As a budding actor, auditions can be very nerve wracking and even downright scary or terrifying. It’s okay to be nervous. Being stressed and fearful is natural and it’s bound to happen to you. A little (or a lot) of apprehension is perfectly acceptable. But what is absolutely unacceptable is for you to be ill prepared for your audition. Take control of your audition with these helpful tips to improve your skills.
Do Your Homework!
- Do your best to read the script. Even if you only have 30 minutes you can at least get a quick impression of the tone and setting of the piece. Don’t be the person who goes to an audition and asks, “Is this a comedy?” What that says is, “I haven’t given this much thought”.
- Know the character(s). Look for as much information about the character or characters you are most interested in. These is often so much information about the character even in a two-page scene. What he/she says about himself/herself? What other characters say about him/her? What the playwright or screenwriter says about him/her? Relax. Don’t over think. Just gather information. Open yourself up and pick up on clues. Then use what you discovered to make it yours.
- Find the Objective. Go underneath the dialogue. What does he/she want from the other characters? What is the character’s purpose in the scene/story?
- Find the Obstacle. What’s in the way of the character getting what he/she wants? Acting is what happens to you as you TRY to get your objective met, in spite of the obstacle.
- Look for Opposites Opportunities.Yelling isn’t the only way to show hatred or anger. Sometimes being quiet as you make your point is a powerful display of emotion. Playing opposites is a much more interesting choice than the obvious.
- Find the “Love” in the Scene. Even nasty characters should be likable on some level. Find a moment in the scene where the love can show through.
- Check the pronunciation of words ahead of time.
- Be Comfortable with the script. For a “cold read” audition, you don’t need to be “off book” (have it totally memorized), just be comfortable and familiar with the words so you’re not searching for them and you can be present and responsive.
- If there is a time limit for your audition or a measure limit for your song, time yourself. Be sure you adhere to the stipulation.
- Choose material wisely. If auditioning for a musical, choose a song that is not from the musical you are auditioning for, unless specifically requested. Instead, select a song in the style of the show for which you are auditioning.
- Be Your Own Character. Avoid imitating actors/singers who have played this role before. Be honest yet original.
- PRACTICE! Practice for friends, family, and on your own. Practice your introduction AND your audition material. Use your voice and your body – these are your tools as an actor. -Vocality and Physically. If the audition consists of cold reading it out loud. If not, practice reading texts in the style of the play.
The Big Day – Auditions or Callbacks
- Practice the 3 Cs. Be Comfortable, Charismatic and Confident. An actor needs to command attention. It sounds simple but it takes practice. Walk in the door with your held head high. Be wary of shuffling feet. You don’t get sympathy points if you’re nervous, not feeling well, or having a bad day. Leave it outside the door. Be someone you want to get to know. You are being sized up the minute you walk in, so practice good posture and body language before you arrive. And don’t forget to smile – that’s the lasting impression you want to leave. Let your personality shine through. Don’t give one-word answers when having a conversation with the director. Ask questions! We are looking for smart, curious actors.
- Take Ownership. Avoid excuses. No one wants to hear about your cold, or that you have bed-head, or that your printer broke. Don’t pretend you are memorized when you are not. We would rather you shared the words on the page then to hear you stumble around. Make the best of the situation. That is what theater is all about!
- Make Connections. Look up. Make eye contact. Connect with fellow actors.
- Acting means TO DO, not to talk. Find your actions, your gestures, and play them.
- Use Variety. Feel the levels and dynamics in the scene. Stay away from one emotion. If the character is angry or tough, look for how they show vulnerability.
- Take Direction. If the director asks you to make a choice, make one. For example, if the director asks you to pick between two monologues, or asks, “which one would you like to do?”, they are looking to learn what YOU are attracted to. They want to see you make a bold choice. Don’t say, “It doesn’t matter, what do you want? Actors need to make strong clear choices when developing characters. Directors want to see that side of you in everything you do.
- Make your first 15 seconds count.
- Don’t Start OVER. Mess up? Fight through it. Most likely it wasn’t as bad as you thought.
- Bring ALL needed materials. If you are singing for the audition, bring clearly marked sheet music; bring a CD of devise to play accompaniment. Wear clothing that is flattering and comfortable… NOT a costume. Wear clothing that allows movement… including shoes.
- Speak loudly and clearly. Start at the beginning – your introduction! Start STRONG!
- Focus! Every audition is an opportunity to perform for an audience. Stay in character. Don’t laugh at yourself. Make your performance honest and believable.
- Listen! Listen to the script. Listen to the other actors. Act and react naturally.
- You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be prepared. HAVE FUN!
- FINISH! Keep it simple. Say thank you and leave. Do keep a record of who you read for and the projects they have you in for – it’ll help you next time you’re in for them. But don’t waste a lot of time wondering when you’ll hear, why you didn’t get it. Again, that’s not in your control. You need to focus on your next audition. Master your craft! Empower yourself! Enjoy the journey…
Remember, we want you to be great. We’re pulling for you more than you can ever imagine.
Because a great audition, means a great cast, which means we’re one step closer to a great show.
(The above is a handout I wrote this morning for the Production Class I help with at the local high school. Eventually, it will be a part of a textbook I am creating for them. This blog post is dedicated to the students that inspire me and help me to be a better teacher.)