Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Audition Best Practices: A Top 20 for Actors

This blog is Part 1 of 2, featuring the Top 20 Tips for Auditioning

We have wanted to write this blog post for such a long time, and are so excited to share these little nuggets of information about auditions because, as fellow actors, we know that the task of auditioning can be both exciting and terrifying! Over the years we have gathered as much information as we can from other casting directors (admittedly, many of the tips and tricks listed below were stolen directly from Bob Mason.) If you feel confident in your knowledge of do's and don'ts, your job just got a heck of a lot easier!  If you can focus on the things you know how to control, you'll find auditioning fun and exhilarating - promise!

Below is a list of tips that will help you prepare for ANY audition, including BoHo's.

How to prepare for ANY audition - things you MUST do!
  1. Make sure your resume is stapled to the back of your headshot, and make sure it is cut to the 8x10 industry standard.  You can go to an office max, buy a ream of paper, and ask them to cut the paper to this size!  I have heard several times of casting directors who will throw away headshots that don't meet this standard based on the fact that it will not fit in their files.
  2. List any and all pertinent skills on your resume.  Be as specific as possible (what kind of stage combat, what kind of dance etc.)  Treat your resume as you would any professional resume. Be smart about which skills you choose to list! Quirky and fun talents are great, but "belching the ABC's" is definitely not.
  3. List all significant teachers and directors - it's a small world!  If we are interested in you but do not know your work, we may want to chat with someone who does!
  4. Select a monologue that shows your range - it needs a beginning, middle, and end.  Choose something that has a discovery and takes the auditor on a journey; make sure you have a point of view.  "Safe" choices are ones that lead to stagnant performances; even if your choice isn't what the director would go with, the important thing is to show you make choices!
  5. Select pieces that best represent YOU.  If the monologue is age, or race specific, pay attention to this - if you are 22, you will most likely not be cast in a "mother role," so avoid doing a "mother monologue."  Some pieces are not age/race specific and you can get away with a departure from yourself, but if the piece is from a well-known play, do not take that risk. 

  6. If you choose to do a monologue from the play you are auditioning for, understand the risk involved.  Some directors will be very open to this, and others will be turned off.  It's possible you may "wow" someone and even help shape their opinion of the character, but be aware that many directors will have firm opinions about a character prior to the start of the process and your take may be very different from theirs. 

  7. Never choose to address your piece to someone in the room.  If we feel we are acting with you, then we are not truly able to do our work and focus on you.  Also, do not choose to do your monologue to someone in a chair or on the ground - we want to be able to see your eyes!  Pick a spot just above the auditor's head either directly in front of you or on an angle (just make sure we are not looking at your profile the whole time!)
  8. There is no need to shake hands with anyone, unless a handshake is offered to you.  No one is trying to be mean here, but keep in mind that we might see 100 people in a day, which makes for a lot of handshaking!  There is also a hygiene issue to consider.... yes, I know that sounds gross but it's true!
  9. If you are introduced when escorted into the room, there is no need to re-introduce yourself - just the name of the character and play will do.  Also - please do not give us a play synopsis or any kind of exposition.

  10. Always be prepared to do a second monologue.  Think of "contrasting" more in terms of a different character, voice, point of view - not necessarily a different style or genre (though this is ok too.)  If you list that you're a singer, be prepared to sing 16 bars a capella.

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