Audition Tips for Young Performers
BE PREPARED! Familiarise yourself with the audition piece, focusing not only on learning the lines (and understanding the words) but on interpreting the character in a thoughtful and creative way, experimenting with how to express the character through your choice of movement, facial expression, gesture and voice. It is a great idea to practise in front of an audience e.g. family and friends, and get some constructive feedback and ideas on how to develop your performance. And remember to do your research: if the monologue comes from a well-known story e.g. A Christmas Carol, make sure you are familiar with the story as that will help you understand the context of the character and the director will be impressed that you have done your homework.
FEEL THE WORDS! There is a big, visible difference between a performer who is just saying the words, and a performer who FEELS the words. Performers who are new to acting often stand up and say the words in the script, perhaps even with relevant actions, but they don’t FEEL the words. For example, their character may be speaking about feeling happy or losing something, but the audience can’t see real joy on their face or loss in their eyes. Remember that we recognise a good actor because we forget the person is acting. We forget the person is acting because we believe them. The emotion is real. The joy is real. The loss is real. To develop your acting skills, get in touch with your emotions and use them to bring your character to life.
BE POSITIVE, FRIENDLY AND RECEPTIVE TO FEEDBACK. In the adult world, sometimes talented performers are not given roles because they’re just not very nice to work with, so make sure you get into good habits while you’re young! Be friendly and inclusive towards your fellow performers whatever their age or gender; make sure you pay attention when others are performing (be a good audience member and learn from others!); work cooperatively with others including the production team; and always be receptive and responsive to feedback. Responding to directorial feedback is called ‘taking direction’, e.g. the director might say “Can you please try that again, but this time, express your anger by…” Taking direction is a skill that will develop with practice; the important thing is that you listen, try your best, and display a positive attitude.
FEEL NERVOUS? MADE A MISTAKE? SHAKE IT OFF! Everyone feels nervous sometimes, including performers. The first step is to accept that you will probably feel nervous, but so will everyone else! Say to yourself: “I feel nervous, but that’s OK because that’s normal, and everyone else is nervous too! I’m just going to be brave and try my best.” People learn to manage their nerves by increasing their exposure to public speaking and performance over time, so as well as doing drama, look for opportunities in your everyday life to speak and “perform” in front of others. Remember to bring a bottle of cold water to help keep hydrated and calm in the audition. And if you make a mistake? We will prompt you, but please carry on! Don’t stop being your character and apologise, just get to the end of that piece! The director wants to see that even if you make a mistake, you can shake it off and carry on because that’s what actors must do when unexpected things happen on stage: the show must go on.
GRACIOUSLY ACCEPT AND GIVE YOUR ABSOLUTE BEST TO ANY ROLE YOU ARE ASSIGNED. Performers (and occasionally even more so, their parents) sometimes feel disappointed if they do not get a ‘lead’ role, but remember firstly that all roles are important as a production is a team effort; you have been assigned that role because the director thinks you will do an awesome job, and secondly that performers in lead roles all started out in smaller roles. The director may feel like on this occasion there was someone who was a better fit, but they will be carefully watching you to see if you commit yourself to this role with the same energy and positive attitude. Immature practices like counting lines and sulking do not signal that you have the maturity, positive attitude or genuine passion for performance necessary to take on more responsibility. Remember that lead roles are often given to performers who previously stood out as excellent and lovely to work with in small, supporting roles. So, see every role as an opportunity to develop your skills, prove yourself and show that you are a team player.
AND FINALLY, JUST ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE AND HAVE FUN! GOOD LUCK!