The moment has come. Are you ready? I’m going to tell you the super secret key to rocking all your auditions. Yes, that’s right. I’m going to divulge with all you wonderful actors at The Right Cast the secret, singularly perfect way to do yourself proud in that casting room. Okay. Here it comes…
Prepare. Be on time. Do good work. Leave. Forget about it.
Disappointed? Don’t be! Take a deep breath, and let relief wash over you. Five steps are all you need to think about. I truly believe, after years of worrying, praying, berating, crying, screaming and shrine-building to the Audition Gods, there are only five things that an audition requires. That’s it! Only five simple steps, and if you follow them all, you can be totally satisfied with yourself. Let’s recap:
Prepare. Be on time. Do good work. Leave. Forget about it.
Still retaining that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach that feels less like butterflies and more like giant fire-breathing dragons? Relaaaaax. A casting director once told me that no one audition will ever make or break your career. You will have many, many, many auditions in your life, and you will have many, many opportunities to show off all your awesome skills. So no one audition should make you feel like that miserable, awkward 6th grader you once were when Kevin McVoy would make fun of you every day in math class. (Not that that happened to me. Sigh.) You are a strong, talented, and totally confident performer! So let’s review how to rock those auditions of yours.
1. PREPARE: The first, and possibly one of the most important, steps in our process. Whether it’s a week, a day or an hour before your audition, you must prepare. This is what separates the pros from the amateurs. Live with your sides (as much as possible). Make choices in your rehearsal process. Who is this character? What does he/she want? Why must he/she get that right now in this scene? What are three totally different choices you could use to perform this scene? Most audition classes with casting directors, coaches, and directors focus on this vital step, but in all honesty, you already know what to do. The tough part is just doing it! Don’t stay up all night playing Wii: learn your lines, get your rest. You don’t, however, need to be totally off-book in an audition; furthermore, you should NEVER audition without your sides. Don’t leave anything up to chance. Set your alarm with plenty of time to get ready before the audition, make sure you’ve gotten directions to the audition place and you KNOW where you’re going as far in advance as possible, set out your audition outfit the night before and have it ironed. Have headshots and resumes pre-made so you aren’t rushing around looking for them 10 minutes after you should have left your house. (This all helps #2) This is all in preparation. Don’t set yourself up to fail in that room. Set yourself up to rock their socks off by doing your preperatory work!
2. BE ON TIME: You are already doing better than 90% of your competition if you simply show up on time. Sounds too easy to be true? Failing to do so is the easiest way to convince them to not hire you. Why should they hire the girl who showed up 20 minutes late, screwing up their inevitably tight scheduling for the day, and who will probably then end up showing up to set 20 minutes late and forcing their clients to lose money on their poor casting choice? SHOW UP ON TIME. This doesn’t mean to show up 2 hours ahead of time. (Early is not on time.) Then you’ll just awkwardly sit there in their lobby, while the monitor uncomfortably stares at you, and they don’t know what to do with you. Aim to be there 15 minutes before your audition slot, no earlier and no later. This will give you a minute to review your sides, go to the bathroom, sign in your name. If you know they’ll be giving you cold sides to read, you can show up a little earlier, but again, they know you’re reading sides cold. Your performance will obviously not be the same as if you’d had the copy the day before. (Or, at least, it shouldn’t be.) The really important thing here is to not walk in late. You’ve already given yourself a strike before you even open your mouth. And sure, accidents happen, tires go flat, medical emergencies occur…of course, these things can make you late, and a casting director will understand. BUT! Traffic, bad parking, and bad directions are no excuse. Those are all things you should PREPARE for. (See #1!)
3. DO GOOD WORK. I say this a little ironically. Who knows what good work is? It’s all subjective. What you consider to be great acting the director may think is bottom-of-the-barrel boring. Oh well! The important thing (as I once heard Phillip Seymour Hoffman say in a guest class) is to treat your audition as the opportunity to unleash some really great acting. It’s a bizarre job interview, in any case. Two minutes to make a memorable and great impression? Two minutes to create an entire world, sob, laugh, make them laugh, flirt, terrify? BIZARRE. However, if you don’t do it…someone else will. So go in there, and do the very best you can. And, please, help out your inner artist and don’t go to any audition exhausted, hungover, starving, grumpy, or pissed. Leave the rest of your life at the door, walk in, introduce yourself and do good work, whatever that means to you. That’s really all you can ask of yourself. And you will always, always walk out of that room proud of yourself.
4. LEAVE. Self-explanatory, right? Now you can pick up the angsty peices of the rest of your day and walk out of that office, proud of yourself. I always try to do something nice for myself after an audition, even if it’s just putting on nice-smelling hand lotion or taking a short walk. Something to congratulate myself on doing a difficult job well.
5. FORGET ABOUT IT. If you did Step 3 correctly, you’ll be so excited for that phone call inviting you to a callback or congratulating you on booking the job. Don’t be. Forget about the audition. Sure, you can send a follow-up postcard or whatever, but seriously? Forget about it. Don’t over-analyze it with your mother. Let it be what it was and move on with your life. Move on to, ideally, your next audition! More opportunities to act and act well! The only excuse I’ll give you will be to write down your immediate thoughts on how the audition went, what you did that was good, what you did that was bad, and what you could improve for next time. Then…forget about it.
There. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. What a weight off your mind! Auditions are not something you should fear, and hopefully these 5 Steps will help you take the mystery out of a very challenging yet important experience for every actor. Good luck and do good work!