How to Breathe Away Your Audition Anxiety

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Your audition preparation doesn’t end when you’ve completed work on your sides.

The process continues during the time it takes for you to get ready, the duration of ride to the casting office and finally your time in the waiting room.

I call this “gap time,” and it is where a lot of very good preparation goes to die.

If you lose your concentration during this gap time, doubt has a chance to creep in, insecurities can flare up, focus and energy can decrease and anxiety may increase.

One way to keep yourself on track is by being constantly aware of your needs and taking care of them through the way you breathe. As you move through gap time your body and mind may need to relax, open, focus, or expand. Here are the four main gateways of breath that can provide you with those feelings:

The Stomach.
When we feel defensive, we tighten our stomachs. And there’s nothing like sitting in certain waiting rooms feeling the anxiety swirl around, or hearing certain actors boast about their recent successes to activate the defense mechanisms. The best thing to do here is to take large inhalations and exhalations of air into the stomach until it starts to soften. The defensive contraction will start to dissolve and you’ll begin to feel strong and expansive—exactly how you need to be feeling as you enter the room. The stomach breath expands.

The Heart or Solar Plexus.
When we’re feeling like we might be too emotionally vulnerable, or if we’ve recently been hurt, we protect this part of the body, usually by hunching the shoulders and bending slightly forward. However, it’s not a good idea to go into an audition, where your emotional availability is paramount, with a closed heart. To open it back up, pull the shoulders back, straighten the spine and take a number of breaths directly into the solar plexus. Put your hand there if it helps. You’ll feel a comforting warmth that will tell you the protective wall is melting and the heart is once again open and available. The solar plexus breath opens the heart.

READ: “3 Steps to a Nerve-Free Audition”

The Upper Chest.
When we’re stressed we tend to take shallow, quick breaths from the top of the chest. This sends a distress signal to the brain that creates anxiety and can also close the heart and clench the stomach. When you feel this short, panicky breath occurring, empty all of the air out of your lungs with a deep exhale and take a huge breath in that fills the entire upper chest. Do this for at least 5 breaths; the anxiety will fade and be replaced by a feeling of strong, calm energy. The upper chest breath relaxes.

The Nostrils.
The gap period offers many distractions! From the adventure of getting to the casting office, parking, dealing with weather to hearing the voices in the waiting room, you may often wait an unexpectedly long time. So after you’ve calmed yourself with the chest breath, focus your next minute of breathing on the sensations of the air as it moves into the nostril on the inhale and out of the nostril on the exhale. Feel the air go from cool to warm as you pay attention just to this very specific spot of the body. You’ll find that this takes some concentration and that’s good! You can’t walk into the room confident and clear if your mind is bouncing all over the place. The nostril breath focuses.

A great audition requires a way of preparing that goes beyond just the reading. You need the tools to manage and flourish through the entire process – from the moment you first look at the material, through the gap time, the room, the read and the adjustments until you finally walk out of the room. The breath can be a wise and helpful friend through all of it.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Craig Wallace
Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of the Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent, and casting consultant.
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