One of the biggest frustrations I hear from parents is that they don’t know how to prepare their young actor for major auditions effectively. Since I teach, coach, and cast young actors, I see how challenging it can be to help them get comfortable enough with the material so they have a successful audition.
The top audition prep issues I hear from parents are that they don’t have time to work with their child because they get the sides the night before, they don’t know how to work on the scene with them, and they don’t know what casting is looking for other than their child memorizing the lines.
Fortunately, the solutions to these issues are easier than you may realize.
1. Understand that everyone gets sides at the last minute.
It’s helpful to know that most parents get sides the night before. Occasionally you’ll receive sides a few days in advance if your agent or manager can get them to you, especially if there is a lot of dialogue. But most of the time it’s 24 hours or less in advance. Accepting and planning for this can help you avoid adding extra stress to your preparations.
2. Tell the story.
The best way to work on sides with your young actor is to have them tell you the “story” of what’s happening in the scene. Who are they talking to and why? How do they feel about the other people in the scene? Have them tell you the beginning, middle, and end of the story in the first person using the dialogue given. This practice not only solidifies their point of view but hopefully helps them commit their lines to memory versus straight memorization.
3. Build an arc with emotions.
Once you’ve conquered the story, have them retell it to you from a different emotional place. Have them do the whole scene super excited, disappointed, or frustrated. This tip helps them find different emotional states they may not discover simply by memorizing the scene. Remember, every story has an arc to the scene where the emotional point of view changes. It’s important to help your child identify this or else the scene will fall flat.
4. Use the environment.
What’s the environment? There’s a big difference between having a conversation in the library versus a crowded lunchroom. Bring the environment into the work. So many actors think their scene starts on the line, yet there are things to see, hear, and look at before you begin speaking. Having a sense of the environment fleshes out the scene instead of just saying the lines.
5. Be supportive.
Just because your young actor doesn’t book the job doesn’t mean they’re not good. There are so many variables that go into casting an actor that is out of their control. Make sure they know that no matter what happens, you’re there for them and there will always be other opportunities.
Having parents who know how to help their young actor make solid choices and feel comfortable with the material makes a huge difference in the audition room. Encourage your child to stay positive and keep cultivating their talent!
*This post was originally published on April 18, 2019. It has since been updated.
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