Building Your Ego: The Art of Auditioning

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Ben and David are extremely, extremely successful actors who also give free acting advice. If you listen to them you will most likely become famous. If you don’t, things probably won’t pan out for you.

A career of auditioning all the time can leave a lot of us actors feeling powerless. Some common complaints we hear are, “I’m not good enough,” “I feel so insecure,” and, Dear God, please wake me when this nightmare is over.”Luckily, we found a solution: Audition even more.

But before you dust off your copy of “The Best Monologues of 1992–1993” (though it was a great year for monologues), let us explain: When we say auditioning, we don’t mean that you should go to more auditions. We are talking about holding your own auditions so that you can spend a little well-deserved time at the top of the food chain. Just rent a room, put out an audition notice, and voila! Now you’ve got the conch. Don’t worry that you aren’t really casting anything. Actors love any chance to act, and you get to rediscover your sense of self-worth by telling them what to do.But there’s a fine line between humiliating others to benefit your own ego, and having people report you once again to Actor’s Equity. Here are a few tips to boost your confidence, while still making your “audition” feel like the real deal:

1. Choose the right room. Try and find a really small space. One that makes everyone say, “Am I in the right place?” The room should be small enough that it barely costs you anything, and the intimacy makes the actors unsettled. (Actors do their best work when they are out of their comfort zones).

2. Get an unpaid assistant. “But Ben and David, who would be my assistant for free?” The answer: almost everyone. Just ask any young, eager, theater artist and they’ll do anything just to be “part of the process.” They’ll do everything you tell them to, and they may be willing to pay you. Believe it or not, we’ve even heard of people actually paying to audition! But that’s obviously an urban legend. No decent person would ever make an actor pay for an audition. That’s absurd.

3. Really make the space yours. This step is crucial to kicking the day off feeling intoxicated with power. Begin by making people wait as long you want. Then as the day gets rolling, feel free to take your shoes off, kick up your feet, and relax. This is your time, so get comfortable. Texting is always welcome, and eating is a no-brainer. Feel free to eat entire meals during an actor’s audition. It’s totally OK. They won’t complain.

4. Change the audition materials at the last minute. One of our favorites is to have the actors prepare many sides (our record-to-date is 14 different scenes!) and then at the last second, inform them you’ll only be doing the first five lines of the very first side. This really gets people riled up, so you can finally feel what it’s like to be the top dog. Speaking of which,maybe forget the sides all together and have them do animal exercises. The possibilities are endless!

Both of us have read lots of books on psychiatry, and they all say pretty much the same thing: If you want to feel good about yourself, then someone else must feel bad about themselves. It’s just a fact. But if for some crazy reason you decide not to host fake auditions, we recommend finding other ways to blow out a few candles, so that yours will burn just a little brighter.

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