Auditions can be stressful… or exhilarating! Here are some DOs and DON’Ts for approaching this important part of any performer’s life:
DO… Read the audition notice carefully so there are no surprises. Do you have to prepare a monologue? Will you be expected to sing? Dance? Cold read? Do you need to bring a photo?
DO… Understand what the casting team wants. A “two-minute monologue” should be just that (give or take a few seconds). The traditional cutoff between “classical” and “contemporary” for monologues is the year 1900. “Sixteen bars” of a song is usually the length of one chorus, or about 30 seconds.
DO… Choose suitable material for your age and type. Juliet’s monologues are absolutely beautiful, but her mother Lady Capulet is a more appropriate choice if you’re over 30!
DO… Dress nicely and comfortably in something that makes you feel good. Tend toward simple, clean-looking makeup with minimal jewelry. Pull your hair back so the casting team can see your face.
DO… Arrive 10 minutes early and check in. Wait patiently and quietly for your turn. Read a book. Do a Sudoku puzzle. Better yet, go over your lines or music!
DO… Make a point of being the friendliest, most courteous actor in the room. Say “thank you” at every opportunity. Today’s lowly casting assistant may be tomorrow’s director or producer!
DO… Treat other actors respectfully. Give them space to relax and concentrate by avoiding chit chat before the audition; smile and congratulate them afterwards.
DO… Ensure that your paperwork is completely filled out. Bring extra pencils, pens, highlighters, and a cheat sheet with vital statistics (height, shoe size, vocal range, emergency contact, etc.)
DO… Have an idea about your schedule and availability for the rehearsal/performance period. At the very least, be totally honest with the casting team about any potential conflicts (vacations, etc.)
DO… The best you can. Nerves are to be expected; try to channel them into positive energy!
DO… Be ready to take direction and “play around” with your monologue or song by trying it with a different inflection, different blocking, etc. Consider it a chance to show off your skills!
DO… Understand that casting decisions are based on a huge variety of factors, only a few of which are under your control.
DON’T… Choose a monologue or song from the show for which you’re auditioning, unless specifically requested to do so. Not sure how to select an audition piece? One good trick is to find something from another show by the same playwright or composer.
DON’T… Do a monologue or song that you’ve written yourself, unless you’re Tracy Letts.
DON’T… Wear a costume, stage makeup, or fancy hairstyle to an audition. Props are also a no-go unless they are very minimal and absolutely essential (a letter or cell phone, for example). You want the casting team to focus on your acting, not on your cute French maid outfit and matching feather duster!
DON’T… Be late, unprepared, or expect the director to help you warm up.
DON’T… Talk while anyone else is talking or singing!
DON’T… Force the casting team into double duty as your scene partner by making eye contact during your monologue or song. Find a spot on the back wall, just above the director’s head, toward which to focus your energy.
DON’T… Apologize for your performance or make excuses about why you usually do better. The casting team can tell if you have a sore throat and are almost certainly NOT worrying about it, so why draw any unnecessary attention?
DON’T… Criticize or gossip about other actors at an audition. Judgmental behavior is a major red flag and might even get you blacklisted from future productions. Remember: you’re auditioning to work WITH these people!
DON’T… Get frustrated if your audition isn’t perfect. Above all, never direct your own frustration at anyone else in the audition room.
DON’T… Worry if you mess up. Keep going! This is especially true of cold reads and dance auditions.
DON’T… Call or email the director after the audition to see if you’ve been cast. Casting is often a long and arduous process. For an actor, it’s a waiting game. The director has your contact information and WILL be in touch.
DON’T… Get too frustrated if you aren’t chosen for a role. There are plenty of ways to get involved in a theatrical production and plenty of opportunities to shine onstage in the future!