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