What Makes a Fabulous acting Audition? Part 1

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“Great, wonderful, fabulous, exactly what we’re looking for. We open next month. Are you available?” Sound familiar?

A reader wrote, “They raved after my audition so much I thought I had the job. Then I never heard from them again. What happened?”

“What happened?” summarizes the entire audition experience. But rather than begin with that question, let’s first see what work lies behind a great, wonderful, fabulous audition. You can’t always control the casting people but you can always control your own journey to an A+ audition. At the end of exploring auditions, we’ll return to that wise but heartbreaking question, “What happened?”

Let’s assume you’ve had excellent acting classes and maybe even some professional experience. So your acting ability is honed and ready. But I emphasize that what follows is for both newcomers and old-timers to the audition world.

Auditioning is a technique that can and must be learned–unless you were born knowing how to walk in and take over an audition room. A fabulous audition begins with preparation of material and preparation of self and culminates in presentation of material and presentation of self, plus a graceful exit. Preparation / Presentation / Plus. Simple? Hardly!

PREPARATION OF MATERIAL (For both a monologue or sides)

Hamlet AuditionPreparation is grub homework research and includes hitting the Internet to learn about the production company, the director, the writer, reviews of the work you are auditioning for (if available) and reading the entire script if it’s available. If possible, place the setting historically. For example, if the setting is the 1950s then research the 50s. These searches are essential, even for an old familiar monologue. (Redo your research although you may have done the monologue 20 times.)

Learn as much as you can about the people holding the audition. If it’s an open call, research the company’s season and see what roles you’re right for. Fit your monologue to their season.

One of my students researched a theatre company she was auditioning for, discovered a picture of their artistic director on their website and at the audition, as the actor approached the audition table she said (charmingly), “You are ABC, the artistic director. I saw your picture on the website.” That comment opened a conversation. It also demonstrated the actor’s interest, imagination, and ingenuity. Just knowing your monologue or lines does not give you the needed edge. RESEARCH does.

About memorizing. Know your monologue so well that your tongue can go on automatic pilot even if your brain crashes. I remember once auditioning with a Shakespeare monologue I had used several years, taken from a play I had performed several times. I had coached the role and the monologue both in New York and in London. I KNEW IT. IT WAS MINE! At this particular audition I get to the final two lines (a couplet) and poof–they evaporated. Memory glitch. Tongue dies. Brain heads for Jupiter, maybe Pluto. Embarrassment. Total flop. Graceless exit. A scullery maid, not a duchess. Humiliation. No, I did not get the role. “What! She can’t even remember a couplet!!” How to avoid that situation? For a couple of days before each monologue audition, review it as if it were new. Preparation of material! A lesson learned the hard way!

However, if you have sides, do not try to memorize your sides unless it is a very short scene, where you only have a dozen words. You want your entire focus on your acting, not on trying to remember the lines or getting flustered because you dropped a phrase. Instead of memorizing the sides, work on the sides.

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