Do I Want To Hang Out With You?

by Alyssa Hendricks, Advanced Drama Instructor

I’ve been on both sides of the audition table more times than I can count. I know the

nervousness that comes from walking into a room full of strangers and performing your

heart out. I’ve thought of a million things I could have done different/better/stronger in

the car, on my way home after the audition is over... But I’ve also sat on the floor of a

theatre with fifteen headshots and one part, and agonized over how to cast my show when

I saw so many talented performers. Auditioning is a confusing process, but after doing this

for the better part of two decades, I think I’m starting to get it.

You found a show you want to be in, you scheduled your audition, you have your materials

ready. Now what? Auditioning can be a mysterious process. Every company, director, and

performance is different, and with only 2-3 minutes to show your work, how do you

demystify the process, and make your best impression?

I always encourage performers to think of auditioning in two parts:

Part One is what I like to call the “Do I want to hang out with you?” part. This is everything

in the audition where you’re not “performing.” It’s your slate and the way you interact. This

part is all about putting your best foot forward. Here’s how to knock it out of the park:

1. Be kind. Be kind to everyone at the audition. The other performers, the person who

checks you in, the stage manager, the directors and any other theatre staff. You

never know who these people are. Once when casting a show, one of my volunteers

couldn’t make it, so I asked my mom to come check actors in. I can’t cast someone

who was rude to my mom! Treating people with kindness and respect is small and

simple way to start building a reputation as someone everyone wants to work with.

More importantly, it’s just the right thing to do.

2. Don’t apologize. It may seem like this is in contradiction to “be kind,” but go with me

for a second. I’ve had a bad morning; I’m not feeling your best; I’m fighting off a cold;

I just found out about this audition last night. These are just some of the things I’ve

heard auditioners say right before they perform. And man, is it a bummer. When I’m

holding auditions, it may not seem like it, but I’m on your side! I want you to

succeed. I’m never more excited than when someone I’ve never seen before

auditions for me with confidence - I want them to kill it. If you come in with any

kind of excuse, you’re basically apologizing for your audition before you’ve even

done it. You’re setting me up to think you aren’t going to be that good. So even if

you do great, I’m thinking, “yeah, but they could be better.” A lot of our apologizing

comes out of nervousness. Try to develop ways of steadying your nerves, but until

then, give yourself a pep talk, go into that audition room and act confident, even if

you don’t feel it.

3. Keep it simple. There are a lot of ways we make auditioning more complicated than

it needs to be. Keep it simple by following the casting teams lead. When you come

into the room, they may chit-chat with you. Use this as a chance to relax and show a

little personality. They may say nothing but, “Whenever you’re ready.” That’s fine

too. Slate, and start your monologue/song/etc. Keep your slate short and simple by

losing unnecessary verbiage. Instead of “ Hey my name is Alyssa Rae Hendricks and

today I will be performing a monologue from Romeo and Juliet as the character

Juliet,” say “ Hey, I’m Alyssa Rae Hendricks and this is Juliet from Romeo and Juliet.”

They know why you’re there, and they’re listening for the keywords that tell them

who you are and what you’re doing. Don’t explain anything or “set up” your piece by

giving information about the scene or character. If they have a question, They’ll ask

you. Keep it simple. When you’re monologue is over take a beat, and say thank you.

They may chat with you some, ask you questions, or ask you to do something else -

that’s fine. Don’t read too much into it if they just say thank you either. Take them

saying thank you as your cue to exit and peace out. You did it!

Here’s the thing, you may not always be the most talented person at an audition, but

auditions aren’t all about talent. They’re about a million little things directors and actors

bring to the table. You’re going to have a bad audition every now and again - ones where

you’re sick, or tired or forget your lines, or ones that for no reason at all you just blow.

These are three tips that make the “Do I want to hang out with you” part of your audition

less mysterious and easier to get through.

Sometimes, this can make the difference when directors are trying to decide between two

performers of similar talent levels. If you were kind, unapologetic, and simple at your

audition, it can push you ahead of someone who made an excuse for their performance,

was unkind to someone at the audition, or overly complicated in the room.

Get in the habit of doing these three things, and you’re going to be more comfortable and

successful auditioning, because directors will want to hang out with you.

Keep an eye on the LCAA blog for more audition tips and tricks from me, including part two

of the audition process: Do the work.

Break legs & hearts

by Alyssa Hendricks

Cricket Hater