There are tons of blogs, articles and books on the subject from “How to ace your audition” to “Booking the job” so many you wont know where start.
I would suggest you start at your local bookshop or specialist theatre bookshops like Samuel French aka ‘Frenches (London, America, Online). They carry almost every book you can think of on auditions and acting techniques, but if you can’t get the hard copy you can always go on the net and download monologues and scenes from notable plays.
I’m old skool and I prefer to have the hard copy of the play or audition piece- why Judd? I do appreciate technology and all it can do for you but I’m a scribbler and I love making notes all over my script for me to refer to. I’ve been to auditions and seen actors come in with their iPad and read from it. “My my” I think to myself “where do they get to write their notes down and use the wonderful highlighter pen?” So as a director I would always encourage my actors to use the real script and scribble away.
What has this all got to do with auditioning? Well auditions can be the most terrifying experience to an actor even if its your one hundredth time doing it, the aim is to feel comfortable and prepared because who knows what they will ask you to do?
Auditions come in all shapes and sizes and here they are:
The Audition for the low budget play: You’ve seen the casting notice on a popular online actors site and the part sounds like it was made for you, perfect. You read on and discover they have given a contact number for you to call and you think “fantastic I can speak to the director personally and wow them over the phone” You get your chance and yes you were right you really did wow them over the phone, then you get invited to come and audition- this job is mine baby!!! You walk in only to meet at least fifty other actors who also had a great rapport with the director over the phone L
You see the thing with low budget productions is that they need to see as much talent as possible and usually these jobs are non paying but doesn’t mean the quality of work is low, but they only have a very small budget that can only stretch to giving a small lunch or covering your travel expenses when you book the job. So their aim is to give you easy access to them so they can talk up the project and you won’t mind being broke whilst working with them. Remember for richer or poorer J
The Audition for the major musical or play: Very rarely will you see the casting notice for a major musical or play, only if they are casting the ensemble or the background artist or if it’s a long running musical like The Lion King and its touring. So if you do get an audition for a major show you may have got it through your Agent or Manager or you know the director, writer, producer as a friend or they may have seen your work before. The reason these are not so easy to come by is that the production company will not list their contact number for you to wow them over the phone (they really don’t need no more calls for the day, because they are soooooooooooo busy being soooooooooo busy!)
Anyway let’s stay positive and say you get a call from your agent or manager and they give you a break down of what type of character they are looking for. They send you the script and you think perfect this person not only sounds like me but they even look like me too! You walk into the audition and find that somehow your unique looks look similar to everyone else?? How can that be? Well at this private audition where there are usually less people, the casting director has had instructions from the writer/producer/director or whoever has autonomy overall, that they are looking for a certain “type” must have long hair? must have short hair? must have no hair? Who knows, but it just so happens that when they saw your headshot you fitted the bill. So now that you realize that you look like most of the people in the audition you need to go in and be unique and give the director something they have never seen before.
The informal chat Audition: Belief it or not there are actors who have booked work just by having a chat with the writer/director. How could they have come by this type of audition? Well one of the reason could lie in your previous work or your last audition
(the one with the whole world present or the one where everyone looked alike) you did something that stood out and maybe this writer/ director/ casting director was really impressed and would like to consider you for a part in a new production. Ok this type of audition may not require you to read from a script and maybe all they really want to do is see how you are as a person and see what you can naturally do without ‘acting’. Confusing? So you want me not to act? How do I do that? It’s a fine art and its called just being yourself and this should be easy.
The recall Audition: This is the one, you’re nearly there! At this stage you should’ve been doing your happy dance or made up song entitled “I’m gonna make it to the top” because getting this type of audition is an achievement all on its own. You beat the crowd of a gazillion actors, and no more carbon copies of you, just YOU! Now walk in there with your head held high and do your thing!! Oh and try not to do something that’s drastically different from what you did before because the reason they are calling you back is that they liked what you did the first time. At recalls they may ask you to read from the same script and by then you will be off the page and know it from memory, they may also get you to read something else, just relax and handle it the same way as you did before. If you are a nervous reader, ask for a few minutes to absorb the lines and make a decision on how your character would say the line. Keep the happy dance in your mind and go for it!
The Audition you didn’t hear about Audition: This audition is the opposite to the recall audition, no happy dance or song required, only punching a pillow or slamming your hands down on a table and shouting “WHY????” Sadly out of all the auditions this is the most common one for all actors. Even if you have an agent or a friend in the industry and even if the casting director came up to you after your show and said “great performance” it won’t stop the chance of you experiencing the ‘Audition you didn’t hear about Audition’ it’s so sad right L You sit there watching the show loving the storyline and looking at the audience and seeing that they are engrossed in every line every movement and emotion of the actors on stage and you sit there saying “Why didn’t I know about this show, when did they send out a casting notice about this??” You start to wonder if your agent is any good for you, or are they just sitting around drinking coffee and being soooooo busy being sooooooooo busy? You want to know the reason why you didn’t hear about the “Audition you didn’t hear about Audition” life just goes that way sometimes but that’s no reason to sulk, just keep going for it!