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C.6.b  Audition Techniques. 

What can be provided for you here must be couched in terms of suggestions rather than mandates, because you must be a selective you in an audition setting, and you need to find your own means of expressing that factor in imaginative (not necessarily novel) ways.  Generally, apart from seeking appropriate players for their characters, casting directors observing your audition presentation will be looking for four things as follow:

1)     Does this person possess a strong sense of stage presence? 

You need to look as if you belong on the stage.  As in any acting role—usually this is a product of long and careful rehearsal—you need to attract your viewer’s attention and hold it by efficient and purposeful choices.  You must know your material so well that there is never a suggestion of uneasiness.  Your must identify with your material, and want others to do the same.  You must exude confidence in your abilities, filling the stage with your imaginary world and speaking with supported voice and careful enunciation.  Command the performance and the attention of your audience!  But let your command come from honesty and identification with character and lines.  Above all, show confidence that the casting directors want to know you and your work.

Appear as if you have thought your presentation through, which is easiest to do if you have.  When your name is called, move confidently and put on a pleasant demeanor.  If you need furniture, place it with care and don’t fuss with adjusting it.  Don’t drag props into place.  Carry them.  Address your audience in a friendly fashion and, not wasting words on peripheral concerns, name yourself, your audition number if required, the characters and plays you will be quoting if appropriate.  Pause a bit to make the transition from actor to character, take the stage as if you “dwelt” there, pause for a transition back to the actor, perhaps repeat your name, and walk efficiently off, no matter how well you think your audition went.  In brief, you present yourself as yourself, yourself as a confident performer and as a character, and yourself as yourself.  Maintain this efficient manner until you leave the audition building.

2) As a performer your movement choices are of extreme importance in your audition.  Centering your body language and your verbal message so that the two are putting out cooperative cues shows much of your ability in both stage presence and acting.  And, obviously, choosing your character movements illustrates your techniques for sending important artistic cues.

If you have done your work well, the casting director should be able to clearly distinguish between your own movement and the choices you have made for characterization purposes.  This is to be much desired.  Make sure all your characters moves are justified through the given circumstances and emotional actions of the scene.  Incorporate several crosses in the scene to allow the audience to see you move as the character, but be cautious of become too busy in your activity.  This becomes annoying and distracts from your delivery of the language of the scenes.  Move because you can justify it from the material.

Usually a chair will be provided.  It is not a good idea to spend your time addressing an imaginary character seated in the chair, because the audience will automatically focus its attention on that “character” rather than you.  Also, it will force you to tilt your head downward, hiding your expressions from the evaluators.  It is more useful to “place” the imaginary character down stage, between you and your auditors.

Likewise, it is unwise to incorporate movement which requires you to kneel, sit, or lie on the floor.  Not all auditions are made in a raked seating setting, and a flat floor may well take you out of sight if you have several casting directors observing your audition.  Also, moving toward the floor is not a strong action outside of a well-developed plot line (death scenes for instance) and the job of you audition is not to tell a story, but to show off your abilities.

Be sure, as well, that you provide sufficient aesthetic distance between you and the casting director.  Keep this a formal and performance situation.  Professional distance is required.  Drawing too close to the evaluator is the action of an individual, and is not viewable as a performance.  Get overly-close and you enter the other’s personal space, and consideration of you as a performer becomes even more  difficult.

3) You will be making impressions concerning your communication skills as well.  Gen­erally this means that you must pay careful attention to your vocal delivery.  This may well be difficult, since most undergraduate performers do not have extensive training in vocal skills.  However, a few common sense concepts are of enormous help.

·         Project.  That we understand.  Breath support, placement, volume.

·         Enunciate.  Make careful use of your articulators (tongue, lips, teeth, palate) to pro­vide as crystal clear a vocal presentation as possible.

·         Avoid dialects.  You have far too little time to allow your audience’s ear to adjust to the unfamiliar sound of dialects.  Save that for performance.  Only do them if requested in call-backs.

They want to see if you can control yourself on stage, whether you understand the implications of movement, whether you can be heard, and finally:

4) Does this person have any real acting ability?  You are given only a very short time in which to prove it.  Don’t worry too much about it because all casting directors under­stand well the impossibility of the task.

In Summary

It is important for you to make very strong choices about characterization long before coming to the audition.  Choose very clear character movement and line readings.  Find one or two flamboyant character things to do without becoming overly theatrical or self-conscious.  Base these things on very precise character analysis of character as character, not a part of the storyline action.  Actions and possible readings will come almost automati­cally with line-by-line analysis, perhaps enhanced by careful cutting of the extraneous plot-motivated material.  You’re after a coherent character, not a creature of the storyline: a character complete in and of itself.

Complete control of material will free you to focus and concentrate while auditioning.  Stay focused on achieving an objective and you won’t have time to be thinking of your audience response.  Auditioning is distinctive in this way: ordinarily you want to focus on audience response during performance, while in this case you want to achieve complete believability of characterization while not worrying about carrying your audience along with you.

And remember, everyone knows the audition setting is a false theatre setting.  Theatre per se is not the goal, but demonstration of performer and performer acting skills is.  So don’t fuss about being over scrupulous about attempting to show the character as complete.

Next Section: C6c: Selecting Your Material

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