How to make a good impression at an audition
It's the age-old question, isn't it? There'll be blog posts and advice columns all over the internet all giving their answer, using all the wisdom of their years. But it does seem very easy, with twenty years of successful auditions behind you, to provide some tried and tested formula.
But for those of us that are a little younger, or a little less experienced, reading all this invaluable advice can seem to arouse the niggling thought that 'it will be that easy if you've already made it.'
Well, I haven't made it big, and I haven't some insane wealth of experience. I'm simply a young actor who has observed. I've seen the good and I've done the bad, and I still know the terrifying feeling of audition day without the squashy cushion of umpteen previous successes to romanticise the experience. So hopefully I can share my short time in the acting world, and hopefully it'll prove of some use.
I'm going to go for the classic advice-giving format here, but try and bear with me; the three 'P's of making the most of an audition.
Firstly, and arguably most importantly, preparation. It's the one thing that you have complete control over. You very often choose your audition speech, you choose (most of the time) how much sleep you give yourself the night before, what you have for breakfast, what you wear, etc. It all counts on the big day, and ensuring that you're feeling your best and that you know your stuff is the best thing you can do to make the most of your time when it counts.
In terms of speeches, learn it early. Learn the whole play (not every line, of course!). Learn the historical context of the play. There's any number of tasks to do to best prepare your speech, and each will aid your performance and understanding, and more than equip you for those tricky questions that crop up from the more involved casting directors. Always practice your speech in plenty of space, at performance volume and try it out on as many different people as you can, so as to get a varied range of feedback. I, horrifyingly, learnt a 'back-up' speech the day before an audition once, and was mortifyingly told that I had been mispronouncing a word (used about six times) the entire way through -- know your text!
Next is poise. An odd one, you might think, but one that I think makes a significant detail. Now, there will be roles that require a look, an image, and vocal tone, whatever it may be, and as much as it sucks, sometimes that is just the way it is. But on more occasions than you might think, casting teams are very open to being surprised and excited by the prospect of a 'type' they hadn't previously anticipated. And here's where you can give yourself the best chance. Coming across calm and amiable can have a big impact in an audition, and allow directors to see that you are professional and enjoyable to work with, and that you are the 'blank canvas' from which they can envisage their dream actor. So try and put aside the nerves and the shuffles and the babbling (hard as I know it can be) and remember that this is not too dissimilar from any other job interview. A little poise can go a long way.
And finally, have a little pride. There is, of course, a fine line between pride and arrogance – something no casting teams wish to see or work with – and an oversized ego is precisely the trait of the actor everyone hates, but it is nonetheless important to feel happy and comfortable and proud of what you're doing and why your doing it. It ties up nicely with being prepared, and indeed being poised, and so if you have 'swotted up' and mastered the nerves, there is no reason why you shouldn't perform well and have the self-belief that it is good enough. And though you may not be 'what we're looking for this time', keep that pride, and that poise, and that preparation, and it's sure to carry you through to the next big audition.
Keeping the blues at bay are as much an important part of life as a struggling actor as the auditions. Don't let a failure stop you from giving your all to the next casting, stick to the three 'p's, and, believe me, it won't go unnoticed.