In advance of our upcoming auditions for Students, we want to demystify the auditions process and help everyone, particularly those who are new to auditions or curious about the process, understand what happens and how decisions are made. Everyone auditions for things at various points in their lives, and we all have to face the highs of success or the lows of not getting what we want. However it can be easier to deal with some of the frustration at not succeeding if one has a clearer, more realistic idea as to why this might be the case, hence this article.
We also want to offer some practical advice as to how to best prepare for auditions as well as how to make the decision to apply in the first place. Again, there is often a fear that only those who have auditioned extensively in the past have any chance of getting a role, or that others have some sort of mystical, secret knowledge which means they get the roles. We hope to clear some of these issues up in this article.
Finally, we are committed to making our auditions a rewarding and fair experience as best as we can. (Ultimately, of course, there will only be one person who gets the role, and many more people will be rejected. This is the nature of the theatre, for there are always many more good actors than there are good roles.) Moreover, we firmly believe that auditions should not be about intimidating people, or making them feel judged, but instead, a chance to try to see how they respond to a role, to share the material that they have prepared freely and confidently, and to bring the very best out of them in the process. We want auditionees to leave an audition session feeling like they have worked hard, been given every reasonable opportunity to show what they can do, and that they could not have done any better. So this article is also intended to suggest to you how you can play your part in this.
What can I expect at auditions?
Audition formats vary widely:
Some require the auditionee to present a monologue or song to a panel, with noone else in the room. Here the director might just want to see whether, to their mind, you 'fit' the role or not, as well as how you work under pressure.
Some will ask you to work with one other person as you present your speech or a piece of dialogue. This person might be another auditionee, or perhaps another actor, or a member of the panel. Here, they will be exploring both whether you fit the role, as well as how flexible and responsive you are when working with others.
They may also be asking you to work with another actor that they have in mind for the role, to see if you look right together. For example, it is a sad reality that audiences may find it difficult to believe in a 5ft Romeo with a 6ft Juliet!
Some will take the form of a workshop, where the emphasis is on asking you to do different things. Here they might be wanting to see how you work in an environment similar to the rehearsal room, they might be trying to give you a greater insight into the play so that you can make a stronger connection to the work. They also might be trying to see how you engage with others, for casting as well as for working purposes. They might also just find this way of auditioning suits their own skills and observational abilities better, giving them more time to watch you.
How do I prepare for auditions?
Here are some very simple tips:
• If you have to prepare some text and know it off by heart, do it thoroughly. In the audition you want to be focusing on the character and what they are saying and doing, rather than being the actor desperately trying to remember their words. The audition room will be different to your bedroom, so try performing your speech in different locations. The director will want to know that you are reliable if they are going to trust you with the responsibility of a role in the production.
• Engage imaginatively with what the character is saying and why they are saying it. Remember that they are speaking to someone else, so engage with about what you want them to understand. Even if the character is speaking to themselves, they are still doing for a reason, so try to engage with what you think that might be.
• Whispering the words to yourself often allows you to hear what you are saying in a very direct, honest way. Doing this might allow you to hear things in the speech that you hadn't noticed before.
• To make sure you have learned it fully and deeply, do other activities whilst speaking the speech. The more you do this, the sturdier your learning of the speech. Also, quite often this will encourage you, unconsciously, to say it in different ways. This will be helpful in making you more confident, especially if a director is likely to ask you to do it differently.
• Finally, and vitally, the answers to many questions about the speech will be in the play itself. Find out ALL the simple facts about your character, and make sure you have an understanding of what has recently happened to them and what is happening to them at this point in the play. If you don't know, not only will it be very difficult to perform the speech with any sense of integrity or accuracy, but you will feel silly if a director asks you about the character you are playing and you can’t answer.
How do you cast a production?
Overall, a director is usually trying to find someone who is most immediately 'naturally' suited to the role. I say ‘immediately’ because, although actors are often capable of great transformation, the reality of limited rehearsal time means that one is often looking for the actor who, in auditions, gets closest to the way the director understands the character.
The simple truth about auditions is that most people are rejected because they are not the most 'right' person for the role. Other factors might be a lack of experience, a lack of security in performance, a sense that the auditionee hasn't shown enough of themselves despite opportunities, not responding clearly to direction, a sense that the auditionee might not have understood who their character is or why they are saying what they are saying, a lack of chemistry with other actors, a difficulty in processing instructions clearly.... As you can see, it is therefore unlikely that the reason for rejection will be 'lack of talent' or
'lack of innate ability'.
How do I know if I should audition or not?
At Simply Theatre we would be putting ourselves in an invidious position if we began to suggest to particular individuals that they should audition. This would immediately create favouritism, false hopes and resentment. Moreover, we insist that we run an open door auditions process, and therefore invite anyone who believes they have the commitment, the energy, the passion and the determination to engage fully with a sustained and challenging rehearsal process, to audition for one of our productions. If you have a keen hunger and are prepared to put the work in, then go for it! That said, if you have had a few auditions now without success, it might be a good idea to have a conversation with a SImply Theatre staff member who can advise on whether they think the next production suitable or not.
Tips for the big day…
• Be confident and try to enjoy the audition as much as possible- remember the team will be there to help and support you, not to judge you!
• Arrive with plenty of time to spare so that you do not add to your nerves.
• Warm yourself up in advance both physically and vocally using exercises you will have used in Academy classes to help warm up the voice and body. If you are short on time, you can easily do vocal warm-ups in the car on the way there!
• Good preparation in advance of your audition is key to helping you feel calm and confident on the day. Giving you the best chance of showing yourself off to the best of your ability.
• It is advisable to learn the pieces of script if possible, again to be able to perform it fully and confidently.
• Arrive in comfortable clothing (no skirts as they hinder movement) that is easy to move around in for the dance audition. No jewellery please.
• Students with long hair should ensure they have their hair tied back.
• Try to enjoy the audition and use it as a fun, learning experience.
• Do not make the mistake of believing that you have a part before you do! Building yourself up too much can lead to disappointment.
• Go into the audition with an open mind, looking at it as an opportunity and new experience from which you will learn.
• Do not worry if something goes wrong in the audition. The audition team is there to see the potential not to see a finished, polished routine.
• Presentation is important. Ensure that even if you feel nervous and everything goes wrong, you smile, project your voice and try to come across as enthusiastically and confidently as possible.