- Smile and have fun! There have been too many occasions where students have come into an audition and apologized or seemed sorry for wasting the director's time before they've even begun their set. The directors WANT you to do well, as weird as that may sound. They're not looking for one girl to be perfect for one part, and another boy to be perfect for another part. Theatre isn't as cookie-cutter as it may seem, though sometimes that's what preliminary decisions in MAJOR casting calls call for. Most of the time, the directors of a show want viable options for actors to work with in a show. If you smile and show that you're a pleasant actor to work with, that leaves an impression on the director whether either of you realize it. Doubting yourself or feeling like a waste of time can actually make yourself a waste of time. If you don't even seem like you want to be there, the director wonders why you've come out for the audition.
- Dress appropriately. If it's a general call with the acting/singing portion first with time to change into dance clothes later, be sure to bring two different outfits. One should be the professional and eye-catching audition outfit that is meant to be a reflection of you. This does not mean showing off any particular assets in an inappropriate manner, this means making yourself as presentable as possible in a way that they'll remember (in a positive way)! Be sure to wear clothes you can move in if they call for it (be it a movement call or dance call). If you're restricted by your clothing, it's VERY evident in body language, and can affect your performance greatly. Dressing comfortably does NOT mean dressing like a slob however, so please be sure to have some regular items in your closet that allow you to move freely while still looking professional. Check the "What to Wear" section below for more details.
- PRACTICE YOUR INTRODUCTION! As scary as it may seem, the auditioners will have made a decision on whether or not to call you back within the first 15 seconds of your audition. Most of those 15 seconds will be taken up by your introduction, so if you stumble over the name of your piece or the composer's name, the first impression they get is that you didn't care enough to practice your intro (or your slate, as some call it) In a musical theatre situation where there is a pianist to talk to about your piece, be sure to smile to the directors as you enter the room, but then approach the pianist. Greet them politely and hand your music binder to them with the sheet music properly notated and ready to go. Some people suggest snapping a tempo to your pianist, but those that I've worked with say that they hate being snapped at. Instead, when suggesting the tempo, gently pat your leg with the timing you want. It's a small difference, but imagine being snapped at by 300 people in a general call. You want to make yourself as appealing as possible, and the way to do that is to be polite to everyone you encounter in the process. After you talk to the pianist (if there is one), confidently enter the acting space. There will generally be some sort of notation on the ground as to where you can stand, and there will almost always be a chair. Always begin with a deep breath and a smile! Then greet them (Hi, Hello, Good morning, etc), say your name, and introduce the pieces you'll be performing. If you're performing a monologue, be sure to state the name of the play it comes from as well as the playwright. If you're performing a piece of music, be sure to introduce it with the show it comes from as well as both the composer AND lyricist (they are frequently separate people). If you're performing multiple pieces (such as two monologues, a monologue and a song, or some other combination), you'll have to make a decision for yourself if you're going to slate them together or if you'll introduce the next piece immediately after your first. After you slate your pieces, make sure to collect yourself. Don't take too long, but give yourself a moment to center yourself and your thoughts and to focus on the audition.
- Thank the people in the room before you leave! After you've finished your audition entirely, give it a moment in case they ask you to stay or if they give you an instruction, and then kindly say thank you to those behind the table. If you brought music and gave it to the pianist, don't forget it before you leave, and don't forget to thank him/her as well!
- Be careful how you act in the waiting room. Some people don't give it a second thought, but you never know who's listening. Some directors will send their stage manager or another capable member of their team out in the waiting room as a plant or as the moderator, and will ask who was rude/mean/aggressive/etc out in the waiting room. If you brag too much, scoff at other auditioners, or show up 15 minutes later than your time slot, the director will probably hear about it somehow. Always be on your best behavior, no matter where you are or what situation you're in. You never know who's listening!
- Time yourself and your audition, including your slate time. You should have this down to an art form and should be within 2-5 seconds of multiple different practices of your audition. Chances are, you will be timed on your performance. Some directors start at the moment you begin speaking, some wait until you begin your first piece AFTER your introduction. You should have practiced this so much that you know you're under time, no matter what happens. If the casting team is seeing a large amount of people and everyone's signed up for a 3-5 minute slot, they don't have time for someone to take liberties on their monologue's time limit. If they ask for a two minute monologue, it better be two minutes or less. You'll be surprised how fast those two minutes go, but make sure to keep it under time! Two minutes is standard, but pay attention to the specific requirements of your audition. If you're unsure, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
- Choose audition pieces that are age appropriate. Unless you look like a twelve year old (and are auditioning for the part of a twelve year old), don't use a monologue or song intended for a young child. Alternatively, don't audition with a monologue of a middle-aged or older adult if you're a student going out for a role of similar age to yourself. You want to prove you can do certain things, but pushing the limits of your age range is not one of them.
- Try to choose material that isn't overdone. There are some "lists" of material that is untouchable, meaning they're overdone or can never be matched because of a certain performer's rendition of the piece, but many directors don't have active lists. What does happen, though, is that actors will come in with a piece that was done five minutes ago. And although that second actor may have found the piece first, practiced it for years, and can completely own that monologue, it may automatically make the director think less of you. This isn't true for all directors, but try to avoid repeating material that other actors may use. You can do a brief search online to find monologues and songs that are considered "overdone" at auditions very easily, and although this isn't a definitively bad thing to do, you should always try to use fresh material that works for you.
- Do NOT mime actions or use props during your audition. Your monologue should be about you, not about the action you're doing during the piece. Props and costumes are extremely frowned upon in audition scenarios.
- Try your best to keep your audition to the defined audition space. Chances are the director and stage manager (and other production members) will be sitting in front of you at a table. This table (and the 5-10 feet in front of it) are the untouchable zone and personal bubble of these people. Do not cross over the "designated" line from audition space to personal space, as it may make the casting team uncomfortable.
- One thing that's frequently argued is whether or not to make eye contact with the casting team during your audition. This is something that, ultimately, will be up to you. Some directors feel a disconnect if they're ignored by actors, but others can feel like they're being stared down if caught in eye contact for too long. We've found that the happy medium is looking anywhere from 6"-12" above the "audience"'s heads during the audition. This way, you aren't breaking the fourth wall, but you're commanding the attention of the casting team by catching them in your peripheral view. DO NOT, by any means, put the person you're talking to offstage right or left. You should focus the audience of your monologue wherever the casting team and table is, unless they directly tell you not to.
- Don't choreograph your monologue or song. Your audition should seem very honest and open, and if you break out into a clearly planned routine or dance combination, it will take the director out of the world of the piece entirely.
- Avoid storytelling in your monologue. Aren't all plays a story, you ask? Well, yes. But your monologue shouldn't be a retelling of something. It should be something where the character is speaking completely off the cuff about an emotion or situation that's actively going on.
What to Wear
What to wear to an audition is always a conundrum... You want to make yourself noticeable, but modestly and appropriately. You want to seem confident, but not give everything away. You want to be comfortable, but still crisp and professional. Your clothing says a lot about you, but also will make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable, and can be a very important part of your audition.
- Ladies: Wear either a dress, blouse/skirt, blouse/pants or some other professional outfit. Dresses are usually the go to for younger women under 40, so pick something age appropriate. You shouldn't show too much of your body (ie a far-too-low neckline or barely-covered hemline), but shouldn't cover it up with layers upon layers of clothing. You're trying to promote yourself as a performer, and part of that package is your body type. Embrace who you are and what you look like, and work with what you have! If you have curves, find a look that works for you. If you're slim, find something that works for you too! Don't feel like you have to cover up "imperfections" in your eyes. The directors don't need to see your body, but they need to have a basic understanding of how you move - by covering yourself up in 15 layers, you may be inhibiting your movement greatly. The same goes for wearing something too revealing. If you can't bend over or sit properly because of the length of your skirt or dress or the depth of your neckline, you need to reconsider. Additionally, footwear is VERY important. Ladies typically wear heels to an audition, but you should make sure you can actually WALK in those heels! If you can't walk around, skip, or jump comfortably in them, they're not the right shoes for an audition. Heels are definitely appropriate for this situation, but if you can't walk in them you're not going to perform very well.
- Gentlemen: Men should usually wear nice pants with a button up shirt and a tie. It's a lot simpler for men than it is for women, but you should definitely still look put together and should be able to move freely. Mens clothing can be a little more difficult however, when it comes to tailoring dress pants to fit properly. Improperly fitting pants are much more obvious on a man's frame, so it's important to make sure your pants fit right! They should have enough give for you to sit/stand/kneel/squat, whatever you need to do in your monologue or song, but shouldn't be baggy. As for footwear, dress shoes are a must. No sneakers and no sandals, please.