Learning the “3 Rs” for a Better Audition
Many actors approach the preparation of their auditions in a haphazard fashion at best. They dive right into learning their lines and thinking about how brilliant they’ll be on opening night instead of creating a structure that allows them the freedom to fully harness their acting skills. Each one of these steps is designed to help you answer the many questions you’ll have, give you some perspective on the role and project, and finally allow you to truly shine when it’s your turn in front of the Director.
Your first order of business is to get your hands on a copy of the play or manuscript and actually read the whole thing carefully! Nothing will ruin your chances for landing a part quicker than being called out by the Director because you don’t know some important character or plot point. As shocking as this may sound, many actors never bother to read the script before they show up for the audition. Their attitude of, “Hey, it’s just an audition. I’ll wing it,” is a recipe for disaster. If it means buying, begging, borrowing or stealing it, get your hands on that script!
Now there will be times when a full copy of the script is not available to give out, as is often the case for film, TV or a new play. If so, ask the casting office if they might have a copy there for you to look at before the day of the audition, and if they do, then take the time to go by and read it.
So you want to do Shakespeare? Then you’d better know exactly what it is you’re saying in the scene. Once again, if you’re trying to wing it, it will show. Do you have a line in a foreign language? Then find out how it’s pronounced. As far as accents are concerned, often the Director will not want you to attempt it as your audition could devolve into just trying to get the accent right. But if you happen to speak that particular accent well, then give it a go.
There are also research issues surrounding the audition that have nothing to with the script. See if you can find out what this particular Director likes and dislikes. A phone to the theatre may help you discover what style the play will be presented in, which may affect your acting choices. Where you will be auditioning (perhaps in a room at the Casting Office) and where the show will be performed (perhaps on the main stage) may also affect your audition preparation.
Constantine Stanislavski, the father of what we call Method Acting, once said, “Through repetition, comes freedom.” Simply put, the more time you spend rehearsing your audition monologue or scene, the freer you will be with your performance on the day of the audition. You should approach your rehearsal time as if you were really cast in that role and not give it a half-hearted effort. Your level of preparation makes a definite statement to the Director as to how hard you are willing to work on the role and in the play.
You’re going to be nervous anyway, and the time you spent rehearsing your material will give you the confidence you’ll need on the day of the audition. Add to that your knowledge of the play, the character, and any other tidbits of information you were able to glean during your research and you will have the makings of a very good audition.