Audition Procedures

by Aimee Mitchell

Audition sign

Learn the basics of the audition, how to conduct yourself and what to expect.

Film and theater auditioning, like any other performance, requires careful planning and preparation. It is therefore necessary for each and every aspiring actor to be well prepared for their audition. As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Before you attend your very first acting audition, you should have a strong understanding of the auditioning process and what's expected of you when you arrive to your first audition. The following tips will make auditioning much easier for you. They are meant to give you some background on what you may face during your audition.

The Audition Fundamentals
  • Be courteous.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Have a neat appearance.
  • Be prepared.
  • Have a professional attitude.
What is an acting audition? It is important that you understand that auditions are primarily interviews or trial acting performances that have been organized in order to discover and even test your acting talents (hidden or obvious). Whether the role being cast calls for an actor, singer or dancer, you will take part in an audition. These auditions can be arranged and moderated by any number of people, from directors, talent agents, casting directors or producers - generally anybody seeking actors and talent. Usually, acting auditions involve a board of casting associates who judge your performance. They ask you to perform before them as a way to test your acting skills and as a way to seek out your abilities, view your range, and see if your other attributes match those talents they are looking for at the time.

There is no 'specific' uniform or way to dress, but a typical experienced actor will wear something that does not take the shine away from your talent. Dress casual and comfortable. As long as you look groomed, clean, and neat, you should have no trouble wearing your favorite outfit.

One of the basic purposes of auditioning is to showcase your professionalism. It is therefore necessary that you prepare yourself as a professional who knows what he or she is doing. When you appear at your casting audition you should have a standard and professional 8 x 10 inch headshot and resume with you. A professional is also someone who knows the importance of time and who understand the necessity of being punctual. Casting calls and auditions are all set by appointment. It is a good idea to arrive on time or even better yet, arrive fifteen or twenty minutes early. It is also advisable to cancel all other appointments for that day as auditioning generally takes time. And you should be patient till your turn comes. Being late not only looks terrible and may mean you are excluded from this audition, but it will mean that you are not relaxed and could hinder your chances of success.

Your audition may be held in someone's personal office or studio. For that reason, a little respect goes a long way. Respect your surroundings. You must also be respectful to the other actors attending the audition. Don't consider the other actors around you your competition and become discourteous or rude. These actors may well end up being your co-stars. Always be friendly, cordial and most importantly, professional.

Don't forget to sign-in when you arrive at your audition. At most major casting auditions, you will be asked to fill some kind of "sign-up" sheet. You should easily find a sign-up sheet at each audition you attend. This sign-up sheet will vary depending on the type of casting call. If the casting call is for union actors, the sheet may include social security information, union affiliation information, and information about your age and gender. If the audition is for non-union members and extras, there many not be much information that needs to be furnished. You would simply be asked to sign in to allow the organizers of the audition to arrange the participants in order as per their arrivals.

Before your audition begins, you'll no doubt have to wait for your audition in a holding area or waiting room. While waiting for your audition, take the time to concentrate on your performance rather than chatting with other people there. Your concentration and preparedness is what will influence your performance.

There are times when you will be asked to prepare one or two monologues in advance. Typically there would be a time limit of generally of two or three minutes for these. In some cases you might be asked to prepare two contrasting monologues like one comedy monologue and one serious or dramatic monologue. Or, you might be told to prepare a combination of a classical and a contemporary monologue.

In other instances you might be asked to perform what is called a "cold reading." This is where you go into the audition without knowing the script you'll be reading beforehand. You could be reading from a play, commercial or even a movie script. At some places, you might be given what they call "sides" which is nothing more than a small section of a script which could vary from one to even ten pages.

Auditioning Tips
  • As the saying goes, it is all about attitude. You need to be a professional. Charm can't solve everything. And the casting directors, casting associates, producers and directors are not the ones who are going to be bowled over by your charm. The only thing that matters is your work and your professional attitude.
  • Your audition is generally conducted in someone's office, theatre or studio. When you enter there, you should politely acknowledge everyone present in the room but remember one thing. You need to be focused on your work.
  • There are times when the audition will be videotaped. And then you might be asked to "slate." Well, it's nothing. What it means is that you should look directly into the camera lens and state your name and if you are there courtesy some talent agency, and then name that agency. When you finish the "slate" you need to start your performance.
  • We are only humans so mistakes can be expected. If you lose your concentration or cannot perform as per your potential or if you feel like showing another interpretation of the piece, you could always ask to be allowed to do it again. But if you are not given a second chance, thank them politely and wish them good luck with the project and politely leave the room.
  • The only thing that matters ultimately is your performance. So, when you have performed your best as per your expectation, it is always a good idea to chill out and forget about audition. Worrying would get you nowhere. It's not advisable to call anybody and ask about your performance. What matters ultimately is your own performance and that is what you should concentrate on. Try to keep improving and learning and wait for the next opportunity.
Being Courteous to Your Judges
I'm not telling you to be over-nice, but you need to show respect for the person or people conducting your audition. Always say hello, smile, and be friendly and confident.

So there you have it, a brief look at what to expect at your next audition and a few tips to help you prepare. Implement these tips to make a strong first impression and you should have no trouble at your next acting audition or casting call.
Aimee Mitchell is an acting coach, short story author, community theater director and playwright. She has spent the better part of her adult life working with young actors and actresses.

Copyright © Aimee Mitchell. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

Reader Comments

I was just wondering, but who are the judges? If it depends, then who are they usually? Thanks for taking your time to read this.

Posted by Vivian Wang (2011-12-04) 5268

These are great tips.

Posted by Miguel Nieves (2008-05-02) 82

Post Your Comments

No HTML, links, emails, phone numbers, addresses, profanities, or all caps please. (Message Rules)