Auditions might be the worst thing about theatre. I speak for myself as an actor, a director, a theatre spouse, and a theatre mom. I hate them. But for better or worse they are the system we have and they’re not going away anytime soon. So let’s make the best of it.
If you put your best foot forward in the audition room you can walk away proud regardless of how casting turns out.
Here are 5 ways you can do just that.
1. Pick good material
Before you know which theatre is doing what shows, before the auditions are scheduled, before you start dreaming and planning for the season ahead, pick a couple of songs and monologues that showcase the best of you.
It’s easy to get in your head about what songs are overdone or underdone. You can go crazy trying to think like the casting director, crafting the perfect pieces that might make them see you in a particular role. Stop it! Don’t worry about how they’re thinking! Build an audition book – a variety of material you can choose from that makes you look amazing, and feel awesome. Let that confidence and excitement spill out into your work. That is what they will remember about you long after your minute and 30 seconds is finished.
I’ve heard it said that the audition is the one place where the actor has total artistic control over the performance. Whether or not that’s actually true, you do have a lot of choice over what you bring into that room and practice really does pay off. Don’t just be familiar with your material. Get the words, the notes, the steps in your head, your heart, and your body. Study the story in your monologue as much as you memorize the lines. Then grab some friends or family members, sit them down at a table and practice your audition as if it were the real deal. Put your work in front of some actual eyeballs so you can get used to the nerves and adrenaline that come with performing for a small audience in an enclosed space.
Once you know when the audition is, take time to think through and plan out the logistics. Where is it? When is it? Will there be traffic? How much time should I give myself to get there (err on early!)? Check and double check the audition notice or website. What do they want you to bring? If the auditioner asks for 16 bars or a pop song sung acappella – be prepared for that! Show them your professionalism by following directions. Think about what you’re going to wear and when you’re going to eat. As much as humanly possible, think through the upcoming months and conflicts you may have. Obviously you can't foresee everything, but be upfront about what you can.
Keep an audition log. A great audition is 90% networking (that's not an actual statistic, just my feelings). Truthfully, the audition is not just the moment you have standing in front of the director. Everything from the way you communicate with the stage manager to your conduct in the last rehearsal process is a part of your reputation as a theatre artist. All the world is a stage so always be the person with integrity and respect. Approaching your auditions the same way you would any other job will help you give your work the attention it requires and deserves.
5. Pray – do everything for God’s glory
When the Bible says God will grant you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), I don’t think it means you’ll get cast as the lead in the next show. He’s not backstage pulling strings, divinely ordaining your top billing. Not because He doesn’t care about the roles we play, but because He thinks about things we can’t even begin to understand. His ways are not our ways - they are much, much better! (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Prayer is about aligning our will with His. Acknowledging our desire to serve Him. Asking Him how He wants to use you in this moment. God's heart is reconciliation. He takes our choices and the circumstances that surround us and uses them to accomplish His purposes.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
There is so much that goes into a casting decision. So much that you have no control over. But you can put your best foot forward. You can make an effort, put in the work, and walk out of your audition feeling good about the job you did.