Knowing how to prepare for an audition is crucial for all actors whether you’re new to the industry or have been acting for many years. Some actors (myself included) often find the character a few weeks into a rehearsal process, but of course there is no formal rehearsal process for auditions and you don’t have a few weeks to make a solid connection to the role. Auditions are a different kettle of fish altogether and can trip many actors up.
I was one of those actors who often tripped up at auditions. I was so desperate to work, the pressure of each audition got to me. I was also basing my talent and place in the industry on the validation of the casting director, which landed me in deep trouble. Do you think I landed roles with this mindset? Of course not!
You should hopefully know what is tripping you up at auditions, but if you don’t here are a couple of things I come across when actors aren’t in peak condition for their auditions, maybe you can relate – nerves, critical thinking (mind monkeys as I call them) and lack of preparation.
Nerves come from wanting to impress, but can also come from critical thinking – “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll not get the role anyway” and lack of preparation can come from many things; not being able to manage time appropriately, not knowing how to prepare effectively, procrastination and overthinking among other things.
One thing’s for sure, if these aren’t addressed, they’re going to pose a big threat to your career, like they did mine. Below I share with you how to prepare for an audition so you can walk into your next one confidently and at ease. These tips have been huge saviours for me and for the actors I coach who’ve used them, my hope is that you will not just read them but put them to use too.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN AUDITION
- Read the full script where possible – I say where possible because you may not get the full script if it is TV or film you’re auditioning for. Certainly for stage auditions you should be reading the full script more than once to get familiar with the given circumstances. For film & TV you should have access to the synopsis, so get very familiar with this and with the scene you have been given to prepare. The more you read, the more you discover.
- Script analyse – I spoke about this in the blog “How to smash cold read auditions“. Script analysis is so important because it helps you uncover all of the clues, so you can begin to cement a connection to the role and the circumstances. Ask why you’re there. why you’re saying these particular words. what they really mean, what you need and where you’ve come from.
- Practise your interview with a friend in the industry – the interview is just as important as the scene. It’s in the interview that the casting director starts to get a sense of who you are and whether you’ll be easy to work with. It’s so important that you don’t beg, aren’t desperate and don’t put the CD on a pedestal. It’s even more important that you are YOU. Going through this with a friend in the industry means you can get honest feedback on how you’re coming across and get all the mistakes out of your system before you get to the real thing.
- Practise relaxation – tension causes nerves. With nerves present, actors are unable to work moment to moment and will ultimately go back to their default setting, which is a survival mode of acting but not necessarily the best technique. Practising relaxation everyday will start to cement this as a habit, so you do it automatically before your audition. This will enable you to unlock your sub-conscious mind, focus and eradicate nerves, so you can work much more in tune with your creative impulses.
- Do something fun before the audition – I used to stress myself out before auditions, whether it be with the lines, connecting to the role or something else, either way it did me no favours. Keep your mind distracted from critical thinking/mind monkeys by doing something fun and being in the present moment. It makes the process so much more enjoyable.
- Research the casting director – it’s so important you’re aware of their previous work. It not only gives you something to talk about (a great way to create a connection) if you find yourself going blank, but it shows you’re up to date with the industry and take your work seriously.
- Research the project and company – for the very same reasons mentioned above.
- Don’t over rehearse – It’s easy to become stuck in a rhythm when you over rehearse an audition piece, but if the CD re-directs you, you run the risk of losing the lines, which will shatter your confidence and belief in what you’re doing. Become VERY familiar with the scene and the outcome your character wants, but do avoid over – rehearsing to avoid those nasty rhythms. You want to be open to the moment.
- Arrive early – Punctuality is so important in our industry. I’ve said it in many other blogs, but time is money. The CD has hired the room out and there may be other staff to pay, running over incurs more costs. On top of that, turning up late is stressful for the actor and doesn’t look good. Aim to arrive 20 minutes early to your audition so you can relax and focus.
- Focus when it’s time to deliver your performance – I see so many actors rushing straight in with their pieces. The problem with this is that it can take time to wind up the belief in the scene. Take a moment before you start to find the focus and belief so you can give it your best shot from the word go, rather than from halfway through the scene.
Audition prep is there to help you be in the present moment. If you still find yourself f-ing up, use Lee Strasberg’s saying that “there is no room for distraction, only potential inspiration” to re-focus yourself and help you hit upon the truth.
Has this helped?
Let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the page, or share with a friend who struggles with auditions.
Here’s to your success!
Don’t give up, just keep learning.
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Louise O’Leary is a professional actress, method acting coach and Artistic Director of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can launch their careers and become the best actor they can be.
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