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Backstage Experts

What Do You Do When You Have a Bad Reader at an Audition

What Do You Do When You Have a Bad Reader at an Audition

Well, here you are, you've just arrived at your audition – and early, to boot! Now you have time to relax, go over your lines again, and freshen up! You look great, you feel great…bring it on! 

The monitor calls your name, and you confidently enter the audition room. You exchange pleasantries as well as brief introductions. You notice there are two chairs facing the "casting table," and a reader is already seated. You are asked to begin your scene. 

You begin your scene with your reader, and as you progress into the scene you realize, this reader is awful! You can barely hear him/her, you get no eye contact, and worse of all, there is no emotional connection between the two of you. 

Stay calm! You have worked on this scene, and you know where the emotional connections are. 

Whatever you do, don’t shrink to the level of this bad reader. If you try too hard to connect to this reader, you risk being sucked into his/her low-energy, lack-of-connection vortex, and then you would be doing yourself a great disservice. The "casting people" will see your acting with those limitations, and they will assume that that is the best you can do. 

You must trudge on – imagining that you are getting everything you need from this reader. In fact, you can use his/her lack of engagement to increase your determination to convince/connect with him/her.

Remember, this kind of communication happens all the time in real life. You are upset about something your significant other did, and when you passionately try to explain it to him/her, he/she shuts down. But you still go on, trying to make them understand!

It is the same in an audition with a bad reader. You just have to go on and be passionately engaged in what you are doing – becoming even more determined to get them to hear you, react to you, while still being authentic and "in the moment."

You should prepare in advance for the possibility of an inadequate reader. Rehearse your material as if your partner is awful, or if you are rehearsing with a partner, ask him/her to read a few times with little or no emotion so you are able to “adjust” your performance accordingly. Use it as an opportunity to exercise your acting skills!

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.

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