Taking the Angst Out of Auditioning

Dear Friends,

Have fun!

Oh, man, how can I have fun when these people are looking at me–just me–and judging me, and evaluating me, deciding whether or not they might call me back? Do they like me? Does my hair look fantastic today? Am I breathing? Oh, crap, what were my lines again?

Then there’s the post-audition hand-wringing: I wonder if they’ll pick me? How did I do? Did I give them what they wanted? Oh, man, I flubbed that one line, I wonder if they noticed. I was mostly in my body, but also in my head, could they tell? Crap, there were so many talented actors there–my friends! I wish them well, but, man I really want to get called back, too.

With all the angst floating around, how can we see clearly, relax, and have a good time?

Oh my gosh. We have to let the angst go. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get cast. Don’t try to read the director’s mind. Don’t try to please the director. Don’t try to give the director what you think they want. In fact, don’t make it about the director.

Do make it about your invisible scene partner. Do be in the moment. Do envision people you love in the (albeit empty) theater. Play to your significant other, your mentor, your mom, your child. Focus on what you do have control over. Skip the mind-reading and guesswork, and deliver your one-minute performance with passion.

Getting cast in a show is a bit like being asked out for a date. The director (suitor) chooses you because of who you are. They consider whether you and the show might be a good fit. Your best choice is to merely be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not in order to get chosen. If you have to change who you are, it won’t work. You can’t sustain pretending to be something you’re not. And you won’t be happy in the process.

Trust that you’re enough. You’re fantastic. You are interesting, complicated, emotional, fun, hilarious, beautiful, clever, witty, neurotic. But you don’t have to be angst-filled. That’s a choice.

Choose to simply be who you are. Either you’re a good fit in the eyes of the director for this production, or you’re not. It’s okay. It may not be the right show at the right time.

Or it just might be. Be yourself. Love yourself. Audition–share yourself.

And rock it out. Have fun!


Celebrate Mothers’ Day at Steel Magnolias in Chelsea!

Dear Friends,

Happy Mothers’ Day!

As a mother, and an actor/director, Steel Magnolias was the perfect choice for this weekend. I’ve been the Drama Director at Chelsea High School for two years, and it is with pride that we bring back the Spring play for the second consecutive year.

This year, I’ve chosen Steel Magnolias to showcase the talents of these brilliant Chelsea actors, and to celebrate mothers and daughters with all of you.

This play means a lot to me personally. I played Shelby a decade ago in Jackson. I’ve carried the love of that production and those life-long friendships that were equally authentic onstage as well as offstage. Now it’s time to pay it forward. These Chelsea actors have embraced the love, poured their hearts into the show, and deliver a powerful, moving performance that you will remember forever.

Make this the most memorable Mothers’ Day yet. Join us this weekend for a show that will have you laughing, crying, and cheering with these remarkable women.


By:  Robert Harling

Presented by:  Chelsea High School Theater Guild

Directed by: Carrie Jay Sayer

Performance dates and times:

Friday May 9th 7:00pm

Saturday May 10th 7:00pm

Sunday May 11th 3:00pm

All performances with be held at the Washington Street Education Center’s George Prinzing Auditorium, 500 E. Washington St., Chelsea, MI 48118

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors and are available at Chelsea Pharmacy, 1125 S. Main St., or at the door.

We can’t wait to share this adventure with you!



This Time I Need YOUR Help. My Husband Has Cancer.

Silent Auction and Movie The Blind Side Benefit to Help Ben Sayer Regain Health and Be Cancer-Free


Croswell Opera House

129 E. Maumee St.

Adrian, MI 49221


Sunday, November 24, 2013

1:30 – 5 p.m.


My husband has cancer. Our beloved, compassionate, generous husband, father and son, needs our help. Ben discovered blood in his urine in August. Tests were done in September, surgery performed October 1, and on October 8 Ben was diagnosed with bladder cancer.


Ben has always put family first. He works from home so our young family can be together as much as possible. I am a self-employed drama coach for high school students. We have a modest income that covers usual expenses.


But these enormous hospital bills are staggering, and we cannot bear the weight alone. Our health insurance coverage begins January 1, 2014, like millions of other Americans under the Affordable Care Act. Treatment cannot be delayed. It could mean the difference between life and death.


Please help us save Ben’s life. Attend this fundraising event. Share this announcement. Let come together as a community. Together we can create a miracle.


If you are unable to attend this event, please consider contributing directly to Ben’s care: www.youcaring.com/bensayer


With deep love and gratitude,

Carrie, Ben, Logan and Paige Sayer

7570 2nd Street

Dexter, MI 48130


Some featured items included in the Silent Auction:

  • autographed U-M football helmet

  • Lia Sophia gift basket

  • backstage pass to Mojo in the Morning on radio 95.5

  • original jewelry and art

  • private lesson from professional pool player

  • and much more!

Don’t Just Follow Your Dreams. Make Them Real. Now.

Dear Friends,

Wow. Make today the day you start doing what you love.

Take action. Today. Do ONE thing that moves you toward realizing your dream.

Read a play. Choose a monologue. Schedule headshots. Sing. Exercise. Sign up for a dance class. Design a dress. Take a risk.

Call someone. Make an appointment. Look up resources online.

Find your WHOS. Connect with people who are doing what you want to be doing. Find out their story  of what they did to make their dreams come alive.

We found out this week my husband, Ben, has cancer.

It is staggering news. You’ve probably heard it before, but a crisis brings everything into perspective. Priorities become really clear.

Life may be short. It may be long. We don’t know.

What we do know, is there is no time like the present to start living life to its fullest.

Take a chance. You’re worth it. I’m sending my love and encouragement to you. Bring joy to the world by living your passion. Today.


Post-show Malaise: Putting the Fun in Funk

Ah. Another show done. I’ve directed six shows in the past year:

Captivating Rhythms
How to Succeed…
Black Comedy

And a couple of staged readings.

I’m sad and I miss it when it’s over.

This week I’m recovering from the closing of Big, the Musical. I directed this wonderful, heartfelt, endearing, and rock-it-out musical with Dexter Community Players, at the Dexter Center for Performing Arts. It was BIG. It was funny. It was fresh, and fun, and a joy to create.

Can you relate to any parts of my post-show cyclothymia? I rise and fall, like the super-fun human roller coaster we created in Big for the carnival scene, up and down, between malaise and joy, exhaustion and energy, grief and relief.

By the way, being sad about a show being over is not exactly romantic, epitomized by a single, perfect glycerin tear on one’s cheek, smiling nostalgically at dressing room pix on Facebook. It’s more like vacillating between grouchy, happy, silly, elated, bawling, sleepwalking, skipping showers, squirt gun wars in the yard, cooking pots of chili, looking forward to getting to bed–upon rising, and holding your family close to fill your love cup and refill theirs every waking (and sleeping) moment. All in one day. Sometimes, in one hour.

On the one hand, I miss the stuffings out of every cast member and wonderful person who worked to help create Big.

On the other hand, I am sooooo enjoying being with my family. And chilling. And staying in pj’s all day.

Things that help:

  • date nights with Ben
  • playing chase and pillow fights with Logan and Paige
  • singing songs from Big, especially with Logan and Paige, kind of all day long
  • keeping caught up with dishes (it’s meditative, and I hum the songs from Big)
  • daydreaming about my next project(s)
  • announcing Guys and Dolls as the Fall show I am directing (catch us at Chelsea High, November 15-17)
  • word and number puzzles
  • watching movies
  • skipping Jazzercise
  • teaching private students
  • visiting everyone on Facebook
  • planning a DVD party to watch the show with the cast, crew, team and Big families
  • catching up on Glee, although I still am having trouble wrapping my mind around Cory Monteith’s death
  • scheduling lunch with friends
  • talking on the phone to my mom for more than five minutes at a time
  • getting ready for our trip to RE (Rethinking Everything Conference — we are presenting for the first time!)

Things that don’t help very much:

  • feeling like I ought to be productive every minute (Wow, directing takes–and gives!–an incredible amount of energy. It’s challenging to dial back to a lower idle.)
  • trying to clean and organize the whole house ASAP (um, it took weeks and months to get to this state; it’s going to take a while to restore it to sanity)
  • getting ready for a garage sale (yeah, that’s a whole production unto itself…maybe I’ll shelf that ’til September)

I cried, pretty hard, last Sunday, at our last show of Big. My beautiful red roses are drooping and drying. The signed picture from the cast is hanging prominently on my frig. My show t-shirt is in the wash, because I wore it for several days in a row upon receiving it. I wish I had an audio recording of our cast, to hear everyone’s beautiful voices on all of the songs, over and over.

I wouldn’t trade the sadness for anything, though. Because  it’s a by-product of having loved wholly and openly and shared my entire self in creating something really special, really memorable, really (forgive me) BIG. Just like everyone who helped create BIG. We all shared ourselves, took risks, committed one hundred percent, and are more connected, more whole, more filled with joyful memories, than before. We’ve changed since three months ago, when we embarked on this journey to create a really cool show together. We’ve discovered ourselves, each other, how to play HARD, and live and love and laugh a little (maybe a lot) better, a little (again, maybe a lot) more freely.

I can’t wait to do it again. xoxoxoxoxo

In the meantime, I’m breathing, relaxing, remembering, playing, reading, writing, kissing, singing, and being.

How about you?

Awesome Audition Workshop!

Auditions for Fall shows are ramping up!

Be prepared! Be confident! Nail your audition!

Join Carrie Jay Sayer for a unique, valuable, and incredibly fun three-hour audition workshop! Get ready to rock your next big audition!

We will practice cold readings, improv skills, and vocal and physical presence. Learn to make strong choices, self-direct, and try new ideas with confidence!

Count on adding a number of valuable tools to your Actor Tool Box. Just in time to bring to your next audition and role!

You are welcome to bring audition material you are working on, plus there will be a ton of scripts and scenes for us to play with. Dress in dance or exercise clothes, bring water to drink, and a notebook and pencil. Be ready to connect, play hard, work hard, and leave with a fresh set of skills!

Sunday, August 11, 2013
4-7 p.m.

Carrie Jay Studio
7570 2nd Street
Dexter, MI 48130

Only $47!

Register today! Class size is limited to 12 actors, so each person receives plenty of attention and guidance. Do it before registration closes on Thursday, August 8 at midnight. Don’t miss out on this chance to hone your skills and rock your next audition!

Auditioning: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Go, go, go.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel, right?

Every audition is a performance opportunity.

We know the advice: “You gotta put yourself out there.” “If at first you don’t succeed….” “Keep on keepin’ on.” We’ve heard this stuff so many times, it’s become cliche.

So why is it so dang hard to put ourselves out there time after time?

Well, I had an epiphany this year. I was at my own general audition at the Purple Rose. For those who don’t know, general auditions are held annually by professional theatres, in order to be considered for the following season’s shows. Typically you’re asked to bring one or two monologues, and sometimes 16 bars of a song if the theatre will be producing a musical.

So, in my prep for Purple Rose, I chose my monologue (always comedic for them). For weeks I muttered it in the car, the shower, washing dishes. The day of the audition, I stretched. I sang. I used my studio as my own giant private dressing room (fun). Between the day I signed up and the day I auditioned, I asked myself more than once: “Should I stay or should I go?”

Argh. What is the big deal? You just GO, I told myself. “Quit pushing me around,” I retorted. Yet, I knew the “just go” voice was aligned with my purpose for existence: to inspire others to do and be their best. How can I ask others to put themselves out there, if I don’t do the same? I am just as human and afraid and vulnerable. So, I went to inspire others to face their fears and have courage and take risks and embrace the possibility of success and heck, even redefine success as just showing up.

So I showed up. Gladly. Willingly. Excitedly. Because once I gave myself permission to cancel, I knew deep in my bones, in my heart, in my gut: I want to be here more than anything or anywhere in the world.

In the lobby, I stretched, lightly chatted with old friends, jumped some jacks, sat, breathed, muttered, breathed some more, and chilled. I was greeted by a couple of Purple Rose friends who knew some of my students had come in (I AM SO PROUD OF YOU GUYS!). I felt proud of my students, and of myself, and of all of the people who showed up. 

A firefighter friend of mine who is also a strong actor, asked on Facebook that day, why can he face burning buildings every day without flinching, but quake for a full minute while delivering his monologue for Guy? I hear ya, Friend.

But this year it was different for me. This year, I was Zen. This year, I felt joyful, present, excited, calm, glad, proud, brave, and strong. And Funny. After my brief interview with Guy (why’s it so dang hard to talk about yourself, right?), I gave myself a brand new, fully realized moment before. I looked around the room, at Guy, at the other auditors (resident artists at the Rose), at the seats, at the stage, and I thought, this is exactly where I want to be right now. I love it right here, on this stage, performing for people who care, for people who want me to succeed, for people who taught me to breathe and love and play. I want to perform on the Purple Rose stage, and here I am. Right now. 

I looked at a ceiling light, pictured my invisible scene partner, and started my monologue. I begged. I implored. I fought. I cajoled. I reasoned. I relaxed. I breathed. And I had so much fun.

I was connected with my audience of four. I breathed when they laughed. I relished my moments onstage at Purple Rose. I nailed it.

I learned something that day. About myself, and about inspiring you to be your best. By all means, go. But don’t just go because I told you to, or because you pushed yourself to do it, or because you read some great advice in an auditioning book. Go because you love it. Go because there is no place else you’d rather be. Go because you can’t not go. You have to do this because you are fully alive when you do.

So, perform for your one glorious minute on the stage you want to be on. If you don’t go, you’ll never get on that stage. If you do go, you’ll have lived and loved one memorable minute doing exactly what you love.

And chances are very good, that if you keep going, keep showing up, you’re gonna get a lot more minutes and hours and days and weeks right where you want them: onstage, bearing your soul for all. And enjoying every second of it.

Shhh…Directors Are Vulnerable, Too

Shhh…it’s a secret. Directors are vulnerable, too.

At first glance, it may look like we have all the power. After all, we are sitting on the other side of the table. It appears we are judging actors. We may seem imposing, professional yet reserved, sitting back in the dark deciding who is good enough to be in our next play.

In rehearsals, directors take notes and tell actors what to do, right? We have all the answers. Actors are merely pawns we control to fulfill our brilliant, predetermined vision. We are there to criticize, demand, cajole, and make the actors do it right. Right?

SCREEEECH of brakes.

Nope. Wrong.

Enter: reality

Directors are equally vulnerable. When I direct, I participate in warm-up games, wear my hair down and wild, go barefoot, and play hard with the actors.

I, too, need to be in a creative, open, authentic space in order to create art with actors and designers. The result is something cool, new, fresh, inviting.

And I do it by feel.

Creating art is not strictly rational. Sure, there are certain specific aspects…stand on that box, turn on a dime, grab his shirt, etc. The overall nuance, however, is that I know when it feels good. I know when it clicks. I know when I resonate with what is happening in rehearsal.

And I know these things by being open. Present. Connected.

Guy Sanville, Artistic Director at the Purple Rose Theatre Co. in Chelsea, defines “talent” as the ability to express oneself in abstract form. Directing, for me, takes on the challenge and joy of expressing myself via the shows I direct. My raw material is actors, the script, the setting. The thing is, actors are not clay. They are living, breathing, feeling human beings. And there is my joy: collecting, harnessing, encouraging, synergizing the voices, hearts, bodies, authentic selves into a unique creation.

As a director, I share the experience with the actors of allowing my heart and soul and self to be revealed. It is joy to be known. It is a gift to deeply connect, openly share and creatively join with actors and designers to successfully express ourselves together in abstract form.

This weekend, I invited the Godspell cast and band members to write a note to each other sharing something they love about the other person. I was touched that some included me in the game. Here are a couple of particularly memorable, loving remarks I received:

“Your crazy ideas always seem to work!”

“You have inspired me to direct some day.”

“I have learned so much from you not just as an actor and singer, but as a person.”

Okay, wow. Thank you for allowing me to continue to fulfill my life’s purpose: to inspire others to do and be their best. Because I am at my best when you are at your best.

Ain’t that a delicious recipe for a success. And not just onstage; in Life. We all win. Together.

Come see Godspell at Jackson Lumen Christi Catholic High School this week:

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

March 21, 22, 23

7 p.m. curtain

Why Opposites Attract

Dear Friends,

Opposites attract. What’s up with that?

What’s down with that?

Everything that is true in a scene, the opposite is also true. In Black Comedy, the play I am directing at Chelsea High School for MIFA One Act competition, the stern colonel is blustery, loud, and intimidating. He is also shy, timid and terrified of losing his daughter to a lunatic.

We could play the colonel as a stereotypical despot. Or we could explore his softer side and understand where he’s coming from. What motivates his intimidating manner? He’s scared. Is he a bully? Yes. Is he a pussycat? Yes. We embrace both sides.

How do we make these discoveries in rehearsal? Try doing the exact opposite of the obvious. The actor had been shouting every line. I asked him to whisper every line. We were all dying on the floor laughing. The colonel is both men.

I ask actors to stop thinking, be present, and see what happens. This week we embodied animals as part of character exploration. “Be the animal that is most like you!” We had cats, dogs, birds, fish and a human. Then, “Be the animal that is least like you!” We had snakes, dogs, a flamingo and a peacock.

Here’s the secret I learned doing this exercise as a student myself in a recent Purple Rose class: both animals are you.

What happens when we embrace what we believe is pretty much ourselves, as well as what we think is the direct opposite of who we are? Well, then we have dimension. Then we are capable of anything. Then we are free to explore, accept and know ourselves and each other more deeply.

What happens when we open ourselves to opposites in the creation of a play? It’s the actors’ job to explore and expose our personal and shared strengths and vulnerabilities. Opposites attract us to un-mined depths of ourselves and each other. Opposites lead us to fresh connections. Opposites reveal unexpected discoveries about our own very human nature. What happens when we explore opposites?

The result is a delicious blend of unpredictable, hilarious behavior.

Come and see the Black Comedy  to experience what I’m talking about! Friday, February 1 at 7 p.m. at CHS. One public performance only! $5 at the door, general admission. Be sure to catch this one! You may leave looking at the world and each other and even yourself slightly differently.

The Cover is Off the Pit

Dear Friends,

Hello! We are in the midst of an exciting process of working and playing to put together How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Our show opens in under two weeks.

There is always a point about two weeks prior to opening night that my heart seizes up. In that moment, I have no idea how it’s all going to come together. There is too much to do. There are too many details. Too many elements to pull together.

One of my mentors referred to the “crushing responsibility” a director experiences in preparing a show. Directing requires constant vigilance to detail and an indefatigable commitment to leadership and inspiration. Add producing responsibilities, and it requires a good deal of Zen breathing to be able to wind down and sleep at night.

My heart-seizing-up moment passed fairly quickly this time. It lasted for only a few days. I felt pressured and fought the urge to hurry myself and the cast. It took a great round of tape ball at the beginning of each rehearsal for me to chill, and pass the vibe to the cast.

I realized about a week ago that I was kind of ahead one week of where I thought I was. Bonus! An “extra” week. I pushed us (gently and lovingly) to reach early goals, such as singing with the orchestra weeks ahead of time. (Usually the cast sings with the pit only right before dress.) I wanted the songs to be looping in everyone’s heads for a couple of months (like they are in mine). Our props mistress is a genius who’s gotten props into our hands at least a month earlier than what’s common.

I have been committed from the outset for everyone to get to know each other better. Grade in school is irrelevant. Age is irrelevant. Experience, believe it or not, is irrelevant. The only moment that matters is this one. Right now. I’ve encouraged each cast member to lower their guard, to make themselves vulnerable, to allow each other to truly know and see them. To allow their authentic selves to shine through.

I allow myself to be vulnerable in the process. I have to be. I choose to lead by example. I ask my cast only to do what I am willing to do myself. I ask others to put as much of themselves into the process as I am willing to. And that happens to be my whole self.

My work is play. I am fueled by joy and passion and love.

The cast is brave, fun, lovable, kind, supportive and passionate. They share themselves freely. They push themselves beyond their comfort levels and take risks, because they trust each other, me, and the process.

We are not about make believe.  We are not about pretending. We are here for each other in the immediacy that live theatre uniquely provides.

Come see our live show. It’s full of life. So are we. And so are you. Come and share your self with us.

In just two weeks.

P.S. Read here about our Gilbert and Sullivan style getting-ready song, “The Cover Is Off The Pit,” we sing every day onstage.