5 Things to Never Do At An Audition—And 5 Tips to Get That Callback

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As a professional NYC-based actor and co-founder/acting coach at Polish Your Passion, I get the opportunity to constantly “practice what I preach.” Whether you are getting ready for your college auditions, professional theatre auditions, or film/TV/commercial auditions, here are 10 Acting Audition Dos and Don’ts that apply across the board to every audition.

1. Do warm up before your audition. If you don’t have time to do a full physical and speech warm-up, even a 5-10 minute warm-up can have a major impact on your audition. Spend extra time warming up your articulators before any Shakespeare or heightened language audition. If your audition requires you to speak in a dialect, speak your favorite articulation warm-ups in that dialect, readying yourself for the vowel, consonant, and rhythm changes that the dialect requires.

2. Do look up every unfamiliar word in your audition material. And when we say "look up", we mean for both meaning and pronunciation. This doesn’t apply solely to Shakespeare auditions. Contemporary plays and film/TV audition sides often have unfamiliar words in them. The minute it takes to Google a definition or YouTube a pronunciation will not only give you more ownership of the material, but that specific word choice might unlock a deeper understanding of the character, text, or circumstance.

3. Do take a breath before you start your audition material. Your 5- or 10-minute audition slot is your time to shine. Our audition nerves (or excitement) can sometimes make us rush. Don’t miss an opportunity at the top of your audition to launch into your monologue or scene in a grounded, specific way with a clear sense of your character’s “moment before” or what has just happened to your character immediately before the scene or monologue begins.

4. Do create a clear ending or “button” to your audition material. This will help you avoid delivering the last word of text and looking immediately at the casting director/director for approval. Has your character achieved his or her objective? How close have they gotten to winning or losing? Land the last line of your monologue or scene and wait a second or two to either process what your character has just been trying to achieve or imagine the reaction that the character you are talking to in your audition material might have.

5. Do be prepared to talk about your resume. That means all of it, including the directors, theatres, productions, training, and special skills that you have written down. The “interview portion” of the audition can be just as important as the audition material itself, especially if it’s the first time you are meeting a director or casting director. That being said, if they don’t engage in conversation, wish them a great rest of their day and move on. Don’t linger in the room.

READ: “19 Things Casting Directors Want You to Know”

6. Don’t inch too close to the auditors or reader. Although our movement is more limited in film/TV auditions to stay in frame, we have more opportunity to move around the space in theatre auditions. Sometimes when we are in the middle of an audition side or monologue, our impulse is to move toward our reader or “invisible scene partner.” By all means, do not stifle movement impulses in theatre auditions, but keep your distance and avoid invading personal space.

7. Don’t yell throughout your entire audition. No one wants to be screamed at for two minutes… or five minutes. Find levels, dynamics, natural builds, and rhythms within your audition material.

8. Don’t waste the opportunity to show your full range. If you are asked to present two contrasting monologues for an audition, seize the opportunity to select material that is truly contrasting and best shows off your range within your age-appropriate, castable type. If you are asked to prepare multiple audition sides, it is often to see how you handle different circumstances within the character’s arc. These “8-10 page” auditions can feel like a marathon, so pace yourself and make sure that you capture the character’s journey fully in each scene. Don’t let scenes blend together.

9. Don’t dress in costume. A few weeks ago, at an audition for a Noel Coward play, I saw someone go into the audition room wearing a full ball gown, vintage gloves, and a fur capelet. A hint of character is fine, but avoid the show costume.

10. Don’t get in your head. Your audition is rarely ever going to go perfectly as you prepared. Sometimes the audition room is smaller or bigger than you had imagined. Sometimes the reader isn’t giving you what you had hoped your dream scene partner would provide. Sometimes there is an earthquake that happens in the middle of your audition monologue and you have to evacuate the building (yes, 100% true story). Rather than assessing each moment of your audition as it happens, throw yourself into the moment-to-moment journey that your character is going through.

Most importantly, when in the audition room, focus your attention on achieving your character’s objectives within the text. Play those as fully and as passionately as possible, while bringing your unique talent and interpretation to the audition material.

Put this new knowledge to work at your next audition by browsing our film audition listings!

Tom Morin is a professional actor and NYC-based Acting Coach and Co-Founder of Polish Your Passion, an online-based training company for actors, singers, and dancers across the country. He holds a B.A. in Theatre & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University. He has been teaching for the past 9 years, advising and coaching students through the college preparation process and beyond. His students have been accepted to top BA and BFA programs across the country and have appeared Off Broadway, regionally, and in feature films and national commercials. He has appeared Off Broadway at the Pearl Theatre Company and New York Classical Theatre and regionally at Walnut Street Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Centenary Stage Company, Monomoy Theatre, and Great River Shakespeare Festival.

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.

Tom Morin
Tom Morin is a professional actor and NYC-based acting coach and co-founder of Polish Your Passion, an online-based training company for actors, singers, and dancers across the country via Skype/FaceTime and in-person during NYC-based studio lessons.
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