Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimised by rejection
A cocktail of self-deprecation and anger? You’re not alone
Let’s talk about rejection as I’m a self-hating masochist. Many of us have been very lucky in that we’ve been accepted into a top university, but that certainly does not mean we haven’t experience rejection. Rejection, much like an unwanted STD, is hard to shake off, but you will be able to eventually (unless it’s like really bad).
Since I may as well be asexual since starting university this won’t be an ode to rejection from the person you’re secretly in love with as quite frankly (*bitter tone*) I have little sympathy. Rather, I will discuss the emotionally-draining-soul-destroying-depressing-as-fuck-but-I’m-totally-over-it feeling of being rejected from Cambridge Theatre. Ah, CamDram, the IMBd of Cambridge (heavy emphasis on ‘Cambridge’ – it’s not that deep), the site which allows for thespians to know other thesps’ first names and 7th show, it’s venue, and time allotment.
After my first couple of rejections, I thought ‘Fair enough, I’ve got 0 credits to my name – like an organised cat hoping for a job in event management – have the credentials but not the experience. NB: I say ‘have the credentials’, for all I know my acting looks like a show monkey on crack. But then, as I was rejected from a couple more, and even a few more, and more fucking shows, I began considering the thought that maybe I’m just a bit shit (I know what you’re thinking, “noooo you’re so good, and funny and also dangerously good-looking”). As most of us can appreciate, going from school – where they, for the best part, boost your ego and morale – to university is quite a change of tone. No longer is the standard criticism just ‘they talk too much’ or ‘EBI (even better if) you do your workings out on the page’. Now, it’s a plain and simple, rather charming: you are shit.
The rejection does get to you, and like any hypersensitive young chap I thought maybe some auditions didn’t seem worth going to if I thought I stood no chance. However, a wise 3rd year (which, to a fresher seems like someone married with kids currently in a meeting to sort out their second mortgage) once said to me that going to auditions is not just an opportunity to be cast in a play/film/whatever will take you, but it is a chance to meet the people who will, in the future, be casting for other projects. The more they’ve seen you audition, the more exposure your acting is given, which in turn should allow them to see a greater range and remember you from a different audition.
This was perhaps proved to be true when I had three different auditions in 3 days and in each audition sat the same producer (tragic to say the least). Out of those three auditions I secured a role in one of her projects. Ignoring the fact I may have just worn her down, I do think that the fact she saw me audition for other projects enabled her to see that I have potential or am capable to take on the role I was given. I say this because I came out of the audition and felt it had gone a lot worse than the other two. Maybe they were looking to cast a quivering freak, or she took into consideration my other auditions… or she did just feel bad for me. Whatever it was, let’s raise a glass to her – cheers.
Rejection is not just limited to Theatre, and although the gravity of rejections may differ, it always affects us more than we expect. Why? * Putting on of a lab coat and holding a test tube* It is because the same section of our brain when we experience physical pain becomes activated when we experience rejection. I know, crazy.
A case study: Meryl Streep, the 21 time Oscar-nominated actress who Donald Trump infamously called ‘over-rated’, is amongst those who have publicly spoken about rejection. She auditioned for ‘King Kong’, a part that Dino De Laurentiis Senior’s son had recommended her for to his father, a part that eventually began the career of the great Jessica Lange. So, our dear, “over-rated” Meryl went to the audition and as she walked into the room the father said to his son, in Italian, “brutta”, “why did you bring me this ugly thing?”
Fortunately, Meryl understands Italian (I say fortunately, many would rather not hear this about themselves). But, before leaving the room, Meryl said, “I understand what you’re saying. I’m sorry I’m not beautiful enough to be in King Kong”. And if she were to say that in any film today and walk off, I’m pretty sure she’d be given the Oscar for Best Actress. Everyone faces rejection at some point, and it is these rejections which allows us to better ourselves, by learning from them. With luck, you won’t just be rejected for being too “brutta”, but you will be given constructive information that can be used in the future.
Etymologically, rejection is the act of throwing back. When you’re thrown back, the next thing to do is walk forwards, get thrown back again, walk forwards… and so on…. until you are no longer being thrown backwards. The dog walk is over. Get it? Because you, like a ball, are no longer being thrown around. Clever.
It’s a waiting game.