Stuttering in College Part 2

I know a lot of this will sound like “woe is me,” but really, that’s not the point. First of all, it’s got a nice happy ending. Second of all, I want to show that although the journey may be difficult, it’s entirely doable — and by the way, try not to make the same mistakes I did!

Also, please do feel free to comment and share your own story. We’re all in this together.

On to the next bit of college.

One of the goals that I had my freshman year was to get involved in more extracurricular activities. During high school, I did the theatre thing, and that was it. I sat at home bored a lot. So at a minimum, I should get into this theatre thing again, right? I found out that auditions would be held for several plays. Clearly I needed to get in on this.

What I of course didn’t realize is that theatre at a university wasn’t just another extracurricular activity. Oh no. It was a major. This was supposed to be taken a lot more seriously. I just kind of showed up, unprepared, and tried to find out what I should be doing. There were a few short pieces available for reading. For whatever stupid reason, I chose one from Shakespeare.

Now, did I think I was going to stutter during this? Of course. But the mentality was No Regrets! I had done some theatre-esque public speaking in high school! I can do this! I need to do this! Even if they don’t give me a part, I can say I tried. And who knows, I might be able to meet some people.

So I get up in front of the directors and professors with this piece in hand. It’s dark. They’re sitting, staring, very serious. I don’t have to introduce myself, so bonus there.

They asked me a few quick questions, and I responded — without stuttering. I was loose! I was happy! This was going to be great! No pressure!

Then I started reading from this piece. (I was probably supposed to memorize and “perform” it.) Also, I can’t say that I completely understood what bit of Shakespeare I was reading.

Total disaster.

I could barely get the piece out, sweated a lot and then ran out of there. No Regrets! Oh well, let’s move on to the next thing, whatever that may be.

I thought I had screwed the entire thing up, so of course I didn’t follow up at all. The only people who saw this awful stuttering were those professors who I’d probably never see again. Minimal amount of damage done.

By this time I had joined the student newspaper (story to follow soon) and while I was up in the offices a few days later, one of the writers told me that I had gotten a callback. He was involved in the theatre.

What? How was that even possible? I ran over to check the list. Sure enough my name was on there. Twice. The first call back had already gone, but there was still another.

I went to that one. Maybe they need a tree in one of their plays to say a few words?

The director was interested in how I was able to freely talk before the audition but then got all gummed up as I spoke the piece. But more importantly, he said how these plays will take a lot of time, and they’re really meant for students who are pursuing this as a major. I told him I wasn’t planning on majoring in this.

Probably should have talked to someone and figured that bit out before auditioning.

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