Some things I noticed after watching the auditions might be helpful to actors auditioning for theatre in the future. Some of these tips are my own personal opinion/observation, and others were confirmed by directors in the room. Most are pretty common-sense. Use or disregard as you will!
– DO bring energy and personality into the room. Directors might have been there for hours already, with hours more to go. This is no time to be tentative or shy.
– At general auditions, DO tell us your name again, even if someone has already introduced you. We may want to write it down! A good way is: “Hi, I’m John Doe, and I’ll be doing a monologue from [play title] by [writer].”
– DO ensure that your monologue conforms to the stated audition requirements. If it’s supposed to be 2 minutes maximum, practice to be sure you DON’T exceed that. Oh, and if you’re auditioning for a festival of new works, why do a classical/Shakespeare monologue?
– Please, oh, please: DO NOT tell us the entire plot of the play from which your prepared monologue is taken! Time’s a-wasting. No set-up is required; just state clearly the play title and writer and launch into it. If we want to know more, we’ll ask.
– Yes, they’re Canadian classics. But we’ve all heard them so, so many times. Pleeeease DO NOT make us sit through Catherine’s “my husband goes away a little at a time” speech from Waiting for the Parade, or anything from Lion In The Streets, or that “green pepper” monologue from Cocktails At Pam’s yet AGAIN. (With apologies to John Murrell, Judith Thompson and Stewart Lemoine).
– Ladies: DO NOT wear a very short skirt or ultra-low-cut top. It’s embarrassing/distracting for directors when they can see your crotch or too much cleavage.
– Gents: DO NOT sit with your legs wide open. For the same reason as above.
– In fact, this is advice for both ladies & gents: DO NOT sit at all unless absolutely necessary. Sitting depletes your energy. When you sit, we can’t see how you move (can you move?). And depending on how the stage and seating is configured, we may not even be able to see your face! One actor at the NIF auditions sat for both his prepared monologue and the side he chose to read. He barely raised his head, so his hair flopped over his face, and as a result nobody knew what he looked like. If you must sit for part of your monologue or side, DO find a logical place to stand up for some of it.
– DO NOT wander aimlessly or pace the stage during your monologue. It’s distracting and unnecessary. Pick your moments, and move with purpose.
– DO NOT stand woodenly. See above, and choose the happy medium.
– DO NOT perform the whole monologue with your arms crossed! (Really? Yep, it happened)
– DO NOT swallow the ends of your words. We want to hear all of them, and if it’s comedy, the punchline is generally at the end of the sentence.
– DO speak up. Mumbling and low volume is annoying in an audition and might indicate future problems in rehearsal and performance, so you will not be called back.
– DO NOT fuss around setting up chairs and props before you perform your monologue. Do you really need them? That sound you hear is the director tuning out.
Hope the tips are helpful. BIG THANKS to the unsung heroes – our receptionists and runners. The first contact the nervous actors had when they arrived would have been the audition receptionist. On various days they were: MC Thompson, Joan Shaw, Razie Brownstone, Roz Sherrard and Kay Randewich.
Acting as “runners” who escorted the nervous actors from the 2nd floor waiting room up the stairs to the Studio and introduced them to a scary roomful of directors and writers on various days was an energetic, always-cheerful group: Jennifer McKinley (NIF Production Manager), Jillian Welsh (AD/SM for Stalled) and Stephanie Williams (AD for My Friend’s Best Friend’s Boyfriend). Ladies, your energy and smiling faces really helped those of us who were sitting and waiting, and I’m sure it was comforting to the actors too.
It takes a village to run a festival, folks. Pat, Carolyn & team: we salute you!
Oh, one more thing. On the audition sign-in sheets, each actor is asked to indicate where they heard about the auditions. I started keeping track of responses on the second night, and here are the results:
WORD OF MOUTH/PERSONAL CONTACT: 24
ALUMNAE MEMBER: 9
THEATRE ONTARIO: 8
ALUMNAE WEBSITE: 8
“INTERNET”: 6 (a little specificity would be good!)
REF LIBRARY WEBSITE: 2
TAPA BLOG: 2
CAEA NEWSLETTER: 1