A few people have asked me for audition
tips. Rather than answer them individually, I thought Iíd post
this here. For proceduraral information, plus dates and times,
check out our regular
This is long. If at any point you feel
overwhelmed, just skip to the end (Have Fun), or, better yet, just
come to an audition. You don't have to master this stuff to
audition for us.
There are some tips on our audition page
that are meant to serve as reminders for more experienced actors,
but they make not mean much to beginners:
Make sure you understand who you are,
what youíre saying and why youíre saying it. Make a strong choice.
Letís break that down.
Understand what youíre saying
first level is to be sure you understand the literal meaning of
the words youíre speaking.
Suppose youíre reading an excerpt of
one of Helenaís speeches from
A Midsummer Nightís Dream:
1. How happy some oíer other some can
2. Through Athens I am thought
as fair as she
3. But what of that? Demetrius
thinks not so.
4. He will not know what all but
he do know.
If youíre not
familiar with Shakespeare, you may never have seen
oíer, a contraction of
over. If you donít know
what a word means, ask. No shame.
The second level is to understand the
thoughts expressed through the individual words. In this case it
helps to have some context. The director may provide that context
with the monologue. In this case, for instance, something like:
love with Demetrius, is frustrated that he only has eyes for her
friend Hermia though she is equally pretty.
If you canít
glean the context from the excerpt and youíre not familiar with
the play, ask. Your goal should be to understand the text well enough to
paraphrase it. By paraphrase I mean a low-level,
sentence-by-sentence expression in your own words, not a
high-level summary that condenses the speech to a fraction of itís
length. For example:
1. Some people are so much happier than other people.
Everyone in Athens thinks Iím as pretty as she is
But so what? Demetrius doesnít think so.
4. He refuses to acknowledge whatís
obvious to everyone else.
youíre struggling with this, ask for help. Weíll happily provide
it. Weíre looking for actors, not PhDs, and we definitely want to
encourage beginners. The more of this you can do on your own, the
better, but even the best actors may stumble on an unusual
construction. The last line of this excerptóHe
will not know what all but he do knowóin particular is
challenging to parse. Ask!
Understand Who You Are
Thatís easy, right? Youíre Helena. It
says so, right at the top of the page. But who
is Helena? For the purposes of the audition you can focus on your
relationship with any other characters on stage with you or who
you speak about. In this case itís sufficient to know that Helena
is friend of Hermia, that she is in love with Demetrius, and that
Demetrius is in love with Hermia.
If youíre familiar with the play, you may
also know that this isnít a completely one-sided affection.
Demetrius initiated the relationship with Helena, then broke it
off to pursue Hermia. You may use that to inform your reading.
However, that sort of depth isnít necessary for the initial
audition. We do not expect you to have read the play in advance.
Also, know who
youíre speaking to.
Understand Why Youíre Saying It
This is where things start to get
tricky for beginners (and I assume youíre a beginner if youíre
reading this). Assume that everything you say, you say for a
reason. Thereís some effect youíre trying to achieve by speaking.
Letís take a simpler example to start, a conversation between
A: Did you remember to buy milk?
Thatís pretty short, but thereís a lot of
information to decode, and even more ways to interpret it. Letís
start with the basics. Why does person A speak? Presumably to know
if person B bought milk (though weíll explore other possibilities
in a moment). As for person B, let me ask you this firstódid they
buy the milk or not?
right? So why donít they just say
no? Because their
intention is not to simply answer the question factually. They
have another agenda. Thatís what I mean by their reason for
speaking. What effect is B trying to achieve by answering this
way? Think about it for a second.
will depend on how A
says what they say, but letís assume a pretty straightforward
reading for now. Then some possibilities for Bís intention might
be: to deny responsibility, to shift the blame, to let themself
off the hook. Those are all very similar, yet subtly different.
Sometimes the playwright will help you by
making the intention clearer in the text. For example:
A: Did you remember to buy milk at least?
your goddamn cat.
clear, isnít it? But you could read the first two lines with the
exact same intention as
the second two lines.
Make a Strong Choice
When you read for us at an audition the
first thing weíre going to do when you finish is give you an
adjustment and ask you to read again. Doesnít matter if you read
well or poorly, if you nailed the character or were 180 degrees
It may be that there was
something lacking in your initial read that we think we can coax
out with a bit of coaching. Or maybe we just loved your take and
want to see what else you can do
We want to see if you can read the text in
more than one way. We want to see if you can play a different
intention. We want to see if you can take direction.
On rare occasions we may give you a second
adjustment and have you read a third time, but odds are youíre
going to read twice and be done. So why waste your first read on a
bland interpretation? Give us something exciting. If we donít like
it, weíll ask you to do something else (and if we do like it,
weíll still ask you to do something else).
Suppose youíre reading person A in our
first little two-line scene about the milk. Thereís no context for
this scene other than the two lines youíve been given. A strong
choice will give us more information about the relationship
between the characters. A weak choice will not (or, worse,
interfere with our understanding).
Hereís a weak
choice: you really want
to know if they remembered to buy milk.
Hereís a weaker choice: youíre kind of
thirsty, and some milk sounds good.
Hereís an even weaker choice: you are a
T-1000, sent from the future to kill John Connor, but currently
posing as person Bís domestic partner to gain information on
Hereís a strong choice: youíve had it with
your partner, and if they donít remember to buy the milk this
time, youíre through.
Hereís a stronger choice: you know your
partner doesnít love your cat, but they love you. Right? And they
know your cat is sick, so theyíll definitely remember to bring
milk for your sick cat. Right? Because they love you?
strong choice: your partner left
two hours ago to buy
milk at the corner store which is literally five minutes away, and
now they walk in empty-handed with their shirt untucked and a
goofy grin on their face. Jerk.
Here are some completely neutral choices:
the scene takes place on a farm, in the 1800s, in the American
South, on a spaceship, etc.
Why is this last? This should be first.
Have fun! This is community theatre. None of us are getting paid.
Have fun. Enjoy the audition. Hopefully youíll learn something
Fill out your audition form clearly and
neatly. If we canít read your contact info, we canít contact you
(this happensódonít let it happen to you). Be clear about your
conflicts. If we want to work with you, weíll find a way to work
around your conflicts if possible. If you we cast you and
then you tell us you
might not be available for tech week weíll be very unhappy. Be
flexible. Youíre auditioning for all three plays (unless you
choose otherwise) and there are a lot of great roles in each.
Donít be a jerk. Weíre all going to spend a lot of time together
over the summer. If youíre unpleasant to be around, you wonít be
no matter how talented you are.