Let's be honest, a huge part of your job as an actor is auditioning. It's why there are so many workshops to help that part of your practice. Your audition technique matters. However, while you may spend time and resources focusing on your audition performance....prepping the sides and making acting choices....have you thought about when your audition actually starts?
It starts the moment you put your hand on the door or cross the threshold. Don't forget that your audition is also a mini job interview….a way to make sure you are a a solid investment for their production dollars....that you will reflect well on the CD......be a good fit for the director and other actors....and that you will be an asset as opposed to a problem on set.
This is why CDs prefer in person auditions as they get to know you. They want to make sure they are making solid recommendations to production.
The first thing they are looking for is that you are okay. Are you managing the pressure joyfully? Or are you making the stress an all-consuming story about you?
How do you handle a false start or a mistake? Do you take it with ease? Do you beat yourself up or over-apologize? How do you recover and get back on track?
How do you take a re-direct? As an opportunity or a judgment?
You see….these are small tests to see if you will be a positive and collaborative member of the team, however short-lived.
If you’re not okay in the room, you’re probably not going to be okay on set.
If you are self-deprecating and full of excuses and drama when you make a mistake, you might need some hand-holding on set….and no one has time for that.
If you can’t take direction or a re-direct….or if you argue your choice in a room, you may not be directable.
What feels like a somewhat brutal and nonsensical right of passage on the actor side of the audition the table, is actually a necessary and incredibly informative process for those behind it.
The decision on whether you are an OPTION happens very quickly….often within moments of stepping over that threshold....quite possibly before you open your mouth to start the work you have prepped. So, how can you make every moment work for you? What are the things to think about that are within your control?
How’s your prep?
In addition to working with the sides, have you researched the project and the possible players in the room? Are you dressed appropriately...not in costume, but with a nod to your character? In other words, are you honoring the time in that room by showing that you are thoughtful, prepared and ready.
Do you look okay?
Take a breath at the door and make sure you step in as a professional. Leave your complaints and worries behind and step in collected and with confidence. You want to show them that you are ready to take on whatever they throw at you that you will be a stable and worthy investment. Do you have a ton going on in your head? Are you having a bad day? Fake it! It is tough to spend a day absorbing the nervous energy of actors all day long. Be an energy influx in their day. Wonder how you can manage your energy? Practice...you do it all the time when in character and it's a big part of stepping into this as a professional.
Do you have a question?
Ask it. Make it a concise and well crafted question. Respect the room AND your need for clarification. Don't apologize. Ask it....heed the answer....move on.
Can you hear their notes and shift your performance?
Practice this! If a casting director gives you a re-direct, can you take the note and make a new and distinguishable choice? I know this sounds like a no brainer, but I find that sometimes we THINK we have made a shift, but it’s not showing up on the other side of the table....it feels big in our bodies, but is not apparent to those watching. Make sure you can really deliver. Think about the notes you've gotten in the past and practice shifting...film it...watch it with a discerning eye.
What if you make a mistake?
Pause, breath and move forward. Understand that if they are taping you, that they will need a pause to edit out your mistake. Don’t apologize….just pause, let them know where you will be taking it from and move forward. Struggle joyfully. That goes a long way to showing how you’ll be on set when things go awry.
Do you leave the room well?
Smile, thank them, say goodbye, and leave. Once your hand is on the doorknob, do not turn around and add anything. Let your work rest, be grateful and get out! Then let your agent know that you had a great audition and start the process of unwrapping and releasing your brain from any ownership of that role. Rest in the knowledge that you booked the room and showed yourself as an OPTION, not just for this role, but for future opportunities.
Remember, the audition is your place of opportunity. A place to show who you are and how awesome you would be to work with. It's not just about the performance or the material. It is a sum of all parts and it starts at the door.