3 Do’s When Mastering Audition Preparation

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Thank you for all the response to last week’s article “3 Don’ts When Mastering the Art of Auditioning.” It definitely sparked a bit of a debate, which I believe is a good thing. For us to question, probe, investigate, and feel passion is a good thing. What I wrote about was specific to when you are in the audition room. I want to now take the same tactics—connecting, rehearsing, and being honest—and explain how I use them to prepare for the room.

1. Connect. Yes, you must dig, search, and then go deeper to find a true way to connect with your material—to use any method that works for you so you can relate or identify with the character that you are auditioning for. The approach to the sides that we are lucky enough to have for maybe two days should be the same approach that we use when having two months to prepare for a play. Many of the same techniques apply, but in a CliffsNotes style. You need to answer all of the basics (who, what, when, where, why) and then find what part of you is this role. You want to find as much as you can—and up until the time you go in—continue to get deeper.

Connecting in the room is different. There are only a handful of casting directors in my experience that are in the scene and giving back. The majority do what we have all experienced—that’s just part of the job description. I’ve had so many actors tell me that they were thrown when they were in the room because they were really trying to connect and weren’t getting anything back. Connection has to come from your preparation, but once you’re in the room, be ready to connect with a wall. Side note: I’ve been on set when the lead of the show has been released and I have to act opposite a tennis ball on a C-stand. So yes, I have to be ready to act on my own.

2. Rehearse. Yes, do it—just not in the room. I worked with a new client this week on a “Vampire Diaries” series regular role. After reading the scene a few times, it hit me that she was acting the scene out in preparation for what she would experience in the room. That is what auditioning takes away from us, and I want to encourage you all to get it back before you go in the room. I reminded her that I was present and acting opposite her in the scene. I wanted her to stop going for the result and see what she could discover. We jumped in. The scene took on a whole new level and afterwards her eyes lit up. She had found what the scene meant for her character, and the fun of acting again. But just as soon as she’d realized this, then came the inevitable question: “Yeah, but how do I do that in the room when I am not getting anything back?”

Well, do you really think that you are going to forget what you just felt? No—that is in you now. Period. You have just discovered nuances that weren’t on the page and that is what books a role, so look at it as sense memory, just tweaked for the room. I had her do it again. I then read flat and gave nothing. She nailed it.

3. Be honest. This is what we aspire to—the ultimate goal and something I continue to strive for as an actor. What I have found interesting is that when I am coaching (and not reading like a CD), my truth is unwavering. I have become a much better actor because I get to coach every day. So we need to strive for that in our preparation. I find that most actors pick up the material after reading the breakdown and immediately start acting. I encourage my clients to start from their own truth first. It allows us to stop acting. In the room, this is what we can fall back on. A client once went to an audition right after her boyfriend had broken up with her. She ended up crying through her audition which, by the way, was a comedy that did not call for tears. And she booked it.

So I hope that this gives you more insight into what I meant by the “don’ts” in a room. It’s not easy to encapsulate what I coach into 700 words or less, but I’ll never stop trying.

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Sara Mornell
Sara Mornell is a working actor, coach, and Backstage Expert.
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