I recently auditioned for the upcoming fall play here at UNA: Six Characters in Search of an Author. Let me tell you, I was terrified! Until now, my only drama experience has been with Shakespeare (I’m something of a Shakespeare nerd), so trying to get cast in a modern play turned my knees into Jell-O.
While the tips listed below are for drama kids, some will apply to other groups. Having a good attitude and showing confidence is a pretty universal A-OK set of tactics, so the broader ideas will apply to more than just drama auditions.
- Do your research. When you go into a job interview, you don’t go unprepared. You learn about the company, their philosophy, history, etc., and it helps you look polished and desirable. The same goes for theater auditions. Learn the author of the play you’re audition for, the main characters and plot, and the context of it. This will also help in other areas, like…
- Cold reading. This is one of the most terrifying aspects of theater auditions. You’re sometimes asked to cold-read, which means that the director hands you a script, tells you the character you’re reading for, and asks you to act it out. You’ve got to make quick decisions about your character, tone, emotion, gestures, and the other essential aspects of acting.
Practice cold reading at home. Since you can’t know what you’ll be asked to read, it’s helpful to pick up random texts – Reader’s Digest, a fashion rag, the ingredients list on a box of oatmeal, a list of instructions – you get the point, and make a split-second decision as to what character you’re playing and what it sounds like. Making a quick decision that’s wrong is often more valued than making a better one but taking forever to do so.
- Be lovely! This is the easiest way to be chosen for “likeable” characters and to appear friendly and outgoing (though there are obvious benefits to this, I find it useful and more socially acceptable to be cheerful and happy regardless of the situation). Smile, make small talk when appropriate, and thank the director for his time in watching you perform you monologue or audition piece.
- And as for that pesky monologue, don’t pick something from a book! Choose a piece from a play you’ve done, watched, and loved, or had some other kind of experience with. Choosing a monologue from a character you don’t know is risky and won’t allow you to show your fullest potential. As football players like to say, “Keep dancing with what brung ya.”
I hope these tips help you to get the part you’re dying for. Have a great weekend!
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