Iím an Equity actor. And a theatre producer. And an acting coach. And now I can add audition auditor to my list of credentials after attending the Theater Bay Area general auditions this year. What an eye-opener that experience was. Iíd like to share some of my general thoughts with the folks that were on stage Ö I certainly know what it feels like to audition and then never get any feedback.
The audition starts when you step on the stage. Really. It starts as soon as we see the actors enter the stage. So many of the actors didn't even look at us. I know you're nervous, but you need to know that we wonít bite. Ok, so maybe some of them might, but it won't hurt. No need to stare at the designated spot on the floor while you're walking towards it. The sooner you make eye contact, the better.
Announce your piece before you begin. I know that it is supposed to be listed on your resume, but definitely remind us. Itís a way to connect with the casting people. When you just jump right into your pieces, youíre not giving us a chance to see you for you, nor do you give us a moment to be taken on this journey. When you rush right in, it makes me feel like I was thrown through the door, not lead through it.
Timing is everything. We really can tell a lot from the first 10 seconds of your piece or song, so make sure you shine from the get-go! The non-union actors only get two minutes and, you may feel like it's not much, but it really is. I saw many people do two or three pieces with ease in those two minutes, and I didn't feel rushed at all. Show 'em what you got! Don't make us guess if you can handle this type of role or that type of role. Give 'em a taste of each. The same goes for singers. If one verse does the trick, we donít need to hear two verses Ö move on to something else to show us your stuff!
Keep it current and unique. Every acting audition coach out there has her own way of doing things, so there is bound to be a whole lot of variety in auditioning techniques. However, I do believe that times change and what the casting directors want to see changes too. Problem is, we, as actors, aren't made aware of these changes. For example, the days of the two-minute monologue seem to be swiftly fading away. My advice: Be an individual and do some research. Find songs that everyone isn't doing or pieces that people don't know about. They are out there; it just takes some effort.
Whatever should you wear? I remember an old acting coach telling me I should wear black and white (waiter?), another one telling me to wear a long skirt (Does she have legs?), and still another one telling me to wear clothes that show off my body (Hello! What's she auditioning for?). It's a crapshoot, but ultimately there are clothes that flatter & those that really don't. Actors should really be aware of which is which and ask for help if they need it. I don't think that any actor wants anyone to be looking at their shoes, some strange design on their shirt, or their cleavage while they are trying to give an audition. Keep it simple--and make sure it fits.
Be passionate. And be yourself. One of the things that is so great about acting is that we are all individuals. No one out there can be you. I believe that there is room for every individual who has the passion and drive to be an actor, but they need to find the tools to succeed in "the business". This is an on-going challenge that will and should never stop as long as the actor wants to be competitive in the market and be the best actor they can be.
Was that the end? At the end of the audition, so many of the actors didn't say anything. They just finished their monologue or song and rushed off the stage as if we didn't matter at all. Maybe they were just so relieved to be finished and wanted to get off the stage as soon as they possibly could. Remember, I am speaking as an actor & an auditor, so I know how it feels. And Iím not the only one who felt kind of empty, like there was some unfinished business to do that was just hanging there. Not only is it just plain good manners to thank the people for being there to watch your performance, but it helps to put a button on the end of your audition. Let us know you are done & then we can see you as you again (a friendly, professional, actor) before you leave us. When we try to say "Thank You" after you are done, and we get nothing -- not even a look -- in return, ouch!
Break a leg! One last thing. Over those three days we saw a wonderful
variety of talent. I learned so much about the exciting possibilities in
the theatre industry here in the Bay Area. This list is really just my
way of giving actors some tools to help you succeed. Weíre all in this
together, so have confidence that youíre doing your absolute best and weíll
see that too.