Our last article focused on Preparation of Material and Preparation of Self for an audition. Did you notice that the “Self” section was twice as long as the “Material”? Do you remember that “Presence and Poise” will win you more roles than talent alone? Review the article on preparation. Then head for…
To separate Presentation of MATERIAL from Presentation of SELF would require major surgery. So let’s treat them as one subject, not two.
Your preparation of material (monologue / sides) is done: Your acting choices imaginative, daring, exciting. The delivery appropriate to the medium (film, TV, stage). The research on the company, the director, the material, etc., is thorough. You have written down and examined your weaknesses. You have rehearsed entering the audition room. You’ve dressed appropriately. No leather skin-fitting pants or ripped dirty jeans. No Playboy bunny outfit if the season is Coward, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Inge.
You’ve neither drowned in perfume / shaving lotion nor, tumbled out of bed, skipping shower, razor, toothbrush and comb. No grunge. (These descriptions are not mine. They have come from people behind the casting table which you are now approaching.) Now what?
Before you open the door to the audition room, take half a second and unite every part of you. Gather your confidence, charm, smile, energy, your love of performance, your self-introduction, your audition material, wrap yourself in a gauze of generosity and humanity and then walk in feeling you are the best they will see. (Actually, you should have been doing all this the entire time you were waiting to go in.)
Think of this as a performance, not an audition.You have just entered to take down stage center or the camera is rolling. Remember a great part of their impression is formed as you walk in—before you open your mouth and long before you present your material. Step into the audition arena armed with all your preparation. Every thought, every action, everything you are and have been—all these walk in with you.
Be proud of having reached this moment in your life. Performing, to me, is the most exciting thing I can or ever will do. If you too feel that elation, take it with you. Walk in with joy. With pride. If you feel it, so will they. If you don’t feel it, cultivate it. If this sounds un-cool, so be it. IT WORKS.
The people behind an audition table may seem like blocks of ice. Nevertheless even the toughest casting person responds subliminally to your presence. It may not seem so, but you, the actor, not the audition committee, greatly sets the tone for an audition. If life has just dumped on you, leave that pile outside the audition door. It will wait for you. But during those few minutes you audition, you are a star—unique, imaginative, fascinating as a person and a performer.
Just in passing: If you are reading sides for your audition, chances are there will be another reader or another person who is auditioning a scene with you. If the reader is marvelous, ah, an actor’s dream. But a reader can be deadly, boring, dull, unimaginative. Do NOT let that change your choices. You don’t have enough time to raise your “partner” to your level (if that were possible).
Yes, I know this defies all scene study classes, but this audition is about you, not your reader. Be exactly what you prepared unless the reader is so imaginative and giving that s/he opens up possible responses that you had not even thought about. Again, be in control (PS: Whether you loved them or loathed them, remember to thank your reader or your musical accompanist. You can even just mouth a silent “thank you.” First, it is professional courtesy. Second, the auditioning table will notice. Professional courtesy is always a win-win situation.)