While interviewing casting director Duncan Stewart, whose cast the upcoming Broadway revival of "Pippin," I was really struck by what he said was the number one reason someone books the job. It wasn't gimmick, type, performing a standout song, or taking a million classes with a particular casting director. There is one thing he said really made an actor stand out. If you want to be the actor that books the role you should: TELL THE STORY.
Telling the story means doing more than saying words or hitting high notes. It means connecting the character to the other characters on the page, and personalizing your experiences to get the story across to others. "I want to know specifically who the actor is speaking to, what the actor is saying," Stewart said. "I want to understand what the person is saying through song."
In his episode of Actor's Next Level, Stewart goes on to talk about marketing, audition etiquette, and getting in the door, but most importantly he wants actors to know that your job is to tell the story. "I say this all the time, the person who tells the story books the job." Finding answers to your Who, What, Where is essential, but you also have to connect them together so they make a cohesive, connected story. Plus every story has an arc. Even in a two-minute monologue, 16 bars of music, or an Under-5, you have to find the beginning, middle, and end.
So the next time you're looking at copy, ask yourself these questions.
1. Who am I talking to? The way you talk to your boss is different than the way you talk to your sibling. So make sure you know who your character is talking to. When you personalize the receiver, your tone and demeanor will change, making it a more specific story.
2. What do I hope will happen by telling them this story? Are you trying to gain favor of your receiver? Are you trying to embarrass them? Get them to feel your pain? When your solidify your character's goal, your read will change quickly.
3. Do I have a beginning, middle, and end? Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Identify your intro, your point, and your closing beat to make sure you are getting your story across.
When your character tells a story, whether you memorized the text or perform a certain dance trick becomes less important. You become memorable in the mind of the casting director for how you made them feel. And that very well could be the one trick that gets you the part.
Jewel Elizabeth is the executive producer and host of Actor's Next Level, an interview show with the industry's top casting directors and agents. As an actor she's appeared on "All My Children," "Celebrity Apprentice," Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the Upright Citizen's Brigade. See all episodes at www.ActorsNextLevel.com.