Most working actors go on dozens (if not hundreds) of auditions every year, and mastering that craft is a major part of the job. Do you want to develop your auditioning skills before you get into the room? Here are eight essential books all actors should read.
“Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part” by Michael Shurtleff
Shurtleff’s legendary book has been an audition bible for over 35 years. The Broadway casting director’s famous 12 Guideposts are carefully laid out in this easy-to-read manual, and incorporated into actor training all over the country.
“Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide” by Joanna Merlin
Actor, casting director, and esteemed professor Merlin’s impressive career has spanned over 50 years, and her vast knowledge from both sides of the table makes this popular audition guide an indispensable tool. Merlin’s advice is technical and easy to apply, and the book offers detailed steps for breaking down a scene and “applying actable choices.”
“The Audition Book: Winning Strategies for Breaking into Theater, Film and Television” by Ed Hooks
As the title suggests, this guide from actor and teacher Hooks covers audition tips for multiple mediums including film and television, commercials, industrials, interactive roles, and more. Hooks targets the modern actor in his latest addition, addressing the changing face of online content and its impact on the entertainment industry.
“The Audition Bible: Secrets Every Actor Needs to Know” by Holly Powell
Casting director Powell approaches audition prep as a physical and mental exercise in this useful tome, walking actors through each step of the process including the psychological war-zone she terms “The Lobby Sabotage.” She also outlines her six audition tools method for successful in-the-moment performance.
“How to Audition on Camera (A Hollywood Insider’s Guide)” by Sharon Bialy
This handy book (with a forward from Bryan Cranston) lays out auditioning truths from experienced casting director Bialy. You know all those in-the-room questions you’ve been dying to ask? Bialy addresses a long list of actor FAQs, such as “Should I sit or stand?” and “What do I do if there are multiple characters in a scene but only one reader in the room?”
“Audition for Your Career, Not the Job” by Tim Phillips and Stephanie Gunning
Auditions are not just about the job at hand; they’re opportunities to practice the craft and build relationships with CDs and directors. Renowned acting coach Phillips centers this guide on those long-term goals, walking actors through his patented Sherlock-Holmes-ing-the-text method of analysis and many other important techniques.
“The Monologue Audition: A Practical Guide for Actors” by Karen Kohlhaas
We’ll say it: Auditioning with monologues is hard. Legendary director and teacher Kohlhaas addresses this stick in the actor’s craw from preparation to execution, demystifying one of the most difficult forms of theatrical audition. Headed to an open call? Give this guide a read first, and learn how to direct, stage, and even enjoy performing your monologue in the room.
“Musical Theatre Auditions and Casting: A Performer’s Guide from Both Sides of the Audition Table” by Neil Rutherford
Gone are the days of jumping into 16-bars completely blind. International casting director Rutherford guides actors through the unique challenges of musical theater auditions in this useful guide, which includes chapters on every part of the process from submissions to dance calls to “being stopped during your song” and “getting out of the room.” EPAs, we’re ready for you.
*This post was originally published on Nov. 10, 2015. It has since been updated.
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