Best Practices for a Good Audition
Auditioning can be difficult and nerve-racking. These guidelines should help you relax and put your best foot forward, and maybe even have fun!
Filling Our Your Audition Form:
Print clearly and fill it out as completely as possible. If you have a theatrical resume, bring it along and attach it to the audition form. Make sure your contact phone number has the times we can call you (i.e. how late in the evening) listed next to it.
Arrive to the audition with a note that shows all of your M-F day and evening scheduling conflicts. Make sure you know when the performances dates are and that you have the weekend prior to those dates free as well. Write your conflicts on the sheet or attach your note.
It is frustrating for directors to cast people and find out afterwards that they have "softball every Tuesday night" or "can't come to the tech rehearsals" and it wasn't on their audition sheet. It is also grounds for re-casting.
Indicating What Roles You'll Take
Please think seriously about what roles you'll be happy with and be honest on your audition form. It is particularly aggravating to cast an entire show and have someone who said they'd take any role, turn down a smaller role or a chorus opportunity that another actor (who perhaps wasn't cast) would have loved.
Note: Limiting your availability to only 1 or 2 roles will not hurt your chances of being cast in those roles, however you should also be extra-prepared not to be cast if you have made this choice. You may, at any time during the audition, change your availability.
What to Wear?
Wear plain clothes that you can move in
The first thing to do is check the audition posting. Sometimes they will give you specific instructions, if not, you should dress casually in clothes that are easy to move in and do not detract from the audition. You want the casting committee to watch your acting, not read your funny tee-shirt.
It is not required, but you may wish to to dress in something that would give the audition committee some idea of how you would look in the part that you'd like. For example, if you are going for a part in the play or musical Little Women, it would be unwise to wear a leather biker jacket and spike heel boots.
Dress conservatively - don't wear anything that will embarrass the committee or your fellow actors. We don't want to have to constantly avert our eyes from shirts and shorts that reveal too much; and if it's a family theatre show, we may even ask you to go home and change.
Wear flat shoes
A simple pair of rubber-soled sneakers or dance flats is all you need. You can comfortably move in them and you will not damage any stage floors. Never wear high heels, sandals, crocs, or big clompy boots for an audition unless the character you are trying out for would definitely wear them.
You are Always Being Assessed:
The audition starts from the moment you enter the building, so try to present yourself as professional and cooperative at all times. An audition isn't solely about your acting ability; it’s also about the way you conduct yourself. The committee will be looking to see if you are the sort of personality that would fit their cast as a whole.
If you are loud, bossy, not paying attention, or are continually on your phone or other device, or refuse to do something that is asked of you while auditioning (i.e. people who audition for a musical and refuse to sing in front of the group) you probably won't get cast.
If you are physically unable to do something that is asked of you at auditions, please let the committee know on your audition sheet or as soon as you realize that you will not be able to accomplish a certain task, so the auditors can make special accommodations for you.
There are a couple of ways the committee may choose to run auditions. Open or closed. In an open audition, everyone sits in the auditorium and the auditionees are called up by name or according to the number on their form. All readings and singing are done in front of the entire group. CPP does most if its auditions this way.
In a closed audition you will be called into a private room to audition in front of the panel. In both cases, the components of your audition will not change, you will read from the script and sing/dance (if it's a musical.)
Some auditions will conduct callbacks after the initial auditions. Callbacks are generally used to determine leads; not all shows will conduct callbacks. Callbacks are by invitation only. Please note, if you are not called back, it does not mean you have not been cast or that you have not been given a featured role, it just means the audition committee has seen everything it needs to see from you at the regular auditions.
Most auditions run for two nights, you do not need to attend both nights unless you feel strongly that the committee hasn't seen your best or hasn't read you in a part for which you wish to be considered. If you attend the second night, you likely will not be asked to read until all new people have had a chance to read/sing.
FOR MUSICALS: Introduce Yourself before You Sing
If you are singing a prepared piece of music, don’t start your audition without first introducing yourself. Although the committee will probably know who you are, it’s good practice to reiterate the information because it prepares them for what they are about to see and focuses them on your audition.
You simply need to say something along the lines of “Hello, my name is <insert your name here> and today I’m singing <Song name> from <author or musical.>” When you are done, make eye contact with the panel and say “Thank you.”
You do not need to sing a whole song, prepare 2-3 minutes that shows your range and gives the same feeling as the musical for which you are auditioning. If the song is longer than that, you may be asked to stop before it is completed. This is not a commentary on your abilities, it is simply necessary to hear all auditionees.
Take a Moment
Create a strong opening moment just before your audition, and hold it for a split-second before beginning. The committee will be looking to see how your physicality changes to suit your piece, so be sure to demonstrate good characterization in your opening moment.
Make an Impression!
The casting crew will make most of their judgments about you in the first 10-20 seconds of your performance. After this, they will be looking to see if you can sustain your performance. If you are reading with a group, do what you can to engage the other members of the group in order to make yourself more interesting and believable.
Don't Use Props
It’s best not to use any props, the audition is about you and your ability, not a hand prop or a chair.
Know the Play/Musical
If you can get a chance to read the play or musical, read it. If you can watch a copy of it on tape, watch it (be careful to not watch movies that are not faithful to the script.) If you can't do any of these things, research it on the Internet, if it's a musical go to the licensing agency website and listen to the music samples and read the plot descriptor. Those who are best prepared have the best audition.
Reading vs Memorized Pieces
If you are going to an audition that indicates "actors will be asked to read from the script," then you do not need to have any material memorized. In fact, it is best that you don't. The director would like to know they have a clean slate with the actors they are choosing and won't have to work at un-learning any choices the actor has memorized prior to the auditions.
In community theatre you will very seldom be asked to bring in a memorized monologue. This type of audition is more typical with actors that are auditioning for a company role or for an entire season, such as summer stock.
Accepting a Role
If your are called or are sent an email offering you a role, simply respond by thanking the auditors and indicating if you accept the role. Please don't ask who else has been cast; the committee cannot release this information until all roles are accepted. The entire cast will be posted on the website when it is final.
If you have accepted a role that wasn't your first choice, please be gracious. It is annoying to see someone arrive at rehearsals with a bad attitude because they thought they should have been cast as the lead when they have been given a supporting role. Being in a show is a team effort, and you have been given the privilege of being asked to be on the team, be grateful for the opportunity.
Dealing with Rejection
Everyone who tries out for enough plays at some point has to deal with rejection. If you take rejection with a smile and remain polite and positive, the casting committee would be more willing to cast you for a future project. If you are defensive and aggressive, they’ll remember that too.
You are welcome to ask the auditors if there was any way you could have improved upon your audition. These tips can come in handy for future auditions. Please don't badger the audition committee with questions though, this won't change their decision and it may make them hesitant to cast you in future productions.
If you are responding to a casting decision via email, think twice before you send a scathing response...your bad attitude in writing is the most permanent. If it's too late and you already hit send, an apology goes a long way.
Remember, just because you didn't get cast, it doesn't mean you are not talented, it just means there was someone else who was more suited to that role, this time. Oftentimes you are not cast simply because there was someone else at auditions that fit the description of the role that the director has in their head better then you did.
One of the best pieces of advice I got while taking auditioning classes in Chicago was that you shouldn't focus how you look, or how you sound, or if you didn't read enough or if you wish you had read a different part - why you didn't get cast is probably something beyond your control. The Chicago casting director said that "maybe you are a chair, and they're looking or a table." But maybe next time they'll be looking for a table - they'll be looking for YOU and you'll be perfect!
There will be other plays, so keep trying.
Also, consider working backstage! There's valuable experience to be gained working on the crew.