Whether it’s for a professional show or your school play, auditions are a difficult and panic-inducing process. Throughout my 14 years of experience within the world of theatre I have had countless auditions for everything from professional touring musicals to Am-Dram (the British term for community theatre) plays and pantomimes, encompassing acting, singing, dancing and even juggling once! No matter what the audition is for, I always find I have that shaky, butterflies feeling leading up to it, though I must admit I have much more control over my nerves than I did as a child.
Within this article I am going to lay out the top tips I have picked up for keeping your cool and acing that audition! Although most of my experiences are more applicable to children/ teens/ young adults, I’m certain these tips may come in handy for adults too.
This doesn’t just mean preparing your piece(s) for the audition, but preparing yourself, physically and mentally. No matter how polished and well performed your song, monologue or routine may be, if you aren’t mentally and physically prepared, your audition will not go well. There are a few main things you need to prepare: your body, voice, mind and your plan for the audition day.
First of all, preparing your body. Generally, as actors we should all aim to stay in good shape, in order to keep up with any physical demands of a role, however, if you are going to be attending an audition featuring dance, it may be time to get a few classes in! If you intend to partake in dance or musical theatre auditions, it is a good idea to have some basic jazz ability and competency with choreography already, however the most important thing leading up to an audition is rest. You don’t want to overwork yourself and burnout before or even during an audition – yikes. Rest is equally important for the voice, especially if you are performing a scene, monologue or song.
In the weeks leading up to an audition, ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids and protecting your voice. I recommend avoiding dairy and particularly sugary foods which coat the throat, and trying to get some herbal teas, I particularly enjoy lemon, honey and ginger tea, which is great for the throat as well as combatting any symptoms of a cold, and honey, which can easily be purchased is a squeezy bottle which you may want to keep in your audition/ rehearsal bag!
Preparing your mind is perhaps the hardest. Auditions are a draining process and can be very difficult, especially if you give your all and still do not make it. Over time and audition experiences you will learn how to deal with this, but it is always a good idea to avoid growing too attached to the show/play/whatever you are auditioning for. It is also important to prepare your mind for the actual audition, practicing remaining calm as best as possible, and ensuring you can still perform to your best under pressure.
The last thing to prepare is for the day itself. Ensure you have transport to and from the audition, you have timings worked out and you have everything you need. You should have any sheets/ scripts you may need, sheet music or a backing track (depending what has been asked for; if unspecified, have both prepared), appropriate clothing and footwear (including dance attire if required), lots of water and a snack – it could be a long day!
This applies to your preparation as well as the audition itself. Be focused on your piece(s) whilst preparing, so that they become like second nature by the audition. Focus on the audition day is incredibly important, you mustn’t let other people distract you no matter what. The time you are3 waiting to go in for your audition should be spent warming up, recapping lines and going through blocking and/or choreography. My best tip is to have headphones with you and listen to music to help you focus and get into the zone, without distraction from other people. Personally, I like to listen to music and even have a pre-auditions playlist, however some of my friends prefer ambient or classical music, or even perfect silence before an audition. I would encourage you to find what works best for you and use it to help you focus, so that you can maintain that focus and perform to your best in the audition.
I will be the first to admit that I’m guilty of looking around an audition room to size up the competition and compare myself to them. This is something that stresses me right before an audition, and something you should definitely avoid doing. Every performer has different strengths and abilities, and you need to have confidence in your ability – you wouldn’t be there if you weren’t good enough! So many people, especially teens, fall victim to self-doubt, which ultimately affects their performance and prevents them from showing all of their talent. Remind yourself why you’re there and just how good you really are, and then bring all of that talent to the panel. If you believe in yourself and your ability, they will too, and your talent will shine through!
Although you should be bringing a character to each element of your audition, when talking to the panel just be you! They want to see you and your passion for theatre, not a façade of what you think they want. They are people just like you and they don’t want you to fail or be uncomfortable, so let them get to know you. Some of my most successful auditions have been those where I let my guard down and bought 100% me to the panel when not performing. This is especially important for things like youth theatre, community theatre or school theatre, as these are companies where you are likely to spend a lot of time together and really get to know one another, if you’re honest and open from the start you will find it much easier and have so much more fun!
Rejection is a horrible feeling, and no matter how many times we experience it, it doesn’t get any easier. No one wants to be rejected, but it is inevitable that not every opportunity can be given to us. This does not reflect upon your talent or ability, and many times an unsuccessful audition is to do with many other factors including the casting for another character or the suitability of a character.
You mustn’t let a knock-back throw you off – everyone who has ever worked in theatre will have experienced it! It is not the end of the world, no matter how awful it may seem in that moment, and one day something better will come along. If you’re struggling after an unsuccessful audition, talk to someone who will understand, and try to find a new project to take your mind off it. Eventually it will get better and you’ll understand why it wasn’t meant to be.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, I hope you find it useful. Please remember this is not an exhaustive list of audition tips, but it should hopefully help. Break a leg!