Auditioning is often seen as the poor uncreative cousin to acting; a necessary evil, the thing you have to learn so that you can get the job and really act.
This losing attitude is just plain wrong.
Auditioning is a dynamic creative process that can shine a light on your soul and test your skills and bravery like few other artistic disciplines can. It is an art form unto itself.
Here are just a few of the many qualities that make it so:
1. Self-knowledge is its cornerstone. A successful film/TV audition answers the question, “Who are you and what do you have to add to the role?” It’s not about acting choices, but what you personally have to add to the role. It requires a way of working that allows you to go deeply into your own personality and explore your internal landscape. “What are the most interesting and compelling qualities I have to offer this role?” “Which parts of me will bring the words to life in the most unique way?” “What will give the piece the strongest, truest heartbeat?”
Self-exploration is exhilarating and necessary work for the actor and the basis of the art of auditioning. Greatness can be achieved by the knowledge gained through these journeys of self-exploration as you continue to patiently and persistently peel back the layers of the onion and discover the intersection of yourself and the words on the page.
The art of film/TV audition is discovering not how you can act the role, but who you are in the role.
2. It requires its own technique. The art of performance requires a method that allows you to disappear into a character. The art of audition requires a technique that allows you to create and define that character with the unique qualities that are yours and yours alone.
The audition technique you use needs to increase your focus and concentration. It needs to assist you in listening and reacting with more energy and spark than you may normally listen with in your real life. It needs to make the stillness required in a film/TV audition look natural even if it’s an action scene! Your technique needs to help you safely and specifically target the most compelling qualities that you have to bring to the role. And because you are doing all of this preparation by yourself, your technique has to fulfill the role of a wise, gentle, and persistent director. Finally, it needs to allow you to let all of the work go so that you can be present in the room with confidence and ease, and be the actor they want to work with and have to hire.
3. It demands a special brand of courage. Any art form that asks you to stand up in front of people and express yourself requires courage. Auditioning though, tests your courage, not just at the end, but every step of the way. It starts with having the courage to explore your heart and soul and to not stop until you find the truest and rawest parts of yourself to incorporate into the material. It continues in the need for complete trust in yourself and your instincts, as well as the courage to commit to your decisions having no idea how they will be received—auditioning is a solitary art form.
If you have mastered the art of auditioning, you have instilled the words on the page with your specific life and humanity. Now, you have to stand in the room and let everybody see your life and humanity with no work or character to hide behind and no other actors to save you. Just you.
And then you have to accept the responses to your audition. If you’re performing as an actor or singer, you can always assign some of the reaction to your performance to things outside of yourself: “they didn’t like the play, not their type of music, etc.” But in auditioning it’s once again just you, and if you don’t book the job, the “no” can have a much sharper sting.
Artists are always exposed to some degree when they share their work, but there seems to be always something in most artistic disciplines that leave the artist somewhat protected —partially clothed. A true and honest TV/film audition, however, demands complete exposure and full-frontal emotional nudity.
This is not an art form for the weak or timid; it requires all of the fierce and tender bravery of the true artistic warrior.
Auditioning—especially for the camera—is the art of personal expression. It is about bringing the words to life by instilling them with the most interesting, resonant parts of yourself—illuminating them with what excites and moves you, and then delivering them with a voice that is unique to you.
It is the art of telling the truth, naked, in extreme close-up.
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