I recently had someone reach out to me, saying that they enjoyed the blog (thank you!) and that they would like to hear more about what I have learned in regards to acting and the theater industry as a whole. I am still a student, learning new and useful things on the daily about my craft. Subsequently, I in no way consider myself an authority figure on the subject. Still, I have picked up a few tips through my own experiences and more so from my insightful professors- I see no reason why I shouldn’t share some of that here. So today I figured I’d talk about auditions.
Auditions are a nerve-wracking and exciting part of being an actor. They embody opportunity, and just like any venture that offers opportunity, they require hard work and mental fortitude. I’ve had successful auditions as well as auditions that I’m not so proud of but the fact remains- the more you do it the better you get. Auditioning is a practiced skill, a muscle to be worked. I’ve picked up a few tips that have helped me in this proverbial ‘workout’ and I hope they can be of use to you: you’re the answer to their problem, they want to see you, the importance preparation on all fronts, and it’s a lot like giving a birthday present.
You’re The Answer To Their Problem
It is easy to walk into an audition room and feel at odds with the people at the other end of the table. Why wouldn’t you feel that way? They’re sitting there in opposition to you, staring you down. They hold the key to your success in that moment and their job is to to judge you, right? Not quite. Yes, you may really want that role and yes, they decide whether or not you are cast. That in no way means that they are against you or are there to judge you- even though that might be a sound, albeit, guttural response to that line of thinking. In actuality, you are the potential answer to their problem. They need you just as much as you need them. My freshman year, Judith Ivey came to speak at Pace. She had plethora of valuable insights to give on the industry but one in-particular stuck with me above the others- the people behind the table aren’t against you. They’re begging you to succeed. It may seem counter-intuitive but you are the potential answer to their problem. The problem? A role to fill. The people behind the table more often than not want you to walk in and do a fantastic job because that means their problem is solved and they can go grab a coffee, smiling that they found the perfect actor to play Juliet in their Shakespeare festival. In this way, they are rooting for you. Keeping this in mind whenever you go into an audition is very liberating. It frees you up to give the gift of your audition.
They Want To See You
When you walk into an audition, they want to see you. This is a paramount aspect of the audition for a few reasons. When the people behind the table are watching you, they’re trying to gauge a few things: Will this person work well with the rest of the team? Does their personality and style fit the vision for our project? Or if it is a college audition: Will they fit well with the rest of the program? Will our teaching style be effective and resonant with this individual? That is why being genuine and honest in auditions is of the utmost importance. That manifests in a few ways: the piece you choose, your resume, and your behavior prior to and following your piece. In regards to the piece you choose, be it a song or a monologue- you want to make sure that it accurately reflects your type and range. If you’re a twenty year old male, it may suit you better to bring in that Romeo piece you’ve worked on instead of Vanya. Of course, that can shift around a bit based on your looks. More so, unless an audition is requesting a specific accent or choice, just stick with your normal speaking voice. In collegiate auditions specifically, they want to see a piece that reflects you as an actor and the versatility you offer- not an accent. If you have an accent you are proficient in put it on your resume. This brings me to my second point, and I cannot stress this enough, BE HONEST on your resume. If you list something on your special skills you better be prepared to do it. Don’t write roles down that you haven’t done either- artistic communities are small and tight knit so more often than not whoever is at the audition will see right through the white lie you slapped on the bottom of your paper. Showing your genuine self is also important before and after your piece. Be respectful, of course, but be yourself. Cut the false bravado- it’s not a good look.
Prepare Til Your Fingers Bleed
Preparation for auditions is a crucial cornerstone of succeeding. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel and the more likely it will be that you’re piece will go well. Additionally, it gives you more room to be flexible during an audition which is important (it’s a fine line though, you don’t want to over-rehearse your piece lest you become too rigid). It goes without saying that you should rehearse your audition piece diligently but preparation extends beyond that. You need to have more material at your disposal than the audition initially calls for. If they ask for two contrasting monologues- bring at least three. You don’t want to be an archer facing down the dragon, realizing that you are one arrow short of victory. I remember a very important audition I had that really embodies the necessity of preparation. It was one of my college auditions, actually. The school had requested that I bring in two contemporary, contrasting monologues. I did the prep work, made my choices, and was feeling confident. I remember walking in- riddled with those exciting butterflies that you get prior to any audition- and slating. I introduced myself and the piece I was doing but before I could begin, one of the people behind the table stopped me. They said, “Actually- I don’t think that piece serves actors very well. Could you do your second monologue instead?” I was a bit jarred but, hey, they asked me to bring two. By the time I had finished my second (now first) monologue, my nerves had dissipated… until they asked to see something else. My mind raced- they had only asked for two monologues and as such I only had two at my disposal. I smiled and said, “Sure!” but on the inside I was frantically spelunking through the depths of my memory to find a saving grace- I did find it, in the form of a monologue I had done a year or so prior that was still lurking around my subconscious. It was a lucky break. The monologue went well and I was accepted into the program but it would have saved me a lot of stress in the moment had I over-prepared, a lesson that I firmly take to heart these days.
Your Audition is a Nicely Wrapped Gift
To close, I think viewing your audition as a gift to give is a positive mindset to have. One of my professors described auditions as birthday gifts. Your audition- be it a song or a monologue or a cold read- is something that you are uniquely bringing into the room and offering up. It is your gift to give, nicely wrapped with a bow on top. The people behind the table might not need the gift you’re giving them, they might already have it, but it is your gift to give. The fact of the matter is- you won’t get every audition. It isn’t personal. Sometimes they don’t need your specific type or they have someone else who just fits the bill a little bit more. That’s okay. Just hop back on the saddle and rally for the next one. It can be a game of chance like that. Just remember that what you are offering is unique to you and while it might not always land you the role, you should be proud to give it.
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