Auditioning for any part means that youâ€™ll be up against loads of other actors who match your casting. This means that for casting directors, big auditions can end up being like a parade of clones, as hundreds of physically similar actors are crammed into an 8 hour day of auditions. Casting directors are only human, and so it is inevitable that in big auditions, actors will be forgotten and lost in the mix.
So, what steps can you take to make sure that you really stand-out and donâ€™t get lost in the crowd in your next big audition?
1. READ, STUDY, REPEAT
If the play you are auditioning for has already been published, make sure you get your hands on it and read it back to front.
An awareness of the overriding themes and motifs in the piece you are auditioning for will mean that if and when you need to do â€śsidesâ€ť, your knowledge of the play will inform the decisions you make and how you will perform.
It will also demonstrate to the people who are casting the play that you are motivated and eager for the part and, more importantly, that you can independently understand and analyze texts and contribute artistically to the production.
2. AN AUDITION IS NEVER JUST FOR ONE PART
When auditioning for any show, remember that the impression you make on the people in that room might lead to other work in the future.
Even if you arenâ€™t picked up for the role or production which you are auditioning for, just getting seen and meeting the people in that room might pay dividends months down the line if they think you suit another part in another production they are involved in.
Over the course of your career, chances are that your agent will put you up for shows that you arenâ€™t interested in, or know that you canâ€™t do. Donâ€™t see these auditions as a waste of time, see them as a great opportunity to build new connections and vastly improve your chances of getting future work.
Never, ever, go into an audition with a bad mood or any air of apathy, as you never know when you might run into that casting director again. This is also why it is important that youâ€¦
3. KNOW WHO YOU’RE AUDITIONING FOR
Always make sure that you do your best to find out exactly who youâ€™ll be auditioning in-front of. Often, this kind of information will be included in casting calls, but if itâ€™s not, your agent might be able to give you this info.
By finding out who youâ€™ll be auditioning for, you can research who they are and what theyâ€™ve done and therefore make a much better connection with them.
Just the fact that you took the time to really do your homework will make a lasting impression, and passing insightful comments on their past works will present you as an artistic equal: someone who will be able to meaningfully contribute to the creative process of the project. 9 times out of 10, directors are actively looking to work with people like this.
4. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
A casting directorâ€™s job is to imagine how you as an actor can inhabit the role of the character you are auditioning for. This should all come down to your ability to convincingly portray the motivations, emotions and sub-text of the character, more than your ability to dress like the character. After-all, isnâ€™t that the costume departmentâ€™s job?
However, that doesnâ€™t mean that you shouldnâ€™t go out of your way to make it that little bit easier for the casting director to see how you would suit the role. Too many actors turn up to castings dressed completely inappropriately for the part they are reading for.
How you appear and the costume you wear can be a huge part of the character you are portraying. Try and imagine Don Draper delivering some of his most iconic lines dressed in a pair of hot pants and a tank top. It just doesnâ€™t work does it?
So, put some thought into the kind of thing your character would wear. That said, some actors take this too far and literally dress up as their characters. I remember one memorable story about an actor auditioning for a role as a doctor and turning up in a lab coat with a stethoscope.
Donâ€™t take it this far, just wear something that hints at the sort of character you will be playing. Are they professional or casual? Smart or scruffy? Trendy or nerdy?
As an added bonus, wearing an outfit will also help you get into character and more convincingly play the part you are auditioning for.
5. CHOOSE A MONOLOGUE WHICH STANDS OUT
Whilst itâ€™s great to be ambitious, too many actors choose to perform â€śclassicâ€ť monologues as their audition pieces. The problem with doing this isnâ€™t just that you are automatically comparing yourself to all the great actors who have performed that part in the past, but itâ€™s quite likely that youâ€™ll be comparing yourself to all your fellow auditionees who have also chosen that monologue!
The problem with â€śclassicâ€ť monologues is that there arenâ€™t that many to go around (if there were, they wouldnâ€™t be classics!) As a result, the same monologues tend to pop up time and time again in auditions, and quickly become a yawnsome clichĂ© for anyone involved in the casting process.
Choose something unique for your audition pieces and look for things that actively reflect the kind of parts you want to play and the kind of castings you get put up for.
6. TAKE DIRECTION WELL
Receiving notes on your performances is fairly common when auditioning, and it is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate that you will be professional and easy to work with.
The ability to take on notes and transform them into a greatly altered performance is a fundamental skill which actors should have. However, a significant amount of actors take direction terribly, getting defensive and questioning the directorâ€™s vision.
Even during auditions some actors behave like this. Donâ€™t be that guy/girl. Be receptive to feedback and do your best to show them that you are adaptable and directable when you need to be.
7. GET GOOD AT COLD READING
Everybody hates cold readings, and nothing will make an actorâ€™s heart sink faster than seeing that they have to do it in an audition.
However, the ability to shine during a cold reading will really make you stand out from the competition, and demonstrate your abilities to act spontaneously and imaginatively. The ability to do well in cold readings will develop over time as you do more of them and attend more auditions, but fortunately, there is a short cut too!
Unlike performing a monologue, when you know the sub-text, stakes and motivations behind your performance, cold-readings are entirely dependent on responsiveness and authenticity. Focus completely on making sure that your reactions and actions are as authentic as possible by concentrating on how your scene partner is behaving and use their actions to inform your own.
Most actors use themselves and their emotions as their centre points when acting, but during cold readings this is counter-productive as you donâ€™t understand the context of the scene youâ€™re reading. Anchoring yourself in one state or emotion will result in a stale, disingenuous performance.
Agility and adaptability are the skills that are really needed to excel in cold reading, and the only way to achieve this is by using your scene partnerâ€™s behavior as your anchor, so that the cold reading moves along with fluidity and believability.
If you want to learn more about how becoming a more responsive actor can help you ace more auditions and get more call backs, be sure to check out our London acting classes.