What Do You Suggest to Cure Audition Anxiety?

Barney Oldfield

Barney Oldfield Management, New York

Anxiety about an audition is common but unwarranted. Auditions come and go, often for projects that never get produced or mercifully die when they are produced. Auditions are part of the process. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don't. Either way, the actor should not put too much emphasis on them.

Actors rarely see the big picture or understand how projects are actually put together. Most projects are cast well before the first breakdown goes out. Casting directors will probably fill any open roles from their Rolodex and then go through the casting session, whether required by the producers or Equity. Often it's a formality.

It's a system that lends itself to recirculating mediocre established actors like stale air in an airplane. The fact is, in most cases, the actor has already auditioned for a role before he enters the room. In other words, the die has been cast. Knowing that, the actor should view the Sturm und Drang of a casting session as theater, not unlike the play itself. Instead of agonizing over it, the actor should concentrate on building a name, so the audition becomes nothing more than an exercise.

That said, auditions are part of what actors must go through in order to get known and build their careers. Building a name requires a great deal of determination, energy, and, most of all, time. It is a long-term effort, and that includes enduring auditions.

Al Caz

Alpha Centauri Management, Galloway Township, N.J.

If you experience extreme anxiety before an audition, I recommend doing some meditation. It helps clear the mind and body and relaxes your breathing and heart rate. Controlling your heart rate is essential in helping you stay cool, calm, and collected during an audition.

If you're still feeling nervous, drinking a four-ounce glass of wine an hour before the audition might help settle your nerves. Of course, you should not drink if you're prohibited medically from doing so or because of religious beliefs.

But clearly, the most enduring cure for extreme anxiety is honing your acting skills, so you have the utmost confidence in nailing the audition. Nothing quells fear more than confidence. An actor should also try rehearsing as much as possible in front of friends or family prior to the audition. If you can perform well in front of people you will see again, who are probably the most critical (that is, of course, if they really care), then you should be able to perform for a casting director, producer, or director. An actor should also consider taking comedy or improvisation classes. Having a good sense of humor and comedic timing can help in a tense situation.

Avoid too much caffeine. It will make you sweat and raise your heart rate. Also avoid heavy clothing. You want to be comfortable up there. The cooler you are, the less you'll sweat. Now go meditate, have a glass of wine, and nail that audition.

Susan Ferris

Bohemia Group, Los Angeles

Put the sides down and walk away from rehearsing for a while. Figure out where the anxiety is coming from. Is it your first audition? Or is it an audition for a major project? We have found that getting to the root of the anxiety helps eliminate it, if not totally, at least partially.

We do a lot of coaching here, and our goal is always to get actors into as relaxed a state as possible before going into a read. Sometimes that entails reviewing every possible scenario that can happen at an audition. Other times it involves running lines and then going to get a cup of coffee. Most of the time, anxiety comes from pressure that actors are putting on themselves. We have found that doing simple, carefree activities is a big help. Taking a walk around the block, shooting the breeze with a friend, even smoking (if that's what the actor does) seem to be relaxing.

Going into an audition relaxed, the actor will always prevail. Knowing that the world does not hang on how the audition goes makes a big difference. Every audition is an opportunity, but it's not the only opportunity, which seems to be the biggest source of anxiety for actors. But telling the actor to put it all in perspective is a lot easier than getting him or her to actually do it.

If none of that works, use the approach taken by Marcia Brady in one episode: Picture everyone at the audition in their underwear.

Christie Thomas

Commonwealth Talent Group, Los Angeles

First try to get to the bottom of why you are so anxious. Are you as prepared as you can be before you go into that room? Knowledge is king. Not only does this mean that you need to know the material; it means you also have to own a "toolbox" of craft that you can fall back on if you stumble. As long as you have honed your craft in class, at a conservatory, or through coaching, you should be able to rise above any nerves by falling back on your tools. Knowledge also includes research on the character, the show, and the script. It's also a good idea to be familiar with the casting director and other members of the creative team attached to the project. This information can help give you a sense of control and help diminish nervousness.

The other question I address: Are you so invested in booking the role that you can't see the forest for the trees? As long as you have done the work, now you need to let it go. The most important thing to do in an audition is to win the room, not book the audition. If you have done your job, you will walk out with a room full of fans who want to find you a job, whether it's this one or the next.

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