Saturday, May 25, 2013

Auditions: Round One (and Tips for Getting the Role)

By Victoria Chatfield (Executive Director)

(Director of Marketing Brandon Burke reviewing actors)

There's nothing more exciting than auditions. This week, we had the privilege of watching some of the Tri-state area's most talented high school performers showcase their monologues at round one of auditions. Students were asked to prepare two one-minute monologues: one dramatic and one comedic. We saw everything from Sally's monologue about the coat hanger sculpture from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown ("Are you willing to share my C?") to Jeff raging against the world in SubUrbia ("It is night on planet earth and I am alive!" -- still waiting for someone to perform "Burger Manifesto Pt. 1" for an audition though). As I watched the first day of auditions, I (along with our Director of Marketing, Brandon Burke, and our Company Manager, Jane Kim) found myself writing down CALLBACK for so many actors. Everyone was so incredibly talented that I couldn't wait to see more from them.

During auditions, we did notice some tips and tricks that we wanted to share with all of you aspiring actors out there:

1. Make sure that your monologues showcase your range. Make sure that your monologues actually are contrasting. We saw actors who had amazing first monologues -- but their second monologues were almost identical to the first. We want to see 1) that you can successfully perform both comedy and drama (plays are never exclusively one or the other, after all), 2) that you can create fully-realized characters onstage, and 3) that you can think outside of your "type." We're looking for actors that are comfortable and confident enough to experiment inside the rehearsal room; that means playing outside of what might be your comfort zone, even during the audition.

2. Choose monologues where your character has to fight for something. Your audience wants to watch a monologue that gets them invested -- that makes them cheer for the protagonist. The reason why the aforementioned coat hanger monologue works is because it's easy to care about Sally and whether or not she's able to talk her way out of getting a C on her art project. Sally has to fight for something; at the end of the monologue, she'll either win or lose. That's what makes the performance entertaining to watch.

3. Don't perform a classical monologue if the play is contemporary. There were many students who performed amazing Shakespearean monologues for their audition. They were great to watch -- but they didn't help us envision the actor in the role of a 21st-century teenage girl. If you know that you're auditioning for a contemporary play, make sure that you choose contemporary monologues. Make it easy for us to visualize casting you in the role!

4. Memorize, memorize, memorize. Sometimes, you get that casting notice the day before the audition. How can you memorize a monologue in only one day? It's really difficult. So start preparing those monologues now so that they're ready to go whenever you get a casting notice. Make sure that you have one comedic contemporary, one dramatic contemporary, one comedic classical, and one dramatic classical. We saw a few actors who had one strong monologue prepared but then they went up on their lines during the second monologue. They were obviously talented -- but it was difficult to fully assess them after only seeing one monologue. And even if you think that you have your monologues memorized, it can be easy to go up on lines when you're feeling nervous at an audition. Record your monologues and listen to them on your iPod. Rehearse your monologues with your friends or your parents. Mentally map out how your character gets from one thought to another. Make sure that you have actions assigned to each of your lines. This will make it easier for you to continue your monologue, even if you forget a line.

5. Make sure that your headshot looks like you. I know that you've heard this one a million times but it's true. We were flipping through headshots and saw a girl that definitely had not auditioned for us that day. When we turned the headshot over to look at the name on her resume, we were shocked to discover that she had indeed auditioned but looked absolutely nothing like her headshot. Directors want to be able to easily flip through headshots and recall your performance. Make it easy for us. Even if you have a photograph of yourself that makes you look like a supermodel, choose the one that looks the most like you do every day. Your future director will thank you!

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