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Backstage Experts

During and After the Audition

During and After the Audition

As I was saying in my last article “Preparing for a Great Audition”:

Always arrive a few minutes early. As you sit in the waiting room for your name to be called, it may be helpful to carry an index card with some key phrases to remind you of your preparation and to keep you focused, i.e. “Stay focused,” “Keep energy up,” “Do my third audition first.” “Make a strong beginning,” “No one is better than me,”—write whatever sayings that inspire you to do your best. Take another look at your notes in your audition diary and get ready to make all your preparation pay off!

Now it is your turn. Once your name is called, walk in with an upbeat demeanor and greet the people behind the table with a smile and your name. Don’t try to shake hands unless prompted —not only does this slow down the auditioning process, but it is also for health concerns: no casting person wants to shake a hundred hands, nor do you want to shake the hand of someone who shook a hundred hands. 

Have your picture and résumé out and ask if they would like one (remember to take control of your audition; you lead its course). Be aware that some people behind the desk may not be as gregarious; don't let this throw you. It has nothing to do with you. Now you need to quickly assess the room (its size; where you are going to stand; if you need a chair).

The director or casting director will ask you to begin your scene or monologue. This is your time. Every audition should have the adrenaline of opening night, which you can use to fuel your performance. These are your two minutes. Get the most out of them. 

If doing a monologue, it is best not to make eye contact with anyone in the room; use a different focal point like a person's ear or forehead. You can also pick a spot on the wall, a place on the table, just as long as your head is up and your eyes are visible and your voice is loud and clear. 

When doing a scene, you should know the material well but hold your sides to refer to—you should have rehearsed both when you will look at your sides and when to flip the pages. Keep in mind that we need to see your face so hold the sides away from your head; practice turning pages as quietly as possible—this will be extremely important if you are going on tape. You must look at the person you are reading with. (What is a scene if there is no communicating between two people?)

If your reader seems to be a less stellar actor than you had anticipated, there are different ways to approach this: 

Know the material so well that you can stay on point emotionally even if the person seems absent, or try to use it to your advantage, if appropriate for the scene. (If it's a scene that requires some anger on your part, that certainly would be appropriate). Remember that the quality of the reader is not in your control. 

If you are asked to make an adjustment to your material, please make sure you understand the adjustment. (If you don't understand it, speak up.) If you need a moment to adjust to some direction, say something. If you have a question, ask it. You are in control of your audition. When you are finished with your scene or monologue, you might say, “I’d be happy to do it again if you have any adjustments for me,” or “Is there anything else I can show you?”

Most casting professionals will be friendly and encouraging—after all, they are hoping you will be terrific—but sometimes your auditioners will be less than enthusiastic at your audition. I can't tell you enough how often adverse reactions of the people behind the table have nothing to do with your audition. It just happens. Remember, these creative people are people just like you and me. We all have bad days, we all sometimes hold grudges, we all take it out on people and sometimes we can spend the day zoned out and out of touch. Don’t let it phase you.

After the audition, write down what happened in your audition diary, analyze it, learn from it, and move on! You are doing yourself a disservice by trying to figure out what was on the casting director or director's mind, or if you're getting a call back or even if you'll get the job. It's wasted energy. Just analyze how to better prepare yourself so you can figure out what you can do better at your next audition or congratulate yourself for a job well done.

Try to remember: It's not always about getting the job. Try accomplishing one of these three goals at an audition and if you walk out feeling you've done any of these, you've won the game. 

Impress the casting director enough to call you in for another project. 

Use the audition to learn something for future auditions. For example: “I asked a question about whether I could move during the scene and that was well received and helped my audition.” 

Have fun! Do not expect to be perfect, for there is no perfection. Perfection leaves no room for mistakes and growth. Aim instead for excellence. Excellence is a far healthier goal, and one that is actually attainable. 

Now, go forth and conquer!

John Essay has been a theatrical manager and producer for nearly 25 years. His company, Essay Management, represents actors, writers and directors in all areas of the entertainment industry. He also created, a website reflecting the culmination of all that he has learned in the last 25 years as a personal manager.

And for more acting advice, visit Backstage’s YouTube channel!

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