Friday, February 15, 2013

5 Tips for the Anxious Actor

Audition season always seems to sneak up on me. It's funny, but I still get jitters. I love meeting new people, sharing the dream of our company, and getting psyched for new possibilities every season. The excitement spills over into nerves, especially the day before and the morning of. This year's no different!

Tomorrow, I'm taking the bus down to NYC to audition a group of 40 actors whittled down from nearly a thousand resume submissions. We'll have another round of about 30 actors at the end of the month in Albany. And I know already it is going to be an incredibly difficult job figuring out the right 7 people to fill the open spots in this summer's company.

Now, I know I'm not the only one with audition jitters. So here's a few tips to ease your mind while you're in the room with us.

  • Don't apologize! You're already in the top 10%. You have an impressive resume. You've got nothing to apologize for. Be proud! Even if you stumble a bit or you're feeling under the weather, I'm looking for how you handle yourself in a tough situation. Starting over is not the end of the world, and handling tough moments gracefully (with no apologies) can still land you a gig. It's happened before.
  • Be polite. This one should really go without saying. We're a small company and a tight-knit bunch. We're not sending casting interns or assistants to these auditions. You've got the Artistic Director in the room, and I don't take kindly to anyone being rude to my people who are signing you in or handing out sides. Even if you're nervous, don't be abrupt! Smiling at someone will probably help you relax a little.
  • Don't choose a "10." I know it's tempting to choose a monologue that showcases your ability to go from 0 to insane in 2.5 seconds or less. It's incredibly difficult to get to an emotional 10, or even a 7 or 8 in the audition room. You don't have the advantage of the structure of the play, the context of the action, and neither do I. We haven't been on a journey yet! What I'm really looking for in a monologue is how you can speak the verse. Are you aware of the rhythm? Are you using the rhythm or fighting it? The sides will be a much better guide for me to see more of your range. So absolutely choose a monologue that shows you off because you do it really well. But don't put yourself at a disadvantage by choosing something where you have to rage or weep or be all sorts of crazy.
  • Look around. A lot of casting directors seem to prefer when actors look at the clock over their head and pretend that's a person, but that drives me crazy. I'm right there! You have a fantastic group of actors all around you! Use us! When we perform Shakespeare IN THE RAW, the audience is right there and they love it when you engage with them. Engage with us in the room, too!
  • Have fun! This is probably the most important piece of advice I can offer. Even if you're feeling terribly anxious, take a deep breath. This is an opportunity for you to do today something that you love doing. Today, you are Prospero. You are Trinculo. You are Macbeth. Or Lady Macbeth. Maybe both! Enjoy this moment today, because it is awesome!

I can't wait to be back in the city tomorrow if only for a few hours. You can bet I'll be grabbing a delicious scone at Alice's Tea Cup and trying to contain my excitement at having some amazing actors bring two of my favorite plays to life right before my eyes. My excitement may look a little like this:

The Malvolio Jig
Break a leg!

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