Auditioning 101

Last semester I wrote about how much I enjoyed my experience with being a part of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This semester, LMU is putting on a production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and, although it is a musical and I do not have musical talent, I have somehow found myself in the middle of it! My intention was to work entirely backstage as an assistant stage manager or help with sound or lighting, but when I ended up being cast in the ensemble. It is a very small part and I am always in a group, but I get to be part of another show! I loved my first experience with being on stage and I am hopeful this experience will be just as wonderful.

Although I am far from being an expert, I wanted to write about my experiences with auditions and the process it takes to finally make it on stage!

Before the Audition

The toughest part of the auditioning process for me was what all happens before I even get to audition. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but this stage of the process can make or break your ability to do well during the actual audition.

Research the play

The first thing I must do before even considering auditioning is to see whether or not the play will be a good fit for me. Potential actors will normally know about what play is being produced at least a few weeks before auditions if not even further ahead of time. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the play or musical, let alone if you haven’t even heard of it! If you aren’t into singing like me, you can try to find out if there are any non-singing parts you can try out for.I look for characters I would be interested in auditioning for as I may be asked to audition for a specific character or at least mention who I would like to be cast as.

Choose and memorize a monologue

This step is probably the most fun, but definitely one of the most frustrating!  There is only one rule I have heard from those with much more theater experience than I: don’t choose a monologue from the play from which you are auditioning. You don’t want to seem overeager for a part even if you would do anything to be that character! I always choose a monologue that suits me. It may take a few days to find the perfect monologue, so it’s best to remind yourself to not lose hope.

I personally chose a comedic monologue to make myself feel a little better at auditions. I chose a monologue from God’s Favorite by Neil Simon. I have never read this play, but I researched the gist of my character’s monologue so I’d have some background knowledge to go off of.

The best way to memorize a monologue that I’ve found is to think it through, write it down, and say it out loud so many times until you have it fully committed memory. As a huge fan of psychology, I know that this activates many brain areas and helps you recall the information better when it’s time to show what you’ve got! Think it through when walking to class, write it down when you wake up and before you go to bed, say it to your friends. It can only help!

At the Audition

Prepared monologue

That monologue I’ve spent hours pouring over is going to finally make its debut! The best advice I can give to others is to fake it til you make it with confidence even if you are scared to death. You know your monologue front and back and you’re gonna show that to the director and everyone else! If you are in a bigger room or theatre, look toward the back wall. It will allow you to avoid awkward eye contact. Be loud, but don’t yell. It’s okay if you aren’t sure how to do this quite yet– using your diaphragm– if you are cast, you will be taught how to be loud without straining your voice. Just do your best; you are prepared and you are going to master that monologue!

Go in there and believe you are somebody special, too!

Cold reading

After monologues are done, you may be asked to do a cold reading of a part of the script. A cold reading is just like it sounds- you do it cold! Of course you won’t be expected to memorize what you’re reading; you will be able to read it straight off the paper. This is just to let the director see how you read as a character or two. This is no indicator of what parts you will get– I never read for the parts I was cast in A Midsummer Night’s Dream! You may be in a small group of others who are auditioning if you are reading a group scene. Have fun with this part; it is practically expected for you to not be perfect. You may be asked to read that scene or a particular part a few times over, so don’t worry if the director has you change the way you read a scene a lot!

Scenes will undergo lots of changes before the final product. Have fun with the cold reading!

After the audition

Once auditions are over, you should be told how and when you will be notified of casting and rehearsal dates. If you didn’t get a part, don’t be discouraged! Prepare and try again for the next play that comes along. If you did get a part, congratulations! Have fun while you prepare for opening night and remember to always have fun! Chances are you will look back to the many hours or rehearsing and memorizing lines and find that you really do miss it.

Always remember to have fun!

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to email me or leave a comment on my blog. If you want to see more posts like this one, subscribe to my blog to receive a new post every other Thursday!

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