Showcase Myths: Busted

Welcome to the first of many coffee dates with Matilda Moran and Joel Granger! Both graduates from WAAPA’s Musical Theatre course in 2015, Matilda and Joel will spend the next 12 months keeping AussieTheatre.com readers updated on the highs and highs of life after showcase. So sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy!

See you at showcase!

Joel Granger and Matilda Moran backstage at WAAPA, 2015
Joel Granger and Matilda Moran backstage at WAAPA, 2015

Despite all the rewarding and exciting experiences we had at our three years of drama school, we could never quite rid ourselves of the dreaded showcase tour that would signify the end of everything. Three years of training culminating in a three-minute performance. As such, we were constantly overwhelmed with a tirade of myths and misconceptions that we eventually found were largely exaggerated.

(Disclaimer: This is 100% based on personal experience, and we are so aware that each showcase experience is so different, and that we have absolutely no right to give anyone advice on the matter)

Myth #1: You should start sorting out showcase in first year

It’s good to have potential options that you accumulate throughout the course, but take showcase as it comes. Depending on how your course runs, we found we had a significant amount of time once our shows were over to really focus on finding a good piece- doing thorough research and testing out as many pieces as possible. The artist and the person you are at this point in your life will probably be quite different, and it’s a bit hard to pre-empt that too early. And yes, a lot of us ended up doing pieces that we’d already performed, but that was probably more a coincidence, rather than a ‘I’m going to learn this song now because I’m going to do it for showcase in three years time.’

Myth #2 Your showcase number MUST be the best thing you’ve ever performed

Yes, your showcase should show off your strengths. However, it’s more important that you show who you are to an audience of people who are mostly seeing you for the first time. All of us were on a search for the unattainable ‘perfect song’, but instead realised we had to choose something that we were comfortable with and genuinely enjoyed performing. Also the performance circumstances are difficult enough as it is- and under such pressure, you may not get that high note that’s already a bit shaky.

Myth #3 You won’t be able to cope with the nerves

At the end of the day, we had to treat it like another show and remind ourselves that we’d already done it so many times; doing it in front of the agents was just another performance. Except this time we weren’t doing a tech run to an empty theatre – we had an audience of eager theatre lovers who were excited to see fresh faces in the industry.

Myth #4 The dreaded ‘foyer’- it’s a bloodbath!

Most of us were more nervous for the big meet and greet afterwards than the actual performance itself. However, we all quickly learnt that everyone is just a normal, accommodating human being. Yes, its nice to make a good impression for the agents- but they probably already know whether they want you or not by now. There are also a range of casting agents and other industry professionals, and it turned out to just be a really nice opportunity to meet a range of new people.

And let’s be honest: everyone’s just making the most of the free drinks.

Myth #5 When agents say, “tell us about yourself”, you’re expected to impress them with your High C and triple fouetté

At one point, Matilda found that after nibbling on the provided food (which was regrettably messy and difficult to eat), she had come face to face with an agent. Fortunately, the pieces of meatball stuck in both their teeth served as an icebreaker for a wonderful conversation about food, cats and mutual awkwardness. Not only was this more enjoyable than the standard post-showcase dialogue, but it allowed a chance to bond. Ultimately, you’re entering into a relationship. The agent wants to gain a sense of who you are, and you need to determine whether you can talk to them not only about your career, but your life.

Myth #6 An agent’s decision is based on your showcase number

Of course it’s the biggest factor. However, we found that show reels, previous performances, personal reputation, and even your Facebook profiles, are used to determine whether you fit with an agency. Yes, it probably makes you feel a bit stalked, but agents are smart enough to use all the resources available to them to make a decision.

Myth #7 If an agent doesn’t give you an offer, they don’t think you’re talented

Not that we have any right to speak on their behalf at all, but agent interest is dependant on so many different factors. Who else they have on their books, their specialities within the industry, or whether they even have any more space. An agent could think you are immensely talented and really lovely, but the timing just isn’t right for them to take you. Try not to let it dishearten you, and trust that there will be the right agent out there for you.

Myth #8 There’s a big rush to sign with an agent! Spit spot!

It’s more important to be with someone you’re going to be happy with for your long-term career, than to rush into signing just because everyone else in your year seems to be sorting things out quickly. You’re allowed to take your time to decide and consult as many trustworthy people as you can. In fact, why not take the time to get your own back, and stalk them as much as possible?

Myth #9 Showcase is a living hell and you’re going to be really panicked and stressed and everyone’s going to hate each other

By the time we were up to our final showcase performance in Sydney, we realised this was more about a celebration of the last three years. We were lucky enough to have a lot of ensemble numbers that meant we were just able to enjoy the experience of performing with each other and doing what we love most. When it comes down to it, there are so many factors outside of your control, and the best thing you can do is go out and be yourself, and remember why you started this crazy ride in the first place.

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Matilda Moran and Joel Granger is a guest writer for AussieTheatre.com