Memorize your monologue. It may seem like a no-brainer, but you should aim to have your monologue memorized for your audition. That means not only knowing the words by heart, but also having your blocking and movement memorized as well. To do this, try breaking the piece into smaller increments or beats (based on the progression of the text and its changes), rehearse in different settings, at different paces and with different intentions informing the words. Have a friend be on book for you to check that you are sticking to the text.
Read the plays! Again, it may seem obvious, but you may be surprised to learn that it is a common mistake for actors to not read the whole play that their audition piece is from. This is such an important step in preparing your audition and building your character– context is everything! Also, being able to speak a common language with other theatre people is important– the audition panel may know (and love) the play your piece is from, or they may not know it and be curious about it. Go into your auditions prepared to answer key questions about the play, and having done plot and character analyses. ALSO, if possible, you should read the plays you are auditioning for! In the case of Festival Dionysia, this is not always possible because it features new original work, but knowing a little bit about the company’s history and how they work is an asset in any audition (this will also you to ask informed questions).
Think of the audition as an opportunity to meet new people. A simple way of approaching your auditions with confidence is to reframe for yourself the purpose of the exercise. Focussing on the audition being an opportunity to meet new people…and for them to meet you, rather than the fact that your work is going to be judged might open up a new way of viewing the audition process. Yes, you’re making yourself vulnerable either way, but by reframing the audition as a meeting rather than a site of judgement, you can focus on the quality of the exchange, listening and sharing, learning, being curious, presenting yourself as the cool person you know you are, instead of going off the assumption that your every move and word is being scrutinized. Imagine the possibilities if you look for connection instead of judgement!
Remember the audition panel wants it to be YOU. It’s easy to walk into the audition room expecting the worst… because, again, that nasty inner critic can take over and the fear of being judged (in a negative way) can be overwhelming. But if you take a moment to put yourself in the audition panel’s shoes, and think about what their needs and goals are, and how that might inform their process, it can be very liberating, because they want the next person who walks into the room to be their next hire! They want it to be you! (We want it to be you!)
Take time to introduce yourself. So, in review, you have an opportunity to meet people, and they are on your side… let them know who you are, and take the time/show yourself the respect to really get your name out clearly and confidently. Not so confident? Fake it ’til you make it! You matter, and so do introductions, so make sure you take the appropriate time for introductions, say your name clearly, and introduce your piece. Easy peasy!
Embody the text. This tip goes into the craft of acting a bit more, but it can apply to you no matter what your level of acting experience is… it is so important to embody the text. What does this mean? Well, that might open up a whole can of theatrical theoretical worms, but the nitty gritty of it is… you have to make choices for your character, based on the text, that are reflected in your body, your physical choices. So, while we applaud anyone and everyone who auditions, it’s that much more meaningful when someone has thought about how (and why) their character might move, when (and how) they might be still, and made some well-thought-out choices. Whatever makes the text come alive, whatever seems appropriate for the character based on your work, whatever moves you (literally, figuratively), that’s what’s going to step your work up a notch.
Be courteous to everyone you encounter. Probably a good rule of thumb for any situation, professional or otherwise, but having good manners, and treating everyone you meet during your audition with respect is so important. Positivity begets positivity, but negativity travels faster… so don’t spread frustration, stress, or sadness… theatre is a machine that relies on all of its parts. Be kind, and you’ll probably have a better more positive experience yourself. Plus, you never know, that person you thought was just a lackey might be the most powerful person in the room.
Practise in the outfit you intend to wear. There are two key parts to this tip, one supports #6, you can better embody your text and give a great performance if you have rehearsed in the clothing you intend to wear (and you know it works for your piece), and the other is all about preparation… ever had an outfit all planned out days in advance only to find out on the night you try it on that the shirt is missing a button and the pants have a stain on them? Prepare to put your best foot forward, as actor and as character, and get comfortable in your audition clothes. Don’t forget the shoes!
Be prepared to be dynamic. Auditions are an exercise in contrasts. Be well rehearsed, be memorized, but also be prepared to improvise and adjust! Yikes. Well, it’s quite common. You may not have to come up with something on the spot, but it is fairly common to be asked to do what is called an “adjustment” on your monologue. This is often an opportunity for a director to see a different side of you, or to see how you ‘improv,’ to judge your ability to think on your feet, your creativity or your level of preparation. Best way to prepare for this is to rehearse your monologue in as many different ways as you can think of, so if you’re doing a comedic piece, try doing it as if it were dramatic, play with accents, play with physicality (see also: tip #1), the main thing is: play!
Remember to breathe… And breathe deep, from your diaphragm. Take some deep breaths before you enter the room, and keep your breath moving as you perform your piece. Sounds simple, but it can be easy to forget, to hold, to try to control our breath, just let go, let it flow! And remember to have fun! This should always, always be fun.