5 Tips for a Successful Acting Audition
From Academy Theatre Chair Ben Dicke
Auditioning can seem daunting. And yet, our opportunities for work in the entertainment industry are completely reliant on our ability to “Nail the audition.” Whether you’re auditioning for a musical at your local community theatre, putting something on-tape for a commercial audition your agent has set up, or hoping for acceptance into the Theatre Department at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, having a handle on a few audition pointers can give you a noticeable edge.
1. Be yourself. There’s almost no way to completely push aside the “butterflies” that come with performing in front of complete strangers. However, it’s important to remember that folks in charge of casting are always hoping that the solution to their problems is the next person to walk through the door. The only way to be that solution is to present WHO YOU ARE and not some person you think they want. From the first moment you say, “Hello,” make sure those running the audition encounter the thing that makes you uniquely you.
2. Prepare for success. There’s almost no such thing as coming in “overly prepared.” Sometimes I hear young actors talk about not wanting to feel too comfortable with a piece of material before they present it. However, comfort ability actually allows you to discover new things about your piece – whether it’s a pre-rehearsed monologue, a scene from the film or commercial, or a song you really like. Preparation lets you take focus off of what’s on the page and into living fully in the character.
3. Dress the part. A lot of actors preparing to audition for us here at The Academy spend a great deal of time considering what they should wear to an audition. Actors often find themselves asking, “Should I wear a costume? Do I need to dress as a specific character? Or, is this outfit too nice?” While most auditions don’t need to see you in costume, wearing something that makes you feel good and looks professional is helpful. And, it’s as helpful for you as an actor as it is for those seeing your audition. If questions come up like, “Are these pants too tight,” or, “Are the sleeves on this shirt too short,” then it’s probably better to pick out something else. And, as always, going back to that first rule – BE YOURSELF – is essential.
4. Take direction. Sometimes those in the audition room, whether it be the director or the casting director, will give you a note on your audition and ask to see the piece again – we do this often with prospective students here at The Academy. This is where preparation is actually most helpful. Having a thorough understanding of your piece and the character you’re playing allows you to make quick adjustments. Know that your ability to make a change to your plan is often highly valued by directors and producers who are most often looking for actors who are flexible and adaptive.
5. Ignore the competition. It’s very easy as you’re waiting for your audition to get “psyched out” by the other actors in the lobby. However, you should know that those folks are more than likely just as nervous as you. What’s more, your PREPARATION will put you well ahead of numerous others. Staying focused on what you’re trying to accomplish in the audition will soon make most of your insecurities and nerves fly away. So, have fun and do what you prepared not worrying about what you think others might bring.
Chair – Theatre Department
The Chicago Academy for the Arts