Auditions For Actors
A Chance To Perform
The Only Thing You Have To Fear Is Fear Itself
Exactly what is an audition?
For the “Auditor” (person or persons conducting the audition) an audition is a “test” or “trial” set up to test the abilities of the talent – YOU. That someone could be a producer, director, agent, casting director or anyone else who needs an actor for some purpose. You should know a few basic concepts about auditions before you get started as an actor.
You come to an audition to show your skills as an actor. Most auditions are set by appointment, so be sure you arrive fifteen minutes early, and expect to stay until you are seen. Arriving late is a sign of poor professional attitude. Everyone at an audition is extremely busy trying to achieve whatever is needed to help a project succeed. You don’t want to be the one who holds things up. In our business, time IS money. If you are not punctual at the audition, how can someone trust that you’ll be punctual on the set?
When you arrive at the audition, you should have with you an 8 x 10 headshot (or a composite) and a resume. You should also have your appointment book with you in case you need to know if you can be available for the part if you win it.
When you arrive (at most auditions) there will be a “sign-up” sheet for you to sign. This sheet will vary in content. If the call is for union actors, the sheet will include social security information, union information, age range and other information the union requires to keep auditions fair for their members, e.g. time of your call and time you finished the audition.
If it is for a nonunion call, there may be just a piece of paper for you to sign your name, so that you may be called in the order you arrive.
At some auditions, you will be asked before you arrive to have one or two monologues prepared in advance, each two or three minutes or under. Some auditors (the people who audition you) will want to see contrasting monologues, such as a comedic and a serious monologue, or a classical and a contemporary monologue. Always remember to keep to the time limitations asked of you. The idea is that the auditor can usually get a good indication of your abilities in the two minute time frame. Often there are many other actors waiting to be seen, and if you go over the time limit, the patience of the auditor might go against you in his/her evaluation of your work.
At other auditions, you may be asked to perform a “cold reading” from the play, commercial, industrial or movie script. You will be given “sides” (a small section of a script, usually one to ten pages) and a chance to look them over before you “perform” the audition. In this case, I recommend that you find a comfortable and relatively quiet spot to prepare your work. The concentration necessary to deliver quality work with such limited preparation is intense. If you find yourself in the waiting room chatting with other actors, you’ll usually not be at your best when you are called to perform. The temptation to become involved in these chat-fests is great. You should avoid this temptation.
Occasionally you will be asked to improvise something which may or may not have anything to do with the project. Be prepared. Don’t let any request make you nervous. Be positive.
Whatever you are asked to do at any audition, certain things should always remain consistent about your work:
1) You should always maintain a professional attitude. Believe it or not, you may actually meet people at an audition who for one reason or another you don’t particularly like. Don’t worry about it. Always be courteous. But remember, trying to win over the auditor with your charming personality won’t get you the part. Only your work will get you the part.
2) When you enter the audition space, which might be someone’s office, living room, theatre or studio, you will be introduced. You should politely acknowledge everyone in the room, but stay concentrated on your work.
3) If the audition is videotaped, you may be asked to “slate”. This means that you should look directly into the camera lens and state your name, and, if applicable, the name of the talent agency which represents you. After this “slate”, you will be expected to go right into the performance.
4) If you lose your concentration, or for some reason feel you might have done better with your work, or feel you would like to show another interpretation of the piece, you can always ask to be allowed to do it again. If the auditor(s) don’t want to see it again, politely thank them, wish them good luck with their project, and leave the room.
5) When you’ve done the best you can, forget about the audition. Don’t worry whether you got the part. Don’t call anybody to see “how you did”, or “if they liked you”. Just keep improving yourself as an actor, and wait for the next opportunity to audition for something. After all, every audition is just another chance to perform.
What To Wear
What you wear to an audition will vary depending on that for what you audition. If an agent sends you to the audition, the agent will often advise you about what to wear. If not, here are some standard guidelines:
1) The typical commercial audition “uniform” for men is a light blue shirt and khakis, dark blue sport coat and conservative tie. The idea here is versatility. If you need to be an accountant, you are set. If you need to be a construction worker, you take off the tie and coat, and you are set. This “uniform” is meant to suggest a “type”, and doesn’t have to be a perfect “costume”. This arrangement works well for women also. Sometimes you know in advance that you are expected to wear something special. Make sure you have it in your wardrobe. If you don’t, you can search the thrift stores, or charge it at your favorite department store, and return it the next day.
2) For movies or plays, some actors like to dress as much the part as they can. I personally go to these auditions in a black turtleneck or T-shirt, black khakis and black shoes. Movie companies will supply the costumes for you if you get the part. The black outfit doesn’t distract from the work I do. And it’s the work I do that ultimately counts.
Commercial vs. Film / Theatre
Commercial auditions usually require a different acting “style” than movies or plays, and this fact is probably obvious to most of you reading this. In commercials, you are “selling” something, either directly (as a spokesman), or indirectly (as a “character” in a situation). There are certain techniques that are helpful when acting in commercials, and I recommend taking a commercial class if possible to help you understand more about it (you can read Acting in Television Commercials for Fun and Profit by Squire Fridell for a very good source of information about acting in commercials). But if you can’t take a commercial class, you will still be able to do commercials. Many commercials have actors in principle parts not saying a word. The announcer does all the talking in these. And almost anyone who can relax, smile and say a few words can do a commercial.
For film and play auditions, depending on your training and talent, you will be expected to “be” the character as much as possible. Whether that “character” is a comedic type or a “serious” type, you will have to use whatever approach to the actor’s art you have learned to do the best work possible with a piece of a script that may or may not make much sense out of context.
Always approach the audition process as though it’s another opportunity for someone to see your work. Never get discouraged when you don’t get a part. There will always be other auditions for as long as you continue to be an actor.
GOOD LUCK 🙂