Theatremaker Siobhan McMillan: ‘I’ve decided to avoid auditions completely’
I was a jobbing actress for a great many years. I hated auditioning and was pretty horrible at it, but here are some snippets that are now coming back to me like mini nightmare flashes.
I remember an audition at the start of my career for the role of Titania. The panel was clearly pretty weary of the whole experience and told me that they needed to see a really crazy, interesting version of Titania as they’d already seen lots of boring ones (charming!). So I proceeded to writhe and roll and sing, truly ‘birthing’ Titania, not giving up until I could sense some sort of interest from them. I heard back pretty swiftly: they had decided that they liked my ‘rendition’ so much that they would be going with a man in the role instead.
I remember an enormous sense of pride when the audience loved me as Tinker Bell and threw their shoes at me as Captain Hook
Another time I was instructed to ‘embody’ Captain Hook in one moment and then dash behind a bin and straight back out as Tinker Bell, fully realising her too, and then switch again and again just as quickly, from one to the next. I actually ended up getting that part and remember an enormous sense of pride when the audience loved me as Tinker Bell and threw their shoes at me as Captain Hook.
And there was the one where I spent 24 hours meticulously practising bending down and touching my foot in a “provocative and interesting manner” for a commercial. I believed I’d nailed it, especially as the casting required “girls with strange hair” and I was like, ‘Yes! That’s completely me!’ I then arrived to discover millions of girls with way stranger hair than me, and my gorgeous foot-touching was rendered obsolete.
What can we learn from these weird and wonderful experiences? Well, I’ve decided to avoid auditions completely and make, produce and perform my own work!
CV: Siobhan McMillan
Training: RADA; Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Theatre writing includes: Scratch Me, I Bleed and Laqueum (both co-written with Huntley Street Theatre); Mirrors (Fundamental Monodrama Festival in Europe, then Camden People’s Theatre); There Is No Failure. Only Feedback (Rosemary Branch Theatre, London)
Other credits include: Acting work includes Hippolita in ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Bristol Old Vic Studio), Beth in Merrily We Roll Along (New Theatre, Cardiff)
Siobhan McMillan was talking to John Byrne. Mirrors runs at London’s Leicester Square Theatre from March 28-April 14