Last time, I shared how I believe that your goal in an audition should be to make memories. In advertising, it’s said that a consumer needs to see an advertisement seven times before it’s effective. If that’s true, then let’s set a goal to make seven positive memories before we leave our audition. They don’t all have to be big, bold choices (though I certainly recommend a couple of those!). We just need to decide on some simple ways to set you apart from the crowd. It starts with confidence.
Auditioning with Cold Reading
Buy a copy of the script, if possible.
Research the play as much as you can to know where any scene fits into the arc of the story. Then you can be handed any scene and be confident that you are interpreting the action accurately.
Analyze the script for any and all clues about the role you want to play.
Decide what your character wants in each scene, and when it comes time to read (rather, perform) that scene, pursue that objective! Time and time again I’ve heard about actors who got cast because they were the only ones at auditions who wanted something.
Come with a few tricks up your sleeve.
I like to approach auditions with a couple of bold choices I had already concocted in my preparation. This gets me excited for the chance to use them in a scene. I also like to bring some small props if at all justifiable by my character and scene.
Dress to feel the part.
What is the personality of your character? Stiff? Lazy? Charming? You don’t have to look that way. Wear whatever makes you feel that way, and let it affect your performance.
The director knows it’s a cold read.
She doesn’t expect depth of character (though that’s not to say that with a little research and pre-work, you can’t offer that!) Remember there is no pressure to fit into how the director views your character. The director wants to see what interesting choices you can make. She actually wants to be surprised. Furthermore, a good director will take this opportunity to see how well you respond to direction. Prepare to change how you just did a scene according to the new direction. If it seems “wrong”, that’s not the point. How well can you create new ideas and bring something new to the next run?
Don’t keep your eyes buried in the script when someone else is saying their line. Look at them and listen. When there is a slight pause and you sense that you have a line to say, calmly look down, get your line, and respond with it. Yes, it might feel you are responsible for awkward pauses. But you’ll grab the director’s attention, and then she will see you deliver a thoughtful, driven response.
Connect with the other actors in the scene.
Make eye contact, make physical contact, raise your voice (if such behaviors are at all appropriate to the scene)–this is not the time to obey the rules of social behavior with strangers!
This is fun! Enjoy the time. Interact with fellow human beings who enjoy the same activity you do. Encourage them and their efforts. By focusing on others, you can forget about your own stresses and pressures. What’s more, you will establish for yourself a reputation as an actor with whom directors and cast mates enjoy working.
What is the most memorable moment you’ve seen at a cold-read audition? Share with us in the comments below!