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How to Get Ready for Your Acting Audition
You've got an audition coming up. You're nervous but excited--this is the play, or company, or role, or opportunity you've been waiting for.
As with everything in theater, preparation is absolutely key. If you go into an audition unprepared, the casting director will be able to tell immediately, and if you can't bother to prepare properly for an audition, why should she bother casting you in her show? Preparation does not guarantee a part, but a lack of preparation can just about guarantee no part.
Here are several little things you can do to prepare yourself for the audition to increase your chances of winning the role.
Before Your Audition
Read the audition notice carefully. Different auditions call for different approaches. In addition to being quite sure of the time and location (and how to get there!) of the audition, you have to know what the director running the audition expects. Will you need to prepare one comedic monologue? Will you need a verse and chorus from a show tune and a dramatic monologue to match? Will the audition consist of purely cold readings? Each audition is different and should be treated as its own entity.
Pick the right audition material for you. Unless the audition notice specifically says otherwise, you should NOT pick material directly from the play you're auditioning for. You should pick a piece (or pieces) that show off your strengths as a performer; do NOT pick something just because you like it. It may be out of your range, or may not highlight the qualities you want to present for your audition. You should know your strengths and weaknesses as a performer and audition in a way that highlights the former without bringing attention to the latter.
Pick memorable audition material. Most casting directors ask for audition pieces from full works, not simply stand-alone monologues. That said, there are some that are done again and again and again, and after a while those performances blend together for all directors. Try to find unusual but memorable pieces that will capture the attention of your director.
Know the show. If possible, get a copy of the script you're auditioning for so you can familiarize yourself with the story and the characters. Find out as much as you can before you get in the door; it will help you pick the right audition material.
Memorize. Memorize your monologue. Memorize your monologue in parts, then memorize your monologue as a whole. Memorize your monologue frontwards and backwards. Memorize your monologue word for word. Practice your memorized monologue for audiences and have them give you feedback.
Practice cold reading. Even if a notice does not make note of it, some auditions will require you to do some cold reading from the script. Make sure you're comfortable with this possibility by doing a few cold readings of unfamiliar scripts as practice.
Practice in different locations. Auditions can happen in all sorts of spaces--cold, warm, large, small, echoey, acoustically perfect. In order to prepare for this, practice your piece or pieces in a variety of different spaces so you'll know how to adjust your voice, blocking, and demeanor appropriately.
The Day Of
Get plenty of sleep. This is self-explanatory, but still important.
Drink plenty of water. You'll also want to avoid caffeine, as it can make you quite jittery, and dairy products, as they can coat your vocal chords and keep you from giving your best vocal performance.
Dress appropriately. Consider an audition like a job interview. Business casual is usually considered appropriate for most auditions, unless there is a dance or movement element involved and you'll need more flexible attire. Do not dress in costume, and especially do not dress in costume unrelated to your audition piece. It may be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
Warm up. Do some vocal and physical warming up before you walk into the audition room; not only will it help your performance, it will give you an air of confidence and preparedness that will carry through your audition.
During The Audition
Be professional and polite. As noted earlier, an audition is like a job interview. You should be professional and polite. This doesn't mean you have to keep a cold distance between you and the director, but it does mean you need to remain respectful.
Present your monologue. Introduce yourself, the piece or pieces you'll be performing, and the playwright of each piece. Keep your introduction simple and concise. "Hello, my name is Ruby Teller, and I'll be performing a piece from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller" would be perfectly appropriate.
First impressions are everything. Most casting directors will decide whether they want to see more from you within the first thirty seconds of your audition, including your introduction. You'll want to stick the landing of your monologue, of course, but you can't wait until then to show your best.
Be memorable--in a good way. You won't be cast if the director doesn't know you from Adam once the auditions are over. Make sure you stick out, but don't be obnoxious about it. Rely on your strengths as a performer, not silly gimmicks.
Don't apologize. Ideally, you'll be so well-prepared for your audition that you won't make any mistakes. But if you do, or if something unexpected happens, don't apologize for it. Simply move on. The more time you spend focused on a mistake, the less time you'll have for a memorable audition.
Thank the director. Make sure to say thank you before you head out the door!
After The Audition
Thanks again! Just like with a job interview, a follow-up with the director wouldn't go amiss. If you're a professional, you could consider getting post cards made of your head shot and sending them as a thank you; they serve both to thank and to remind the director just which one you are. If that investment is a little beyond you, you should still find a way to call, write, or email the director thanking him or her for the opportunity.
Callbacks. If you're fortunate enough to win a callback audition, many of the same tips can apply. When the day of the callback arrives, you should dress and style yourself similarly to how you came into the audition. It will help your casting director remember you and put the two performances together in his or her mind. Remember to stay focused and break a leg!