The same performance energy, the same uninhibited imagination and full-on creativity—all the same performance goals are required of you at the audition as on the job itself. In some respects, imagination and creativity are even more vital at the audition than on the session, because at the audition, you have to make a great leap of faith as to what the production may look like. Therefore, it’s imperative you’re very decisive and specific in your choices.

The truth is the only real difference between the job (session or booking) and the audition is the number of takes expected from you.

On an audition, it’s extremely rare you’d be given more than three or four attempts to deliver the audition you wish to submit. Again, you’re expected to be decisive and creative very quickly. 

On the actual session, the Creatives (directors, producers and copywriters) are after a few options within the parameters of the premise. This means you’re expected to deliver quite a few takes within the realm of the piece while remaining creative. It’s not well known (because to be honest no one is counting except the actor) but the booking may only require 5 -10 takes, or it may require up to 55… or more! It varies wildly from job to job and from director to director.  Typically the director is opting to make number of people happy, which is why they aren’t counting how many takes, they are simply exploring their options. And as the actor you’re expected to deliver a limitless number of workable options within the perimeters of the piece.

So, you could say the audition demands on-the-spot decision-making regarding your performance: You’re expected to take off on a very short runway. And on the booking they expect stamina, and undying effortlessness on what could easily be a very long runway.

Since you can’t book the job without mastering the audition, this is a very good place to begin mastering your trade.

In the audition process, we actors usually get to submit two deliveries. And to clarify: the general idea is to make them different in inflection, while remaining true to the framework of what’s being asked of you. Why give them one “good” and then, a moment later, give them “good” again? What’s the point of submitting two reads if they are identical? It doesn’t serve a purpose. Instead the object is to keep your imagination engaged and offer a slight variation to show your continued willingness to offer options and keep your imagination engaged. So, give ‘em “fabulous” on one take, and over here, here’s “remarkable” on another, rather than a set of standard, cookie-cutter deliveries.

Always give performance energy at the audition. Go farther than your comfort zone allows. Stick your neck out and take a real chance that’s beyond your comfort zone. There will be nothing but discovery in what you deliver if you do, and that’s what’s always expected of you as a talent, whether you’re delivering an audition or the real deal.

Don’t give those casting anything to guess at. That shows indecisiveness.  Besides it’s really not their job to supply you with an imagination, it’s the other way around.  That’s why you’re the talent. Give these guys the finished product at the audition!

And, if you’ve been playing some sort of confused guessing game at auditions—trying to decipher, “I wonder what they want?”  Or even worse: “I wonder what they think of me right now?” Guess what?  They weren’t think anything until you gave them something to think about. And if that’s what you were thinking when you delivered your read—that’s precisely what will read as your audition: indecisive, confused and unsure. Yikes.

Instead, concentrate on how you think this spot actually should go. Imagine what it should look like. What exactly are you physically doing in this piece? Get kinetic! Don’t get smaller—instead give yourself plenty of room to let your body back up your performance.

What’s the overall tone of the piece? Work the script out loud, rather than in your head and work it again and again and again so you’re familiar enough with the text that you know when to expect the “gear-shifts” that are likely to occur and make those transitions seem effortless. No one wants to hear or see you—the actor—working. The idea here is to make your performance as effortless and enjoyable as possible. And that begins and ends with YOU.

So, go ahead.  Play!  That’s the job, whether it’s an audition or the booking itself.

In fact that could easily be the job description of what we actors do: we play.

I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Copyright © 2009 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc. All Rights Reserved