This blog is to share my own thoughts and personal views on how to prepare for the world of auditioning! Whether it’s for a play, musical or film, a drama school audition or commercial, I believe all of these pieces of advice can help any performer be more informed with the audition process, making you more comfortable and bringing the best performance out of you.
OK so I’m probably going to repeat this a lot so I apologise in advance, but preparation is key! A massive part of any audition falls to how much work you’ve put in beforehand. Most of the time, an audition panel will know if you have come unprepared. So let’s go over a few things.
I was always told that you should always know at least one or two monologues that you can use for auditions. If you have a couple of these in your memory, I promise it can save you so much time.
It’s quite common in theatre auditions to be asked to perform a monologue. This is usually always the case if you are auditioning for an institution or Drama School. I always find looking for new monologues to be a fun task, so enjoy it!
It’s important to note that you should look for a piece that suits your age and typecast, for example, if you look young, you’ll be far more believable playing a teenager or student over something more stereotypically older like a headteacher. Play to your strengths! Also try and find monologues with contrasting styles (comedic, dramatic, modern, classical etc.).
Finally, find a piece that you enjoy performing! This will make life so much easier in terms of learning it and playing with the text. You’ll most likely be using these speeches more than once, so it’s always important to feel enthusiastic when approaching this.
Always try to aim to be off-book for your audition. This can be entirely dependent on the time you have, but even then I would always try to be off-book as much as possible. Some castings have a fast turnover, so you may only have a day or two to prepare. If this is the case then don’t feel pressured if you can’t learn them in time. I’ve found that most people are generally understanding when it comes to actors having a short time to learn a text-heavy script, so don’t let this pressure you; some casting directors or companies will even let you know beforehand that it’s not required to be fully off-book.
If you aren’t required to be off-book then just try your best to familiarise yourself with the lines, so that you’re able to still perform without your eyes constantly being on your script. This is especially important for any tv/film audition as your eyes will play a huge part in showing the emotion of your character.
If you find you have plenty of time to prepare, then that’s great! The line learning begins. A great tip I was told to test my memory would be to go over my lines whilst I was doing something else, this could be something from taking a shower, making a cup of tea, brushing your teeth. If you can nail your lines whilst you’re busy doing something else, you’re in a good spot! At that point you can focus on the important thing, the acting!
Other ways to test yourself would be to have a friend or fellow actor proof read for you, this is also an opportunity to show them what you’ve rehearsed. I hugely encourage doing this, as you will feel all the more confident in the audition if you have already performed to somebody. It removes the edge of feeling like you’re performing it for the first time. It’s also great to have the opinion of a fellow performer, they could even help you discover things in your speech that you may have overlooked, giving you another option or choice if need be!
Give yourself plenty of time to warm up your body/voice, this will make you feel more prepared and ready to perform. I would say always warm up your voice if you will be singing. There are so many great vocal/physical warm up exercises to get you feeling ready to perform.
Be open to change
It’s quite common in an audition that the panel will ask you to perform your speech again but with minor changes, this is a little test to see if you can take notes or direction. So always be open to changing what you’ve rehearsed, it can be very easy to form bad habits or speech patterns when you’re learning lines, so always be open for feedback. If you can change your delivery on the spot, that’s a good sign.
Be on Time
I know this one may sound obvious, but it’s always good to remember that you want to set a good first impression (you only get one!). Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to be, you do not want to give yourself any unnecessary stress by worrying about being late!
Do Your Homework
Let's say you’re being seen for a play. Instead of just reading your audition script (usually a few pages), read the whole play if possible. The same applies if it was a tv show or musical. In most cases they will want to hear your thoughts/opinions, so be ready to answer those questions if need be. Theatre work is very collaborative, so your creative input will be greatly appreciated.
Other options are to check out the company’s website, check out what type of work they make. Have you seen one of their shows before? What did you like about it? This is all good information to bring into the room with you.
Dealing With Nerves
First of all, being nervous is totally ok. I get nervous in auditions all the time, but I think the best way to combat them is through your preparation. Remember all that time you spent learning those lines? Going over them again and again? Multitasking at the same time? Showing it to your friends? This is when it pays off.
Everyone in the room is rooting for you.
I was told this by a director and this calmed my nerves so much. There’s a reason you’re in that room and it’s because they want to potentially work with you! There is already something they like about you, so always look to the positives.
Auditions are known to start the minute you enter the room; the panel will usually want to briefly get to know you before you begin performing. I tend to enjoy this part as you get to know the person who you could potentially be working with! So it’s important that you have a good connection with them. From my experience most people are very welcoming and easy to talk to, so be professional but also be yourself, don’t get caught up in trying to impress. Being nice goes a long way!
As a performer you will encounter may auditions, some you will be successful and sometimes you will hear no. There are so many variables to a performer getting a role that simply aren’t in your control. I can probably say that some of my best auditions were ones where I didn’t get the job.
Does this mean that I did a bad job? Not at all, sometimes you’re just not right for that part. It’s easier said than done, but try to remember that if you did a good audition. You should be happy, the one thing that is actually in your control went really well! It’s a small victory in itself! If someone liked your work, they will most likely remember you for other projects in the future. It’s a great sign.
Most performers want to pursue this career because well, they love to perform! I think a lot of people get so caught up in worrying about auditions that they simply forget to enjoy themselves in the process. See it as an opportunity to do what you love, to have a play around and meet new people. I think it took me a while to understand this, but that switch in mindset I feel makes all the difference: if you come at it with that sense of fun, it’s a much more joyful experience.
Levi is an actor based in Doncaster who graduated from UCLAN (The University of Central Lancashire), and has been working as an actor for around seven years. He has toured the UK on stage with various productions, has performed at Cast, Leeds Playhouse, recorded voiceover work, has appeared in Coronation street, has been cast in commercials with companies such as Fanta, Corsa and TGI Fridays.
Levi is represented by Lime Management
Off-book: To have learnt the lines from the play/scene/script by heart, memorised completely so you don’t have to look at the script.