So you want to be an actor: Auditions & Interviews

Whether it's an audition for drama school or a production, the following pointers are worth bearing in mind. (N.B. Drama schools usually charge an audition fee of around £30-£40.)

Preparation really helps in building confidence. Learn your lines, practice the piece again and again until you know the words backwards and inhabit the character instinctively. It's difficult to over emphasise how much familiarity with your material can help build confidence and ultimately deliver a good performance. Under-preparing can have disastrous consequences. Not only will it make you look unprofessional, but if you go into the audition knowing you've not prepared then you may very well find your mouth drying and the words disappearing while the casting director is looking on and, it not shaking their head, then wondering why you're wasting their time. Practise in front of your friends - in a lot of cases, you may think you have learned a monologue, but as soon as you are in that audition, you have so many distractions that it's easy to forget your lines. Practice might not make perfect but it will sure go a long way!

Often you'll be expected to have prepared two contrasting pieces (of about 2 - 3 minutes each) to show your range. You may have been given some guidance beforehand indicating the style of piece to perform, or you may have a shortlist of speeches / scenes from which you can pick. If you have free range to choose the piece(s) then choose something with which you're familiar - a scene or speech you can contextualise and a character you know and care about. You may also be asked to sight-read a scene or monologue.

You're bound to be nervous (most people will be) but try and remain relaxed and confident. The people you'll be performing to are not your enemies, they're human beings and they';; appreciate that auditions are a nerve-racking experience. Make your nerves and energy work for you, harnessing and utilising them to focus on your performance. You may have your own techniques for steadying the nerves such as mental imagery or breathing patterns. Be punctual, introduce yourself clearly, make eye contact and be yourself. You should be well-presented (there are ways of dressing appropriately for a part, in such a way as to chime with what you think the character might wear, but unless it's been specifically requested, which is unusual, you should turn up as yourself rather that in costume). First impressions count and are difficult to overturn.

If you're unsure whether or not to address your monologue to the panel or to a spot on the wall, the best thing to do is to ask! Some people hate when you address a monologue to them, others don't mind, the key is to determine which they would prefer before you start. If they tell you not to address the monologue to them, then pick a spot on the wall, a little above their heads. Take a couple of seconds to gather yourself before you start. When you finish your monologue, don't say "that's it!", don't apologize (even if you feel like you need to!) and don't make excuses, just take a second or two to pause and the panel ought to know when you have finished... Let them break the silence if you want.

While directors may have pre-conceived notions of what they're looking for, or the part may demand certain physical characteristics, there are numerous examples of actors going into an audition and successfully making a part their own with their own unique performance.

While directors may have pre-conceived notions of what they're looking for, or the part may demand certain physical characteristics, there are numerous examples of actors going into an audition and successfully making a part their own with their own unique performance.

Interviews

Do your background research in preparation for an interview. Find out about the director and as much as you can about the production. Consider other productions the director has undertaken and actors they have worked with. Have they a particular style? What do you think the character is like? Prepare yourself for any common questions such as Why do you think you're right for the role? Talk about the play or the script if you have read it. Show your enthusiasm and keenness and don't be shy about asking any questions you may have. The interview is a two way process, providing an opportunity for you to find out more as well as for the director / tutor to assess you.

Rejection

Being considered for a part, auditioning and then not getting the part is a fact of life for an actor. Rejection is inevitable. This can be painful, especially if you were particularly set on a part for which you thought you were perfect and / or after a string of rejections. Unfortunately it's an inevitable part of the job and something you'll have to get used to (unless your star is in the ascendancy from Day One and stays in the collective firmament). You certainly won't be alone in being rejected, so you're in good company. It helps to think of it not as rejection, which can cement a negative perception, rather to think of it along the lines of I wasn't chosen this time... roll on next time.... The reason you weren't chosen may not be to do with your audition; it could be that you weren't what the director had in their mind's eye or that somebody else was absolutely ideal and shone out. Attending auditions - including those for which you don't get the part - help to get your name and face out there and may lead to future recalls and auditions.

Are you an agency? Do you involve yourselves in contract negotiation?Casting Call Pro is not an agency, we don't negotiate contracts or collect fees. For advice in these matters please contact your agent or the UK actor's union, Equity

Useful linksAn The NCDT's Applicant's Guide to Auditioning and Interviewing at Dance and Drama Schools (pdf format).Additional reading

  • Actor's Guide to Auditions & Interviews, Margo Annett, A & C Black, 2004
  • Being an Actor, Simon Callow, Picador USA, August 2003
  • Other People's Shoes, Harriet Walter, Nick Hern Books, 2003
  • The Complete About Acting, Peter Barkworth, Methuen Drama, 2001
  • Careers In The Theatre, Jean Richardson, Kogan Page, 1998
  • Teach yourself Acting, Ellis Jones, Hodder & Stoughton Educational Division, 1998
  • The Stanislavski System: The Professional Training of an Actor, Sonia Moore, Penguin USA, 1984
  • An Actor's Guide to Getting Work, Simon Dunmore, A&C Black, 4th Edition 2004
  • First Steps Towards An Acting Career, Nigel Rideout, A&C Black, 1996
  • Contacts, Spotlight, available from The Spotlight, 7 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7RJ Tel: 020-7437 7631
  • The Stage, weekly from newsagents or subscribe www.thestage.co.ukMore information: The Actor's Handbook 2006/7