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READ ME before you ask for audition help 
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Broadway Legend
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MaryMag sat in on an audition last night. MaryMag has been doing this more and more lately. She tells her director friends it's because she's an aspiring director and would love to watch them in order to learn about casting, but in all honesty it is because she just wants to observe auditions in order to know how to better audition herself!

Things I noticed last night:
- STRONG CHOICES. The people who did not make strong choices were totally forgotten. We looked at their headshots at the end of the night and we all went, who was she? Nobody remembered and they got thrown into the 'no callback' pile. Have strong opinions about the scene, your character, and the others in the scene. At the very least, have firm, well thought out answers to these q's:
1 - how is your character different from you? (i think finding differences is more challenging than finding similarities...)
2 - how do you feel about character A? character B? how do you behave differently to each of them?
3 - why are you in that scene? what do you want there? you are always trying to do or accomplish something in every scene, figure out what it is

- UNNECESSARY MOVEMENT. Unmotivated movement such as half assed arm gestures that never get above the waist, constantly shifting one's weight, etc, tends to read as nervousness or bad habits. But standing there stone still for 4 minutes is unmemorable as well.

- BEING PHYSICALLY COMFORTABLE IN THE NONEXISTENT SET. The actors who moved the best were the actors who had a clearly imagined idea of where they were, though it was just an audition room lined with mirrors and with the coffee cups and random trash that inevitably accumulates in such shared practice rooms. You could just tell that the good actors had read the scene and imagined what the living room looked like - where the furniture was, that it would be lush victorian velvet arm chairs, etc. THAT allowed them to move around in it comfortably and to avoid both unnecessary movement and unmemorable stillness.

- BE NICE TO THE MONITOR. The first thing we did at the end of the night was to invite the monitor in and ask if anyone was rude. Let me re-state: it was the FIRST thing we did. Be kind and gracious to the monitor. Don't be a diva. And remain quiet while waiting.

- SHOW THEM YOUR FACE. Don't hold your script so low that you have to look so far down that the director can't see you. It's an easy enough fix that will let the directors see you shine.

- TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. Even at a community theater in the middle of nowhere, everyone had kind of a ridiculous amount of training. Not just BA's in theater, but MAs and training in England and agents and blah blah blah. Nowadays everyone's well trained. You're no competition unless you are as well.

- LISTING EVERY SHOW YOU'VE EVER DONE, CREATING A COLLAGE OF PHOTOS OF YOU IN PAST SHOWS, WRITING MISSION STATEMENTS, AND JSUT PUTTING TOGETHER A WHOLE PRESS PACKET FOR AN AUDITION IS NOT NECESSARY. We commented on it after he left, yes, but it didn't change our evaluation of his audition. I actually thought it was pretentious and unprofessional.

- THE ANGER TRAP. It seems like the only thing actors were able to portray last night with real strength was anger. It is a shame. We feel a lot of other emotions even more strongly - embarassment, guilt, joy, fear. Why can actors only get passionate about anger? When in real honest life, it is not at all socially acceptable to get as angry as these actors did and therefore these actors would never actually behave like that in real life, making their actions untruthful. Anyway, try not to fall into the anger trap. It's not our only reaction to conflict. And if you are going to use it, use it sparingly. Balance it with other beat changes and strong emotions. Salt is good yes but we don't want to eat a whole plate of it. Anger can be intense but we don't want to watch it and nothing but it for 4 minutes.

- BEAT CHANGES. Beat changes beat changes beat changes beat changes. Did you get that? Beat changes. Don't do a whole monologue defensive. Find the whole spectrum of motivations and emotions that you feel about whatever you're talking about and let them run free in your monologue. For example, there was a monologue last night where an aristocratic young girl tells a story about getting a poor girl fired from a dress shop. This poor girl ultimately commits suicide. Most actresses read the monologue defensively from beginning to end. And 2 minutes of defensiveness gets boring. I wanted to see the other things this aristocratic girl felt - did she realize her shallowness had lead to something horrible? Did she feel truly sorry? Was she shocked that such a thing had happened? Did she think it was absurd that she was to blame? The answer is YES to all these questions - show ALL these things in a monologue. It will make it interesting. If you show only one thought on the girl's death - well, it's not my fault the low wretch offed herself - that is BORING. And untruthful. We never have our minds made up so completely. And if looks like we do, it's because we're vehemently trying to crush/ignore the other thoughts in our heads.

- WHEN GIVEN DIRECTION, TAKE IT! Many actors were discounted last night because they were given direction and did not take it. They were told, you read very young so please lower your pitch and try to read with more authority, and they changed nothing. At the end of the night, the director would say 'he couldn't take direction' and the picture went into the no callback pile.

- WHEN ASKED TO READ THE SAME SCENE MULTIPLE TIMES WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE, MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES IN EACH READ! Similar to having lots of beat changes. One actress did this very well last night. The first time she read the scene, she was attacking his fiance for his infidelity. The second time, she was deeply wounded by his infidelity. The third time, she was guilt tripping him and passive aggressively making him feel horrible. The fourth time, she showed a calm maturity. The director spent a long time telling the actress what a wonderful job she did with that.


Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:05 am
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^
Thanks for all of the valuable information, MaryMag!


Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:57 pm
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^ Seconded! TYhat was realy useful and informative!

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Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:08 pm
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I miss this thread a lot!



and I MISS YOU MARYMAG.


...we need catch up time.
seriously.

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Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:25 pm
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MaryMag wrote:
A note on smaller theater auds - what do yall think of bringing h/r's to nonprof, smaller theater auds? I'm not some definitive expert on this - but I think at the first theater I volunteered at (a small nonprof theater in the midwest,) folks who brought in h/r's, copies of print ads, copies of reviews, giant press packets, etc, were looked at a certain way. And not necessarily a positive way! I think directors were kind of like, what the hell is this? You do know that we perform in a barn, don't you?

If I were auditioning for a smaller theater in a smaller city, I might hesitate to bring in a headshot. I may just bring in a resume. What do you guys think? I fear that h/r's are overkill at some theaters and may look a little pretentious.


I realize this is a really old post, but I figure I'd answer if anyone needs it for future reference; and also because I happen to live in a smaller town and smaller theatres are all I can audition for at the moment.

About a year ago I auditioned for a gypsy-like community theatre.. one who performs whereever they find a spot to. I was the only one who brought in a Headshot/resume, and it was much easier than having to fill out the form they gave me; they appreciated it. So no, I don't think it looks pretentious, unless you go all out on like a High School audition, haha.


But Question: Is it generally unacceptable to audition with a Shakespearian sonnet?

I wouldn't do it since the sonnets are known to be from a male's perspective, but I had a friend ask me this and I was genuinely stumped.

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Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:20 am
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Well if you're auditioning for a modern play/musical, I would not use a Shakespere monolouge.

Hmm.. It does seem to be a little bit overdone, maybe something fresh and original would be better?

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Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:31 pm
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Not Dead Yet wrote:
But Question: Is it generally unacceptable to audition with a Shakespearian sonnet?

I wouldn't do it since the sonnets are known to be from a male's perspective, but I had a friend ask me this and I was genuinely stumped.


I have no idea, either. I have a friend who casts for a local shakes theater and I'll ask him next time I see him.

But for the time being, I'm gonna just share these thoughts:
1) You should not be auditioning with Shakespeare unless the show is Shakespeare or Moliere or somethin old. If you're at a general audition for a theater's whole season, you should not do a Shakes mono unless that theater ROUTINELY does Shakes or has a Shakes play in it's upcoming season.
2) I wouldn't use a sonnet. I attended an 'auditioning for Shakespeare' master class where 2 monologues were personally selected for us by the teacher. (AWESOME) Point is - NO ONE was given a sonnet. 60 monologues were given out, and killer ones I'd never heard or noticed before, but no sonnets. So I wouldn't. This casting director gave us stuff he'd like to see and it included no sonnets so I'll take that as a no.


Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:49 pm
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If you are in a quick pinch for monologues, here are a few decent (while slightly overdone) ones:
http://www.ubishops.ca/ccc/div/hum/dra/audition.html


Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:53 pm
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MaryMag wrote:
Not Dead Yet wrote:
But Question: Is it generally unacceptable to audition with a Shakespearian sonnet?

I wouldn't do it since the sonnets are known to be from a male's perspective, but I had a friend ask me this and I was genuinely stumped.


I have no idea, either. I have a friend who casts for a local shakes theater and I'll ask him next time I see him.

But for the time being, I'm gonna just share these thoughts:
1) You should not be auditioning with Shakespeare unless the show is Shakespeare or Moliere or somethin old. If you're at a general audition for a theater's whole season, you should not do a Shakes mono unless that theater ROUTINELY does Shakes or has a Shakes play in it's upcoming season.
2) I wouldn't use a sonnet. I attended an 'auditioning for Shakespeare' master class where 2 monologues were personally selected for us by the teacher. (AWESOME) Point is - NO ONE was given a sonnet. 60 monologues were given out, and killer ones I'd never heard or noticed before, but no sonnets. So I wouldn't. This casting director gave us stuff he'd like to see and it included no sonnets so I'll take that as a no.

Don't use a sonnet as an audition piece. I'm taking a Shakespeare acting class right now, and our prof. just said this yesterday. You should always use a monologue over a sonnet, because there is no real character work that can be done with a sonnet.

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Fri Sep 12, 2008 11:54 pm
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Hi, I'm sorry if this has already been asked in this thread, I've read half of it so far and it's really helpful. I wanted to ask if I get through the first part of my audition (the dancing) should I come back for the singing in something a little less casual, like change the top I'm wearing or will it make me unrecogniseable as the same person in the dance audition?

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Sat Sep 20, 2008 5:58 am
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xXAngelofMusicXx wrote:
Hi, I'm sorry if this has already been asked in this thread, I've read half of it so far and it's really helpful. I wanted to ask if I get through the first part of my audition (the dancing) should I come back for the singing in something a little less casual, like change the top I'm wearing or will it make me unrecogniseable as the same person in the dance audition?


I'd suggest wearing as close to the same thing as possible. In big auditions, particularly with companies that don't know you, you just need to be remembered.

But then it's VERY hard to find something that is both flexible enough to dance in yet nice enough to look professional in when you're singing. That's why American Apparel is my friend. All their stuff is a dream to dance in but it's very fashionable and can look awful nice.


Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:42 pm
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How to pick a song that will make directors uncomfortable and NOT want to work with you

Went to a class the other night and the THEME of the night was, "DON'T BE TORTURED."

So, if you want to make directors uncomfortable and make them NOT want to work with you - pick a song where the acting requires you to be tortured or in pain or angry.

If you want to make directors like you and think working with you will be fun - pick a song where the acting requires you to be fun and positive and energetic. OR if you must do that jekyll and hyde ballad that is so sad and dismal - find the hope in it! Reach for the light, don't revel in the pain.

The reasons for this are twofold, in my opinion:
#1 -
Reveling in pain and not struggling to save yourself IS JUST PLAIN BAD ACTING in that it DOES NOT REPLICATE TRUTHFUL HUMAN BEHAVIOR and DOES NOT ENGAGE VIEWERS. Being drunk is the act of trying too hard to walk and talk straight. Being cold is the act of trying to warm yourself up. People are always trying to get back to normalcy and get back to a comfortable state. You can tell a man is scared when he puffs up his chest and clenches his fist and does everything in his power to look tough. You can tell a woman is on the verge of tears when she tries to force herself to laugh. Plus, the audience is drawn to and cannot look away from CONFLICT. If you are not FIGHTING the fear or the pain but giving in to it or reveling in it, the audience will be bored. They want to see you fight it!

#2 -
An audition is a job interview. Yes this is the arts but these directors/professors are still gonna invest a lot of money in you. You are going to be their employee. They want to know if you're gonna have a bad attitude at work or if you're gonna be a positive influence on your peers. They want to know if you're lazy or if you're driven. They want to know if you're gonna wordlessly apologize the whole time you're on stage or if you're gonna be confident. And you have to sell them on what a great employee/person you are in a short introduction and 16bars of singing! So don't pick a song that's gonna undercut all those efforts. Sell yourself! Show them you are fun! Show them you are confident! Show them your good points! You have SUCH a short amount of time in an audition to sell yourself - 60 seconds maybe. Fill that time with your good parts - not your weird uncomfortable parts.


Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:48 am
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