Alright ladies and gentlemen, you’ve got an audition and you think you’re prepared, and hell, maybe you are! But there is no harm in checking yourself before you wreck yourself. This is an audition checklist which can be applied to all auditions and has very general ideas that you should be on top of before you walk into any casting room, anywhere in the world.
- 1# Have you learnt your lines? Really?
- 2# Have you made interesting choices?
- 3# Do you know what the heck you’re doing?
- 4# Are you warmed up?
- 5# Have you planned your outfit?
- 6# How are you getting there?
Have you learnt your lines? Really?
There is learning your lines, and then there is really learning your lines. I taught a beginners acting class recently, on our last rehearsal before our performance night, everyone came in feeling extremely confident about their preparation and every single person completely blanked when they got on the floor to do their piece! This happens to everyone, you think you’ve learnt those lines, and then you get up onstage and next thing you know, your brain is utterly blank!
Once I feel like I have learnt my lines well, I like to stress test myself. I will do my lines while doing very slow squats or pushups. Can you do all your lines while holding a bridge or plank? Think about it, as soon as you walk in the casting room your body is going to be under stress, you need to be able to perform under these conditions, so make sure you’re working in physically intense situations into your preparation to really get those lines into your body, not just your brain.
Check out our video guide for learning lines here.
Have you made interesting choices?
This is absolutely key, have you made interesting, unique choices for your character in this scene, that are firmly grounded in the given circumstances of the scene? Have you broken it down, worked out what your character wants and found the most interesting way to get there? Think about it from the perspective of casting, they have 30 people coming in who look, sound and energetically present similar options to you right? How are you going to distinguish yourself from that pack?
You’re going to do that by making interesting choices with your lines, your physicality, your relationship to the characters environment and the tactics you employ to get what you want. Tips and tricks here, but I find ideas like, is someone in the room next door that you wouldn’t want to hear this conversation? That helps me keep my volume down and intensity up in film and TV auditions. Or does the room you’re in have a particular significance to you? Is there a way you can make a different choice on a particular line to give the scene a different aspect? Play with it! Work with a friend and see what you can come up with! This doesn’t mean throw all sense and sensibility out the window, make sure you’re still honouring the writers intentions, and not just making a crazy choice for the sake of making a crazy choice.
Do you know what the heck you’re doing?
Your job at an audition is much more than simply learning your lines and making one or two interesting choices. You need to spend some time doing some other preparation so you know what the heck you’re doing! This involves breaking down your scene/scenes – everyone does this differently, but some key things to think about and work with are; objectives, stakes, obstacles, actions, beats and the big one – given circumstances. Casting is looking to see a fully-fledged character emerge in front of their eyes, that’s how they know who to cast in the role. Discover your own take on that character, and go with your instincts. If you have no idea what’s going on in the scene, ask your agent for more info, or make an educated guess and run with it. And finally, there’s still some more preparation work to be done which doesn’t involve backstories and scribbling on your script. What are you auditioning for? Is it TV? Film? Is it a remake, or an original, or an adaptation? Who’s casting it, who’s directing, producing, who else have they cast? You need to be little detectives, and mine the internet for any skerrick of info you can find! All of that info is going to inform your choices in the room. E.g. you might find out that this is an adaption of a comic book series, of which you’ve never heard of. What are you going to do? Go and find that comic and start reading! Get your hands on as much information as possible, to give yourself the best chance. There is a different between an actor who walks into a casting room, who knows exactly what they’re doing and goes for it. Those people book work, because they’ve done the work, they go the extra mile and that makes them brilliant actors and storytellers.
Are you warmed up?
Trust me on this, you do not want to go into an audition room cold! Make sure you do a warm up before you go in. Even if you have to wake up extra early to do so! Waking up early freaking sucks – I know, but it’s worth it! Never done a voice warm up before? You can check out some helpful resources here and here. A voice teacher once described the difference to me of being warmed up and not being warmed up as follows: it’s like the difference between crystal and glass. They are very similar but you know which one you’d want in the display case.
Have you planned your outfit?
This is a delicate balance, you don’t want to turn up in doctors scrubs to a casting room. That makes you look more like a crazy person than an actor! Or a full suit of armour for Gladiator? No thanks. What you do need to do is give an element of the character in the way you present yourself. Dress for the character not the scene. Whether that’s a collared shirt done up to the top button for a priest or a suitable dress for a 1950s housewife, a suit jacket for a business person – whatever. It’s important to hint at character in what you’re wearing, without going overboard. I have known some actors who did go overboard, and they got the role. But I’ll tell you know, it wasn’t what they were wearing that booked the role – it was their performance. So a slight nod to character, but not necessarily full costume. For more info on what to wear to an audition, click here.
How are you getting there?
The logistics of the situation are often the very last thing you think about. Next thing you know you’ve missed your train, jumped in an Uber, got lost in traffic, ran down the road in the rain and arrived late, puffed out and extremely apologetic. Don’t do it team. Learn from my mistakes! Plan how you are going to get there, where you are going to park, what bus you are going to take and whatever else may pop up! Know exactly how you are going to get there and put that plan in motion to avoid any craziness on the day. You want to be there between 10 and 15 minutes early so allow time for that too. For an actor, auditions should always take priority. Whilst it might seem like a hassle to reorganise your whole day in order to arrive at your audition on time, dry and without stress, if you want this career, you have to make sacrifices in order to get what you want.
That is the list of the key things you need before any audition! If you have any others that you would like to add why not comment below! Hopefully you have learnt a bit from my mistakes and you’re ready to go out there and take on the world! Good luck folks!