger from script to stage was an unforgettable worldwind of filming, fighting with technology, urika moments, long days, lots of laughs and even more fights with technology, ironic I know. 

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

I was inspired to write Vlogger after an experience at a family friends home, while visiting I noticed the children were watching YouTube videos on repeat. Their mother told me this was their main source of entertainment, which was fascinating mainly because the videos were so unbelievably boring. Once I got home I fell deep down a youtube rabbit hole of mundane videos, morning routines, evening routines, sick day routines, you name any mundane activity and I guarantee there is a video of a beautiful 20 something year old doing it. 

It was hard to tell the difference between research and procrastination when I found myself watching youtube all day. I had never before considered the impact Youtube has had on our culture, from Barack Obama’s viral Yes We Can video to Justin Beiber’s speedy leap from Youtuber to star, the platform has the power to change lives.  

After watching way too many hours of Vlogs I became fascinated by the line between reality and edited reality. In most other forms of entertainment there is some separation of creator and creation but when your creation is about your life how seperated from it can you really be? Especially in an industry were authenticity is a key element of the entertainment.   

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

This question was explored when my research (youtube rabbit hole) lead me to Vlogger Logan Paul who recorded footage of a dead body and released it to YouTube. When recording this disturbing footage, he presented it in a casual manner which matched his dementer during mundane experiences in his other videos, it appeared that he viewed no difference between his absurd and everyday actions. This detachment from social norms and the blurred line between one’s authentic self to the self constructed version, inspired a great deal of Mia’s rationale throughout the play. 

I felt a multimedia theatre production was the best medium to explore these issues, by merging live performance and film both real Mia and online Mia could share the same space. The audience could witness the hidden turmoil in Mia’s life alongside the creation of her vlogs, the content creation process and see an influencer use Facetune in real time. 

Mia’s identity is completely linked to her online persona and even if she does not participate in activities such as morning yoga, she gains happiness from others believing that she is, this allows her to experience a short term joy greater than she would achieve through the activities themselves. As her personality begins to merge with her online persona, her own sense of identity is lost and she becomes a shallow representation of herself. This element of mundane vlogs is what I believe makes the content so appealing, especially to young viewers. Stepping into the shoes of someone who never breaks their diet, lives an exciting life style and is effortlessly beautiful is a welcome break from reality.

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

Many Vloggers share their mental health difficulty’s with their audiences but maintain an overly optimistic outlook on life, which although inspiring is often not an authentic representation of living with a mental illness. Perhaps it is comforting to some viewers, especially those dealing with mental health difficulties to believe for a 20 minute Vlog, that life is simpler than it seems. After all, is it all that different from enjoying a sitcom that will maintain the status quo in 30 minutes?

In the same way previous generations escaped their reality by enjoying sitcoms, thousands of online audience members follow the lives of youtubers. The key difference being perceived authenticity, while previous generations admired celebrities looks and were influenced by their style, say getting ‘the Rachel’ haircut, there was a barrier between real life and entertainment. The public were aware that celebrities could afford personal trainers, beauty treatments and surgery but these practices weren’t attainable by the general public. Unfortunately a great deal of Youtubers and Influencers continue the trend of unattainable beauty standards and as they are not traditional celebrities their looks appear attainable to you or me if we buy their green tea or follow their five tricks for a flat tummy. 

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

The most dangerous aspect of this issue is that through apps like Facetune these influencers are creating beauty standards they can not match themselves. The normalisation of filters and Facetune encourages the user to present themselves as flawless online, which if done consistently can have serious effects on mental health as the user inevitably compares themselves to the edited image. I admit I’ve given myself a fright once or twice when my own face was reflected back at me while snapchat filters changed. 

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

I wished to spark a conversation about sexual consent and technology following the final scene of the play. Following her brother’s death Mia compulsively creates content about the tragedy. Leaning on social media in a crisis similar to the way someone else may turn to drink, cigarettes or drugs in a time of great stress. Her partner Sandra scolds her for recording the funeral which leads to a fight, after which Mia loses a YouTube subscriber and goes over the edge. Focused only on her goal to gain online attention she places a camera by the bed and hits record before making up with Sandra and convincing her to have sex. Sandra consented to have sex with Mia but she couldn’t consent to the recording as she wasn’t even aware it was happening. In a digital age this is a scenario that is unfortunately not that far fetched and is worth discussing.

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

Vlogger posed a lot of questions, but did not give many answers because honestly the issues explored don’t have clear solutions. The internet is a powerful tool which can change lives for better or worse. Mia’s followers led her to find her missing brother possibly saving his life, but sharing his story online was a contributing factor to his depression and may have been the reason he ended his life. Recognizing the power the internet has is the first step towards being responsible consumers and creators online.

I hope to go back to Vlogger and expand the piece as there is so much to explore. But for now I’m putting the script to sleep for a while and enjoying cat videos without wondering what impact they have on our culture. Till next time, don’t forget to like and subscribe!

My favorite memory was our first full run before show week including all projections, set and costume. It was a tough journey for everyone with challenges along the way but we had an amazing first run and we all just gave each other a big hug after. It was so nice going home after that long day seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Hazel Doolan – Director
Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

“Being on the team for vlogger was a very interesting experience. Watching the many levels of the show from the relationship dynamic, to the projections and the constant change of the expectation of a perfect life on social media to the reality of the situation. Its always been a pleasure to come aboard on the Eva’s productions and probably as the last member to be on board ,you see it in a fresher perspective but on capturing Vlogger from a visual perspective, there was something so refreshing bringing out the issues of modern Ireland on stage. To be able to show that on a larger scale and then to focus in on the main characters relationship, its incredible. Everyone on the project was brilliant and there was a great feeling of unity and has a great creative space to thrive in”

Catriona Bonner – Photographer

Directing Vlogger

By Hazel Doolan

In late January 2019, I put myself forward for the directing role of Rena Bryson’s ‘Vlogger’. Though fresh from my previous directing gig for Dayshift, I wished to challenge myself further in opting for a raw gripping drama with a hint of comedy. The idea of integrating technology into live theatre always terrified me, as something could easily go wrong whether it be timing of cues or technical faults. This fear was however one that I wished to face by embracing modern technology and combining it with old school live theatre.

Director Hazel Doolan watching over the cast during filming.

One of the elements I wish to achieve as director is to give both characters a story. I want to show that there is more to them than the vlogger and the girlfriend. They have pasts, a present and wishes for the future. In search for Sandra I aimed to cast an actor who would give the character substance, be relatable to the audience and make the relationship with Mia genuine. In my minds eye, Sandra is from a humble background and a good family, never went through anything hugely dramatic. Sandra felt however that she was different. She felt oppressed in her home life, by her family and couldn’t figure out why. It was when she discovered that she was LGBT and came out to her family she realised it was her family oppressing her hence her estrangement. Leona Burke was successful in casting as she gave Sandra likeable, grounded and genuine qualities. I honestly thought that I could sit down and have a cup of tea with this girl. As for Mia, I took inspiration from certain vloggers on Youtube which ranged from girly routines to very personal content. Mia is as one would call ‘basic’, pastel clothes, pastel decor, inspirational quotes, pink smoothies and so forth. There is however, an underlying anxiety within Mia that only becomes amplified the more she immerses herself into the vlogger lifestyle. She then feels obligated to share more personal content hence putting a strain on her relationships.

During the first three rehearsals in particular I reached back to my go to techniques of characterisation inspired by Stanislavski. I was interested to know the subtext of each character while the actors were on their feet. For example, during one scene I would shout ‘Stop, character’s name’ that said character would then verbalise their internal thoughts during the said scene. I integrated this into other characterisation exercises which enabled the actors to get an understanding of how and why they are how they are at a certain point of the play. For example, I had the actors reimagine and relive the moment that their characters came out to their families.  During this phase I asked the actors to stop and verbalise their internal thoughts again while asking further questions about what is happening, how they feel and if certain things make them a certain way. For example, if a family member reacted in a way that dismissed the character what does that make the character feel and what does that say about them as a person.

Directing the filming of Vlogger projections

Then the fun began when it came to directing the projections. Working with the production team, the script was gone through with a fine tooth comb to pinpoint the exact projections needed whether they be images and or video clips. Even after every production meeting I would always turn back and say ‘Did we forget anything?!’ Jokes aside, this was the element that was going to challenge me as a director as my knowledge of filming and technology was very limited. When it came to working behind the camera, I have learned an immense amount about how the smallest things can make a difference. For example, I had not been that aware of lighting and would’ve thought that as long as it were day light that it would be fine. However, with the expertees and know how our designer and videographer, I have first hand seen how the slightest adjustments improves the quality of the image. As for style, I have taken inspiration from other vloggers and was given the freedom to play around with angles, styles and create the vision for Mia’s Youtube channel.  Since then, the projections have just been completed and all set for the show.

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

We’re still in the process of developing Vlogger however the experience has exposed me to a new kind of theatre which is interactive, modern and relevant to Irish youth. I have been enabled to integrate my own style with this new approach and hope to bring another dimension of storytelling to the script. I believe it is a way forward to create theatre for a young audience while maintaining the lifestyle of theatre.