A well-trained actor is clear on preparing for their audition, brings a certain focus and energy to the room, and shares a personal point of view based on research and materials provided to their read.
These actors are flexible and resilient in their choices because throughout the casting process, adjustments with the script and character may change the vision and description initially provided with the audition materials. The part of the audition where it is most evident how material has been prepared, or where we see how precious you are about your choices is in the redirect.
The redirect, or direction given by casting following your initial read, is an opportunity to collaborate with the audition room. There are as many scenarios as there are casting directors. I will suggest three you may run into, how to adjust them, and why the redirect is so important to your bookings.
It’s Just Nerves
“Let’s try it one more time. No notes.”
This redirect is ambiguous and seemingly hinders the actor. What may have happened is a bobble in the dialog, missing a beat or moment, and/or inconsistent focus. What is seen is an actor who is a good choice for the role, but nerves may be overtaking the read. This person will know what to do if they could just relax. There is no need to ask casting for notes or clarification of what they’d like to see differently. The “one more time” note is simply a request to loosen up following your initial read. You will read it differently and likely closer to what you prepared.
Rephrase the Redirect
“You’re a lot more angry and suffered a great deal, but covering it with a smile.”
You’re being asked to add layers to this particular scene and given specifics to do so. Many will nod and grunt “Uh huh,” and proceed to read it the same way previously delivered. What will help you focus, show the room you have heard what is being asked, and allow your mind and body a moment to absorb the adjustment is to rephrase the redirect. Keep it simple, direct, and conversational. “I’m mad about the years of loss, taking the high road.” If you’re having this kind of dialog with casting you’ve made strong committed choices, and may be right for this particular role or another one in this project. In any case, you’ve made a distinct impression and we want to see more. Resist being subtle about the direction given. Make sure we see it in action.
Resist Holding Tight to Your Choices
“Read it this way, laugh on this line, carry it through to this other line, and then pause after this word.”
This note is annoying because it is purely technical. In casting we sadly do not have time for process. We need results. The strong, well-trained actor will know how to personalize such a note and modify the read to give the room what is required while remaining authentic to their character choices. This note was given to 10 actors as a redirect in order to find the comedy. Nine out of 10 read it their initial way the second time or fell short by not hitting all the notes given. The one who adjusted it the way it was suggested booked it. When actors hold tight to their choices or have a challenge altering or letting go of their choices when asked to try something different, it communicates lack of attention and/or inability to adapt. We often have information that you are not privy to and the adjustment is provided to make you a contender, never to derail or throw you under the bus.
The redirect is gold! Dismiss any thought that it is an attack on your personal character or choices. It allows the decision makers to see your range and flexibility. If handled with grace, it will help you become the choice for that role or another, and will certainly make that casting office want to invite you back for other projects.
Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!
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.