By Oliver Sachgau
I don’t remember what made me audition for the Seagull.
Theatre has accompanied me in life as far back as Grade 2, where I managed to wrangle the role of the wolf in a musical adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood that my class performed in front of captivated kindergartners. I could probably still sing you parts of my song from then.
I knew I loved performing from that time on. But my decisions to audition always felt like a coincidence. Even though I knew I would love being part of a play, I would find reasons and excuses not to audition. I would tell myself that life was too busy right now or that it wasn’t a productive use of my time. Every few years, I’d suddenly get a burst of energy and try out. Each time, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let so many years lapse between performances. But each time, I did.
When I moved to Munich from Canada in 2016, one of the first things I did was find an English-language theatre group. I signed up for Entity’s newsletter, and told myself I would audition for the first show that piqued my interest.
But like before, life got in the way. I was starting a new job. I had to focus on that. I needed to get my life in order. Figure out my apartment situation. Dozens of small reasons kept me going for three years before that energy grabbed me again suddenly and I signed up to audition for the Seagull.
Part of what kept me back was that I didn’t know anyone in Entity. Auditioning when you know the people around you is nerve wracking enough, but I was a newcomer. Still, I decided to try.
I remember walking into the courtyard and seeing the other actors milling about. All of them carried themselves with such confidence. They knew what they were doing. I had to suppress the urge to turn around and pretend I had walked in by mistake. Later I learned many people were newcomers, like me.
After some warm up games, the director told us we would do some cold readings. As a pair, we would get a small scene, and then perform it in front of the group. As I watched the others perform their scenes, I was struck by how talented they were. It was still intimidating, but another feeling was bubbling up too. I wanted to learn from them. I wanted to spend as much time as I could around them, soaking up their knowledge.
After I performed my monologue in private — the last part of the audition process — it took ten minutes for my leg to stop shaking from the adrenaline.
As theatre people are, the Entity crew welcomed me as if I had always been a part of their lives. Even before any of us knew whether we would be cast, people were connecting and staying in touch online.
Oliver (nervous!) at the audition day. His scene partner Dasha later got the part of Nina, Konstantin’s lover.
In the end, I realized the audition was one of the best days I’d had in years. Sure, I was terrified for most of it, but I also loved it. It’s an electric feeling, to get to be surrounded by so many talented people, who will make you want to try harder, but who at the same time are also the friendliest group you’ve met.
I walked away that day thinking that even if I got no part, I was happy I had gone.
A few weeks later, an email arrived. The director wanted me to play Konstantin. I had to read it twice to make sure it said what I thought it said. I couldn’t have imagined that I would actually get a part like that.
So yes, auditioning as a newcomer is scary. But it’s also infinitely rewarding. I’ve told myself this many times before, but this time I mean it: I’m not going to wait years again before my next audition. I hope you don’t either.
Oliver as Konstantin with his mother Irina (Esther Gilvray) during a rehearsal and performing at the Munich Readery
Text: Oliver Sachgau Photos: Katrin Fegert