C.6.c Selecting your material.
At the beginning of this brief
discussion, it’s important to
underline the assertion that you
are not creating a story-driven experience of theatre in your audition. So the material you choose
strongly to character or theme rather than plot.
Story details can be sacrificed, cut from the
material in favor of character details or expression of ideas.
You want to discover materials to
develop which will showcase your own
particular abilities and
not something you wish you could be or plan to be with more
and your assessment of what you have to
offer are the focus of auditions.
If you create a genuine experience of
theatre in an
audition, so much the better. But
must come from an interesting character “turn” or
from the casting director encountering
new material or a distinctive reading of familiar material. But it’s always
better to settle for “showing
your wares” than attempting to entertain or move your
audience in such a short
amount of time.
Also, remember that most auditions
are for solitary
performers, meaning that you are limited
to monologues or sections of a script where other character
A few other
- The material you do must be of your
own choosing, and something which has a personal
attraction for you. It
is not a good idea to ask a theatre teacher to hand you something. Much better to find it on
- As a general rule, avoid being overly dependent on monologue books or
popular plays. These
things are really overworked, and casting directors get tired of them
really quickly. And
imagine going to an audition and finding other
auditioners doing your
materials may be helpful for the classroom and even practice auditions,
but can be compromised in real situations.
using a speech you have performed in a production. Try as you might, you
won’t be able to separate your delivery from the nuances,
rhythms, and blocking of that production, and lifting it out
of context reduces your chances for honesty in your delivery of it.
- Go to the library or other
play script source and scan a number of plays for large speeches. When you see one, read it
and if it does not appeal to you in terms of the way it reveals
character and employs language and allows for movement, leave
it in. If you like
it, file it away for further thought.
You don’t even have to read the entire play
until after you run several speeches through the large sieve on your
way to a final choice. Be
careful, however, that while the monologues appeals to you it should
also be universal enough to touch emotions in others.
- Of course, there are other
sources for audition materials other than
short stories, journals, essays, you name it.
You just need to be sure that they can be
performed adequately, that they can have an external life as
well as an inner one. This
usually means that they need to be descriptive rather than
overly introspective or philosophical.
They should be rooted in situation to be most effective.
- Wherever you find the
material, it must be appropriate to you.
it for your age. In
you may be cast as some character well out of your actual age range,
won’t likely happen in a professional setting.
it for your vocal range. Don’t
Shakespeare or the classics if you aren’t vocally prepared.
it for your own interpretative ability.
Don’t attempt high-minded philosophical
materials if you aren’t
comfortable with them. Nothing
than a false attempt to sound high-minded.
The monologue material must also make
sense on its own,
without the need for elaborate explanation of story or character
be surprised at how
many delightful possibilities this eliminates.
The material must also fit within the
time limit or be
capable of being cut to fit. Your
introductions always count as part of your total time restriction.
And, finally, your audition piece
needs to go
settle for materials
which are only descriptions of a place, a person, or a time. They’re
beautiful, oftentimes, but they won’t
allow you to show your capabilities apart from a kind of wistfulness. You need dramatic action.
some form of conflict which can
your piece—something to be solved, or a series of responses
to something, or an
internal problem to be wrestled to the ground.
It should build to some form of crisis which can be
reached in the
available amount of time.
You are advised to be constantly on
the lookout for possible
audition material. Do
not wait until the
final moments to make important decisions.
So far, we have talked principally of
are the best kind, of
course, but even in such a format you are bound to encounter some “cold reading.”
You need to develop a knack for these
things, but frequent
reading of plays out loud with an actors delivery is excellent practice. You learn, then, to focus
character development, on the nature of the sounded language, on the
desirability of following punctuation, and on the development
of your own
wits. Practice to
focus in the moment,
even when you haven’t prepared the material.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
You might try some of the above
suggestions for your
University Theatre auditions, and not just wait for the big time. “Oh, these guys
already know me,” you say.
Surprise them. Surprise
Looking at Grad Work