You’ve studied for years, coached your aria for months, prepped the audition for weeks and waited on pins and needles for days since the big sing to see if you finally landed your dream role, that vehicle that will take you over the cusp and into the promised land, and then you see it: the cast list. It’s been posted. And it looks a lot different than you’d hoped. You think you’re a Tamino but you’re cast as Monostatos; a Rudolfo but you’re given Parpingol. Now what?
Every singer at some point or another experiences trauma of this sort; after all, dying is a part of living. There is no painless career. But understanding how you are wired to cope can help you move more smoothly through the necessary steps to recovery and get you back on your feet for another massive knock on the chin. You need to know that your mind is set up to bring you through this tough time. You need to understand:
The 5 Stages of Grief for Not Getting the Part You Wanted.
Stage 1: Denial.
Your first perusal of the list is very controlled. Of course you see right away that your name isn’t where it should be, but you are very careful to show no sign of emotion, no disappointment or frustration. Never mind that the milk is spilled everywhere. You rationalize and compartmentalize because it is silly and humiliating to stare sputtering while your peers and colleagues mill about. This is normal. Embrace it. You’ve got to pretend you don’t care. You’ve got to keep cool, kid. Fake it ‘til you make it. Never mind that you are a youngest child and always got all the legos you wanted for Christmas. Sooner or later, you had to lose one. Ridi, Pagliaccho. It doesn’t really matter in the long run—you didn’t care that much anyway.
Stage 2: Anger.
OH MY GOODNESS YOU CARE SO MUCH. Shut the front door. Throw the cards down, flip the table, light it on fire. They cast you as WHAT now? You know what? You don’t need these clowns. You don’t need this sing. You’ve got bigger fries to fish. This program is stupid anyway. You need to focus on other projects anyway. You’re probably just too good. Because usually the people who get the parts get them because they excel in mediocrity, right? Sure. Keep telling yourself that. Must be the whole world vs. you today.
Stage 3: Bargaining.
So what did you do wrong? Is it possible that their problem with you is really their problem, not yours? Or was your audition truly that dreadful? Maybe you held the door too much when you saw the director around. Maybe you didn’t hold it enough. Maybe your handshake was too firm. Maybe you should have worn a tie. Maybe not. Maybe it was your speaking voice. Maybe you’re a miserable excuse for a singer. Go eat your feelings for a while.
Hey, here’s a revolutionary thought, guys! Maybe—just maybe—your not getting the big part really has nothing to do with you. Maybe it has everything to do with the person who did get it. Ever think about that? Because after all, one role can’t (usually) be filled by three great singers—just one. You know it’s a line—“we just decided to go in a different direction”—and it feels so hollow to say it right now—but it might actually be the truth.
Stage 4: Depression.
But I WANTED that role!!! Not much to say about this stage. Yeah, yeah, go ahead. You’ve pretended it didn’t bother you for long enough. Go ahead and cry over that spilled milk. You big baby. What kind of ice cream are you picking up on the way home?
Stage 5: Acceptance
You know what? A role is a role. Cup it up, suckcake. And if you didn’t get a role at all, now you have more time to prepare for other auditions. Not audition season anymore? Shoot. Better use the time to work on your technique. Scoop up a new aria or two. Read a pedagogy text. Lose some weight. Take a dance class. Write on your blog (ha). Maybe you can get through the stages quickly if you type it all up in a self-indulgent rant and caption a meme for each stage. You know what, kid? You’re still in the club. You just didn’t get to wear the birthday hat this time around.