In just a few short weeks Thatz Showbiz will begin its professional Broadway-Class summer training programs (FYI: There are still a few spaces left, so book your audition today!). When Thatz Showbiz was created 4 years ago, the only program that was available was our Summer Musical Theatre Intensive Program in which you have to audition to take part in. Since then, Thatz Showbiz has expanded to a number of year round programs for students of all ages and stages but still our original Musical Theatre Intensive Program continues to be our signature. It continues to be the first Program in Vaughan that holds itself to a professional standard from the moment students audition to take part in it.
Why have students audition? I never learned how to audition and audition successfully until my last semester of theatre school in NYC (I was already in my twenties by then) and the only way I could perfect what I learned was by going on auditions. Think of what I could have accomplished had I started this process much earlier. In this business the real work involved is the auditioning. Casting directors see so many people everyday that they don’t have the time or patience to watch unprofessional auditioners and nothing is more frustrating then a talented person with poor auditioning skills. In just a few minutes you have to sell your unique brand of you to the panel. Every second you’re given is precious. Now that I have been on both sides of the table (both auditioner and auditionee) here are the 5 tips I have learned about auditioning by being thrown in the biggest shark tank of them all, New York City:
1. You are interesting.
“Do less”, “do more”, “be bigger”, “be smaller.” As performers we are often fed a lot of contradicting information. An amazing acting coach once told me that we have the capacity to play anyone; kings, slaves, clowns, wall street executives, etc, simply because we are human and therefore in touch with the human experience. One of the first downfalls that happens when we are given a script of dialogue or monologue in an audition room is we think “how can I make this interesting?” As I emphasize to my students all the time, honesty in a performance is the most brilliant and interesting thing to witness. If you don’t believe you are interesting enough, guess what? You won’t be! No matter how much you will try to make your audition “interesting” if you don’t feel like you are an interesting person your performance will always ring false. “Ok, Sarah,” you say, “how can I be interesting or at least convince myself that I am interesting?” Here’s the cool part, humans are inherently interesting that’s why there are millions of plays and musicals and TV Shows and movies written about the human experience. You get to just believe it because it is 100% true! Trust that you are enough and you will be! You are uniquely you.
2. Find your voice.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to not only find my voice but realize I even needed one. When you spend your days sitting in audition rooms surrounded by hundreds of people that look like you, dressed in blue dresses with ribbons in their hair (my Belle in Beauty and the Beast audition) you completely lose sight of yourself. Being a carbon copy is not what art is and those hired and that are consistently hired in showbiz often are the ones that stick out and know what it is they want and what they want to say through their art. If you don’t have an opinion and you don’t care what projects you are a part of as long as your a part of them, you will never feel fulfilled as an artist. Additionally, you will get exhausted and burnt out quickly. You will forget #1 that you are interesting. It wasn’t until I wrote and produced my own one-woman show that I felt completely liberated and sure of who I was, how I wanted to present myself and the stories I wanted to tell. When I had just graduated from theatre school all I could think about was just getting a job performing anywhere in anything but now I’m in touch with the type of art that moves me. Yes, you will spend most of your time auditioning for work that you didn’t write yourself but you should be passionate about that work. The more you are invested and connected to the artistry of the projects the better your audition will be. After performing in my own show my auditioning skills for other shows got better. I was empowered and I knew what I wanted. You have to sell people on your brand of you. Every character you play must be a version of yourself. And as a side note, If you aren’t getting the auditions or the jobs you want I encourage you to make your own work! There are so many performers who have done this and paved the way for themselves and others.
3. Everyone is on your team (even if they’re not)
Here’s the thing, the Casting Director’s job is to hire people. They want to hire you! They hope that the next person that walks in the door is the perfect person for the job. Therefore, they are automatically on your side and they’re rooting for you. In the young performers mind and the depiction of Casting Directors in the movies create the misconception that they are fang toothed monsters. The actors who are waiting to audition with you are not there to sabotage you. These are your friends and colleagues. Acting is a collaborative art. This business is hard, actors just want to be surrounded by other actors who understand what you’re going through. There are some exceptions. There are some Casting Directors who will play on their cellphone while you’re auditioning and some actors who have a voodoo doll of you at home but this is your opportunity to show them you are not just another hopeful theatre kid, you are a charming and interesting person worthy of their time and friendship. Prove it to them!
4. Be open and a little less in control
I was living in New York, auditioning all the time and I hadn’t gotten any work for awhile. I was devastated. I walked into an audition and was given a monologue from the show to read. I took a moment to read it over and then had a inner conversation with myself. I decided I was just going to let the words wash over me and come through me however they spontaneously did and all I wanted to make sure of was that I was present and listening to everything I was saying as I was saying it. I approached the scene as improv where I was actively listening and allowing the monologue to happen to me. As I read it, I could feel all of the emotions of the piece running through me. I had done a brave thing and just let go. When I was finished the director who was also the writer thanked me for reminding him why he had written the piece in the first place (the best compliment I had ever gotten). Needless to say I go the part. So what happened in that audition room that wasn’t happening in other rooms I walked into? I had let go and stopped trying to control the situation. I trusted the words on the page to take me where I needed to go. I let the monologue happen to me rather than imposing myself on it and it was honest and interesting. Be trusting, be open, be a little less in control.
5. Don’t ever apologize.
When I am auditioning young people, I get apologized to probably about 90% of the time. I can’t stand it! Sometimes, they actually say the words and sometimes they don’t have to because their body language or tone of voice says it for them. If you are sick when you’re auditioning, don’t tell the Casting Director and apologize for it. They don’t want to know. You need to be resilient to be a performer. You look like you’re weak and making excuses if you talk to them about it. They will likely figure it out on their own and will overlook it. If you draw attention to it though all they will think about is “great, now I’m going to catch their cold.” Don’t ever apologize for anything. If you make a mistake, just keep going. If you don’t draw attention to it they may not notice. If you draw attention to it you’re just wasting valuable time doing so (yours and theirs). You want to help the Casting Director find the right person for the job (that’s you). When you introduce yourself, do it assertively Don’t say your name like it’s a question. Stand tall. Remember even if you don’t say the words, your body language and tone of voice can say sorry for you. No one wants to hire someone who is apologetic all the time. If you’re unsure of yourself they will be too.
These are some unspoken tips. During our musical Theatre Intensive program I work on some of the more technical aspects of auditioning with our students. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-216-4384 for more info about our professional summer and year round programs.