Recently I was behind the audition table on the panel for Urban Bard Productions as they are doing Comedy of Errors this summer downtown Toronto. Here are my observations to be taken in stride for anyone who thinks my opinion/advice is worth anything more than the breath I spent saying it 😉
1. If there is a script, STOP and read it. And if you don’t read it, do not announce that you have not read it! This happened more than once believe it or not. Just do yourself a favour and read the script.
2. If there is a sign on the door STOP and read it. Huh. I sense a theme here.
3. If it calls for an accent then do it. If you can’t do it: try. The panel wants to see you play – your willingness to just do it. (“the scripts are called Plays for a reason, so PLAY!”someone once told me.) Or if that scares the bee-jebus out of you, decline the audition because that’s the gig. But please don’t lie to the panel and say you can do a *insert region here* accent because they will likely ask you to do it: and when you come up short EVERYBODY FEELS AWKWARD. Own what you know. Work on what you don’t. But don’t try to get away with a lie.
4. Do NOT bring a knife to your audition. And then use it. And freak out the panel. Or just me.
5. Do have fun! When you are having fun we are having fun! Most audition panels are made up of people who have been in your shoes once-upon-a-time and we get it: it’s a weird thing to showcase all of you in 2 mins or less. What they want to see is your willingness, that’s 80% of the audition. There are some non-tangibles like “do you look the part” which may just be in the directors brain and never shared, or if you fit the costumes that were pre-made/rented. But really it’s your willingness to take direction, be relaxed with these certain people, showing us your homework without showing us your homework – all that in 2 mins is HARD and they know it. So just have fun and it will all be okay.
6. STAPLE your résumé to your headshot for the love of Shakespeare!!!
7. Read the room. You may not be able to do this yet but it is a skill every actor should have. If the panel keeps looking at the time, or has one word answers for you maybe you should wrap up your candid post-monologue chit-chat and get outta there. If they are looking at your résumé do not start your monologue until they look up! It’s the little things.
8. Go there. Just do it. The whole “we would rather see too much than too little” is fine for a theatre audition (again read the room and do your homework to see if this is contrary for that situation) but mostly just GO THERE. Fill the room. I’m not saying “be loud. be impressive. be a diva” no I’m saying own it. You got the audition now take it and make it yours. Don’t apologise (oh us Canadian actors) just do it!
I think that’s it. They seem so obvious but nerves and life get in the way. The trick is to not bring that into the room. That is the hardest part of all. But that’s what auditioning is. Take all in stride and keep going to get better at the audition part, and sometimes you will even GET the part 🙂
And now if you’ll excuse me I have to practice what I preach…