Over the last few years, I have been to lots and lots of auditions, hoping to land a part in a show. When it comes to auditioning, I've received tons of good advice by talking to the directors whom I've worked with, but it has also helped to experiment on my own and find out what kind of audition is best for me, so if you want to see for yourself what works, go try it!
In this article, I'm going to give you some tips on both choosing the best monologue, and displaying your best work on the day of the audition. I also want to talk a bit about the idea of competition, but I would like to start with the most important thing to keep in mind; be yourself, and have fun!! Auditions can be nerve wracking, especially if you don't have much theatre experience under your belt, but if you enjoy the experience, so will the casting committee.
When I choose an audition piece, I generally look for three things. Is the piece age and gender appropriate for me, does the tone/style of the piece match the show and/or the personality of the character I'm auditioning for, and does the piece allow for a wide range of emotional and physical changes?
Selecting a piece that is age and gender appropriate is important if you want your audition to be high quality. If you are a ten-year-old girl auditioning for Mary Poppins, for example, probably shouldn't chose a monologue for a character such as Bert, because the casting committee wants your audition to help them envision you as a character in the show, and not as an isolated performer reciting a speech. Of course, this is not mandatory, and if you have a piece that is great for your performance style, go for it, regardless of who it was originally performed by.
Another awesome way to help the casting judges envision you in their show is having a piece whose style matches that of the show. Sometimes on an audition notice, it will give a direction like, bring a contemporary monologue. Follow this guideline, but don't think that you can get away with just any contemporary monologue for that audition. Do your research on the show and try to give the judges a performance as similar to the show as possible. One great example of this was my audition for A Christmas Carol almost four years ago. I wanted to play the Ghost of Christmas Past, and I went in with a monologue by Puck from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both characters were magical and mischievous, so I gave the judges an easy connection between the two, and got the part.
The last big thing I want to mention about monologues is probably the most important. Have a wide range of physical and emotional chances and choices. I cannot stress enough how hard it is to see an amateur actor stand up in an audition, and just recite something without moving or going anywhere mentally. To avoid this, look for a monologue where the character experiences some sort of change or shift, like a realization of something. Also, I really enjoy watching and performing pieces that have clear, defined movement in them. If I had to do some of my early auditions over again, I would use the stage so much more. You might be scared to make bold choices and big movements, but remember that the judges have never met you before, and this is your one shot to show them everything you can do.
Now a few words about audition day itself.
First, dress well for the audition. Wear clothes that give an accurate representation of who you are. Also, dress for movement. You never know if you might be asked to dance, or perform a stunt of some sort. Additionally, try to dress in the style of the character you're auditioning for. Even if it's as simple as wearing pink and purple to your Alice in Wonderland audition, you might subconsciously remind the casting judges of the Cheshire Cat.
Second, after you slate (introduce yourself) and begin your monologue, don't look the judges in the eyes. I know this seems really small and kind of an odd tip, but it has a lot of impact. If you get up on the stage, and stare me down the entire time, I will have a hard time taking notes, or remembering the great things about your audition, because I was focused on and intimidated by your eye contact. The best place to look is generally right above the judges' heads, so that they can see your face clearly.
Third, you are auditioning the entire time you are in the facility! From the moment you walk in that door and hand your resume to the person at the desk, to your last goodbye, the casting committee is watching you, so be on your best behavior. While an acting job might appear to just be about the acting, they also want to see if you are punctual, kind and encouraging to other auditioners, and easy to work with.
This leads me to my last point, about competition.
Since next month is my first time behind the casting table, I want every actor auditioning for my show to know this -- YOU ARE NOT COMPETING WITH THE OTHER ACTORS! You are only competing with the vision of the characters in my head. Maybe I want the lead villain to have a certain kind of voice or face, but if you can do better than my imaginary character, you don't have to do better than anyone else. I'm just a casting judge with a problem. Who has the potential to play these roles? I want you to be my solution.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope they help you to ace your auditions, and to have so much fun!
If you have any specific questions about Wylie Acting Group's production of The New Guardians, let me know in the comments, or email me @firstname.lastname@example.org. Can't wait to see your amazing work at auditions!