Suggestions for the Best Auditions

1. The audition is your opportunity to perform--not a hurdle or cruel and unusual punishment. Do something you enjoy. This is probably more important than anything else.

2. Directors and casting people are pulling for you to do well. They're on your side. They want to discover new talent because they need it. They also want to see the growth you have made since they last saw you. The audition is a good chance for them to see you in new ways.

3. A prepared piece gives you the advantage over a "cold" script reading because you can choose something that shows you off best. Remember that you, not the plays, are auditioning. A well-done prepared piece can cause a director to change his or her thinking about a role before he or she sees you again.

4. Choosing your audition pieces:

  1. Pieces are usually more successful when they convey a clear want, need or intention by your character. Choose accordingly.
  2. In professional and regional theatres, actors play their own ages. Choose a role that you could conceivably play.
  3. You should not have to set the piece in context by explaining who is talking to whom, etc. If you must explain anything, the piece is probably not a good audition piece.
  4. Most casting people know most plays. Do not waste your audition time by explaining or telling the story of the play.
  5. The piece should not be over-used. A piece that begins, "To be or not to be..." must be performed far better than one from a good but lesser-known play in order to make a positive impression in an audition.
  6. Ask yourself if the piece demands qualities that you can project well. Don't choose a piece said to be a good piece if it doesn't compliment you. You are the important one in the audition.

5. Time:

  1. Time your pieces by doing them several times aloud for someone. You should be aware that directors form an impression of auditioners in the first minute. The second minute is for confirmation. Auditions which run longer than the requested time may be self-indulgent and are therefore not recommended.
  2. If a director needs to see more, he or she will call you back or talk to you.
  3. Most theatres use a stopwatch at auditions. This is done in order to be fair. Without it, the large number of actors who deserve to be seen, couldn't be. Auditions for the University of Iowa Theatre Department are timed. The monitor will sit in a seat fairly close to the stage. He or she will signal when you have 15 seconds remaining, and will say "stop" when your 3 minutes are up. Timing will begin after you say your name and the names of your pieces. If you make a complicated introduction (telling the story of the play, which is not advised), timing will begin during your introduction.

6. Prepare yourself well. Choose and prepare your pieces well ahead of time. Don't try to throw it together at the last minute. You never know what good things may come from proper and full preparation. Give yourself the best chance you can.

  1. Know your material well. Rehearse it thoroughly. It is expected that pieces will be memorized for these auditions. (However, in cases of not auditioning at all versus an audition using a script, an audition with script is preferable.) A well-prepared audition is an indication to the auditioners that you care about your audition and the opportunity it presents. If need be, bring a copy of your pieces with you to the audition, in case you need to refer to it.
  2. Immediately before the audition, while you are waiting your turn, give yourself some time to concentrate and focus on yourself and the intentions of the character you are going to play.
  3. Announce your pieces clearly and simply. For example: "My name is (your name). My pieces are (character's name) from (play title) and (character's name) from (play title). My song is (title) from (title of musical)."
  4. Pause briefly before you begin and again between pieces. Almost everyone is nervous before an audition (just like before any performance). Nerves can help you become more vibrant. Use the extra adrenalin energy to spur you on. Open yourself up to it and it can work for you.
  5. Don't be afraid to be extravagant and enjoy yourself. If you enjoy yourself, the auditioners will too.
  6. When you are finished, thank the auditioners and leave the stage briskly. If someone wants to ask a question, he or she will. Time is precious to the auditioners and the others who are auditioning. Use your time fully, then move on so that others can do so.

7. If you don't feel you audition well, learn how. It is a skill which can be learned and which is indispensable, whether you plan to make acting your career or merely a pastime.

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