What are the basics in preparing for an audition?

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Answered by: Brendan, An Expert in the Theater - General Category
When preparing for an audition, there are a few key things to have in place:

First, depending on the part you are auditioning for, you want to have two to three pieces ready-one or two contemporary and one classical. Unless the casting call states otherwise, keep your piece one to two minutes in length. Choose material you understand and that excites you, and be sure to type-cast yourself: Your monologue and the part you are trying out for should roughly fit your age and body type (some theater excepted). Additionally, you should be letter perfect with regard to your text. Until you become the next Robert DeNiro or Jack Nicholson, you shouldn't expect to play too much against type or improvise your lines. Further, become comfortable enough with the text that you can put yourself into it and make it your own. While you might have been impressed by how another actor played the same role, the casting director wants to see what you bring to the part.

Preparing for an audition also involves having a song or two ready. This is wise, even if you are not asked for to sing on most of your auditions. The director may be including a scene you are unaware of, You should have the music on hand, or even be ready to accompany yourself instrumentally or with prerecorded music. Find something that showcases your unique talents and run with it!

When you go to the audition, be well rested and have your body's instrument well tuned. This means you should get some exercise, eat very lightly, and have no dairy or cold fluids so your vocal chords will function well. You also will want to have researched the character, read the play or script, read about the company and the production team. Arrive early, as you might need a restroom break. You may have to sign up and wait to be called. Being at the audition site can be stressful. Be aware of your breathing, be relaxed, and be confident, knowing that you have already done everything necessary to prepare. You may go over your lines internally, but refrain from excessive focus on the foundation you have already laid.

In the audition, smile, introduce yourself appropriately. Let the staff know what role(s) you are trying out for. When the time comes, say your name, mention what you are going to read, take a brief moment to compose yourself, and begin. You may block a scene in some cases, but it is generally best to face the "fourth" wall, stand strong and relaxed with your arms at your sides (no pockets), and avoid looking at the casting people. Now is your time to shine!

Finally, if you are asked to read sides, ask a question or two about what they want, and be flexible...if you have trained well, this cold reading exercise should go very well, and you could find yourself with the role you've always dreamed of. If the casting director wants to call you back, or hire you on the spot, terrific!

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