Auditioning Part One: Getting it ‘Right’

“I just want to make sure I get it right!”

The audition process can be a terrifying experience for most actors, especially those new to the industry or those who haven’t booked a job for a while. Here I hope to alleviate some of that pressure and make auditioning something to enjoy.

Before I delve into this from a creative point of view I think it’s important for me to acknowledge that this issue is as much a human problem as it is an actors’ problem. Unfortunately the fear of getting it ‘right’ comes from a place of insecurity, a need to please and to seek validation from external sources. When you realise that you don’t need the approval of others, your work – and life – will flourish.

In approaching your audition from the point of view of “what do they want?”, you are no longer approaching the material with wonder and curiosity, you’re approaching it from a place of “what can I do so that they will like me” and suddenly your creative process becomes a task of pleasing a stranger, creating stress and anxiety – neither particularly great for auditioning.

One of the main reasons that this way of doing things is completely flawed is because you literally have no idea who you are trying to please – it’s all based on your own assumption “I hope they will like it and cast me.”

Who are “they” anyway? 

It isn’t just one person. The decision will be determined by Casting Assistant, Casting Director, Director, Writer, Producer, Exec Producers. So which “they” are you tailoring your performance for? Whose interpretation of the work are you trying to get “right”? 

Can you see how impossible this all is? It’s madness.

So let’s have a look at getting it right in a healthy way.

Serve the scene

As discussed in my last blog on objectives the character wants something. It is your job to try and achieve that objective, truthfully and with courage, thus pushing the narrative along and creating the illusion of character. 

If you are in line with the character’s objective and your decisions within the scene are in service of that goal then any creative choices you make can’t be wrong on a technical level. It then becomes a question of preference and how the writer/director “sees” the character. Trying to guess that is like having one of those late night conversations on how the world came to be – frustrating and pointless.

Make a bold choice

Now unfortunately there are, in life, always going to be people who make stupid choices and call them bold and, worse still, there are always going to be directors/tutors who tell you to make a bold choice and allow you to make a stupid one and congratulate you for making a tit of yourself in service of your “fearlessness”… But we’ll try and overlook that and actually give some sense to the meaning of a bold choice.

Remember this: the text is doing ONE job. YOU are doing another. If you remember this very simple truth you will more often than not make an interesting choice. 

Any person/actor with an average level of intelligence can interpret a scene and identify what tactics the character is using, eg: provoking, pushing, being direct.

Therefore you can hand that script to anybody (within reason) and have them read it out loud and we will see the character being, on some level, provocative, pushy, direct.

Ask yourself this, if anybody can do it, why would you?

Offer something new to the scene. You can always play the text, playing the text is easy, the work’s already been done for you and if the director wants to see the simple read then trust yourself to give it to them.

(I will elaborate on how to make a bold choice in Part 2 of this series.)

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Seneca

Everything in life is preparation, prepare your script in a way that is in line with the writer’s intention whilst offering something new and I guarantee 9/10 you will have a great audition.

3 Comments

  1. That hit hard Lee!

    “When you realise that you don’t need the approval of others, your work – and life – will flourish.” 100%, everytime I’ve walked in the room trying to guess what they want and trying to be that I’ve left with nothing but regrets…

    Like

  2. I came across this by chance. You write in a very human way and it is very helpful as an actor to envisage both the fear that we all experience and the steady hand you seem to provide in your advice.

    I write my own blog called ‘The Learning Actor’, where I am aiming to create a space for learning and sharing information. And from that perspective the mixture of Stoic philosophy and modern acting experience was fantastic!

    Like

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