I took a deep breath and walked in. My heart was pounding out of my chest as I faced the room of judges. I told them my name, the monologue I was going to perform, and closed my eyes. Ready, set, go.
I opened my mouth, but my mind was blank. All eyes were on me as I struggled to find the words. I had been waiting for this moment since I was accepted to the Screened Theater Program and learned the play this year was A Few Good Men. I had practiced so many times, but now I couldn’t remember any lines. Those two seconds felt like an eternity. Angry at myself, I debated asking if I could start over. In that moment of terror I found courage. Make it or break it. What’s the damn line? My gut told me to keep going.
“THIS IS BULLSHIT!”
Those words were not even remotely close to my monologue, but a surge of relief washed over me as I realized I was back on track, and from there I improvised the rest. I forced myself to look up at the judges and was met with blank stares.
“Thank you,” I said, and left. I held my composure until I turned the corner. Completely deflated, I hung my head. My dreams had evaporated before my eyes.
I flopped on my bed. All that for nothing. My dream of starring as Lt. Daniel Kaffee felt unattainable. Pacing, I stubbed my toe, landing in front of my mirror. I caught my reflection doubled over in pain and sadness. How pathetic.
My frustration fueled my determination to carry on. I grabbed some monologues and rehearsed in front of the mirror, a camera, my dogs, any audience I could find.
I went to sleep that night agonizing over my performance. How could I forget those lines? Call backs were the next day, and although I had my doubts, I still had a tiny glimmer of hope.
When I arrived at school, I reluctantly approached the callback list. There it was, at the top, in big black letters: ZACHARY SIRKIN.
The director approached me, “You did really well. Your veins were popping out of your neck when you said the bullshit line!” Had improvising landed me this call back?
The next audition would determine our roles. My stomach swarmed with butterflies, as the director called, “Julian will read for Kaffee.” My heart sank. Julian had been the lead in every play, a natural actor teachers adore.
”Zach you read for …” I held my breath. Please let it be Kaffee. “… Kaffee.” Yesssss! Oh wait… I’m going head-to-head with the best actor in the school.
I put my heart and soul into that first scene. Eventually, only Julian and I remained. My director’s advice echoed in my mind, Talent doesn’t trump hard work. With enough effort, you can overcome any obstacle.
“I want to see them both read,” the director said. I read second, hands shaking but voice strong.
Regardless of the outcome, I was confident that I had found my voice and that itself was an accomplishment. If I don’t get the part, I’ll just have to work that much harder next time.
The next day I approached the call board. I took a deep breath, heart pounding, and read in big black letters, DANIEL KAFFEE … ZACHARY SIRKIN.
I learned I was not a person who was going to just wallow in my misery: I would get up and push myself through rough patches. I recently had an important interview and drew upon this experience to overcome uncertainty. I went into it nervous but sure of myself. Whatever happened I would find a creative solution. Through my struggle, I discovered my passion for acting, igniting my confidence and internal motivation. In the future, I know I will be able to call on these skills again.