Hello dear friends! ‘Tis the season for auditioning… So, are you bringing your ‘A’ game? Auditioning is a skill. It’s a learned practice that gets better with time, and something we can constantly be studying and improving on. Don’t enter the room feeling unsafe, uncomfortable and under-prepared! The following are my preferred tips and tricks for nailing an audition:
1. Read all of the material you are given. Yes, your sides, of course- but also, the character breakdown, the full script (if they provide it to you), including also the sides and breakdowns of all other characters. This can give you an idea of the overall feeling of the production. Snippets of your character are sometimes present in the material belonging to another character; This will help you get to know your ‘person’ and build your back story! More on that later.
2. Learn your lines. No, really. Anthony Hopkins has famously claimed on more than one occasion that his great acting talent is all chalked up to one skill: knowing his lines.
‘I learn the text cold, read it maybe 100 or 200 times. ‘
Learning your lines ‘cold’ is a method that is underdiscussed but highly effective. It means learning your lines backwards and forwards without interjecting your character’s personality too early. When you know your lines in this way, you’ll find it easier to take direction from a casting director. You’ll show up moldable, and ready to stop on a dime and change direction if asked. Read your lines again, again and again. Here are my favorite methods for learning my lines fast:
- Rehearsal 2 (the app). This app blows the others out of the water, and I’ve previously mentioned it on my must-have list of top apps for all actors. You can upload scripts and record your own lines or your readers lines and play it over and over as many times as you like. There’s a one time fee to buy this program ($19.99) but it’s worth it!
- Flash cards. Seriously. Using these in tandem with the Rehearsal 2 app really speeds things up! Each section of dialogue should be on a separate card, to complete an entire thought. You read your card start to finish, and then wait for the person opposite you to read their lines before getting your second card in line and so on and so forth.
- Simple repetition. Once you have the lines mostly memorized, repetition is key. Try to know your lines without hesitation. The faster the better. You can begin to create distractions for yourself to make sure you know them down pat (in the shower, while cooking dinner, etc.) Make sure that no matter what you’re doing, you can remember those lines. Now you’re ready for the fun part!
3. Get to know your character. They may seem foreign at first, but if you trust the process and go with your natural instinct you will be very surprised at what you’ll figure out about who this person is! Take some time to sit down quietly with a notebook, and just begin to write down thoughts that come to mind. Try to write as much as possible. Some of it will be gibberish, but towards the end you’ll find authentic thoughts and feelings and begin to create a backstory. You should be thinking about who your character is; how they were raised and where they lived growing up, who their friends were and what their parents were like, what kind of life experiences they have had and what makes them who they are in general. Knowing this information lets your lines come from an authentic place. As an added bonus, if you are asked by a casting director on the spot to improv some dialogue with your acting partner, you won’t be thrown off quite as easily by not knowing what to say. You’ll know enough about this person to be ready to engage!
4. Become the character. Now that you know who you’re playing, you’re ready to toss around some concepts! It’s back to the drawing board with your lines! How would he/she say it? What is the emotion behind the words, or the way their personality shines through? If you’re being extra daring, you might find your character has a slight lisp or dry wit delivery- and maybe those things would not have been there if you hadn’t gotten to know each other a bit.
- Try on some different clothing that better suggests your character. See how each outfit makes you feel and how it changes your expression of him/her. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Low cut tops with high heels bring out a different impression then a baseball cap and baggie jeans. The wrong outfit has the possibility of putting you in the wrong frame of mind for your character. Not sure? Get the help of a spouse, friend or fellow actor. Change into the outfits under consideration, and get their thoughts as to the feeling they think is being portrayed with each. This is also a great time to request assistance from an acting class or group! They will love to be involved and to support you!
5. Show up, and do your thang! Just be yourself. A personal mantra comes in handy here; mine is to remind myself that I am enough, just as I am. You’re here in the room, they wanted to see you- that’s big! Remind yourself how far you’ve come, that not every role can or will be yours but that when it’s right it’s right. Be pleasant and respectful, show up on time but not too early, and keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Always have your two hard copy head shots and resumes on hand. Turn your phone off and put it away. Be present, go in there confidently and show them what you’re made of!
Now, forget about it. It’s over and done. Make a couple quick notes in your phone detailing what you wore, store it away and forget the entire day. That audition is in your past. No use crying over it if something went wrong, no use spending precious time wondering if you got it.
For actors, auditions will always come. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from; You will always have another opportunity to audition, and that’s what I love about this industry. Don’t give up! There is something for everyone who really wants it!
Go for your dreams! Always, always be
f e a r l e s s!