Auditioning for the first time – or even 100th – can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. For some, it’s as if every insecurity they have is directly under the spotlight, visible for all to see. For others, it’s a studied exercise in ‘putting on the mask’ and getting the job done, albeit with shaking hands*.

We asked Theatre WA members what advice they had for people auditioning for the first time, and they delivered in style, with advice ranging from focus to preparation, from what to expect on the day to how you should conduct yourself.

THE BLEEDIN’ OBVIOUS

  • “Turn up early to fill in forms and prep.” – Jeff Watkins
  • “Do your research. Prepare.” – Princess Nicole
  • “Read the bloody play first!” – Savannah Banks
  • “Listen to the director’s questions.” – John Pratt

THE ‘USE-YOUR-MANNERS’

  • “If you cancel, let them know, even after the event if it is last minute.” – Jeff Watkins
  • “Use your manners!” – Princess Nicole

THE WARM AND FUZZY

  • “Breathe deep and slow. Usually he/she will then say ‘When you’re ready’ … THEN breathe deep and slow while you prepare what you are going to do in your head … THEN DO IT to the best of your ability … and be prepared for a simple ‘thank you’.” – John Pratt

THE CHILL FACTOR

  • “Don’t go in expecting to get anything. Chances are you won’t.” – Jeff Watkins
  • “Expect nothing.” – Princess Nicole
  • “Treat it like a performance. Relax and enjoy it as best you can.” – Jeff Watkins
  • “Have fun.” – Ron Arthurs

THE ATTITUDE

  • “Walk in humble.” – Princess Nicole
  • “Be resilient and gracious if you are not cast. In any given audition I’ve done, there are usually several people that were very good, but who just don’t fit the role. There is one amazing lady that I have worked with several times, who I did not cast in a particular show when she auditioned as she did not fit the roles available. She was lovely and gracious in the rejection and I have since worked with her twice more.” – Lorna Mackie
  • “Be polite to the people out the front. Most directors will gladly cast the ‘second best but good to work with actor’ over the ‘best but arrogant one’.” – Paul Treasure
  • “Ask for feedback – most directors I know will happily give it. But don’t argue with the feedback.” – Lorna Mackie
  • “If the director offers you a role you didn’t audition for, give it serious thought. They probably saw something in you, you weren’t aware of. Also in community theatre many a time roles get recast from within existing cast. If an actor tells me a role I offer is not good enough for them I am unlikely to ever cast them as they are unlikely to take direction.” – Jane Sherwood

THE NITTY-GRITTY

  • “If a director asks you to do something again, but with a different direction, try your hardest to do it. It may seem obvious, but I don’t know how many times I’ve asked someone to read a passage again like XXX, and they do it exactly the same way again as they had prepared it. If I’m asking for it differently, I either genuinely want to try it differently, or am testing your range. Either way, go with the direction.” – Lorna Mackie
  • “If you need to prepare a piece, chose a piece that works with the character, not just one that you like. I made this mistake a few times when I was auditioning, and see it lots more now that I direct. If the audition does not give you guidelines for a piece, it doesn’t hurt to email and ask. If you don’t know what character you want then chose a couple of different pieces to show range, and tell the director to let them chose what they want to hear.” – Lorna Mackie
  • Don’t learn a piece from the play itself. It is harder to undo learned mannerisms and rhythms and you cannot know what emphases the director intends to use. Learn a piece similar to the role you want and let the director see what you’re getting at.” – John Pratt

THE ‘THINK ABOUT IT’

  • “Sometimes you won’t get a role because of something you have no control over. If two people are close it sometimes comes down to physical appearance. Not getting cast is not necessarily an indicator of how well you did. Directors are casting the whole show, not just that one role.” – Paul Treasure

No audition is the same. But they do get easier, as long as you can improvise, follow direction and be patient. If you need some affirmations to give you some confidence, check out our Audition Affirmations post here.

*Nerves happen. Don’t be surprised when they turn up at the audition like an unwanted heckler – they do it to everyone. But instead of letting nervousness rule you, let it empower you.

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