Acting Audition Tips - How'd the Audition Go? - Beverly Hills Playhouse

How’d the Audition Go?

Who cares? You book it, or not, and you move on (with impeccable followup, of course).

When good actors go too long without booking, a very dangerous process can start to occur: The actor begins to think. And in these thoughts, the actor begins to diagnose. And with this diagnosis, the actor begins to remedy what they believe to be shitty acting, which is clearly shitty, demonstrably shitty, it’s shittiest shit you’ve ever seen,  and impersonal to boot, not to mention glib, and unfunny, and unconnected, and fucking old, and and and and and and and…. Because if it were not so, they’d book the job – after all, they were perfect for it.

So let’s step out, rise up, and look at this situation from 5,000 feet instead of five inches.

You have your impression of the work you brought into an audition. Okay. But this may differ from the actual quality as might be determined by a person you trust – a teacher or whomever you rely on in that regard. It’s all pretty bloody subjective. All performers, however, are prone to think they sucked when in fact they did not, or that they killed it when perhaps they’ve had better days.

Then we have the folks on the other side of the desk – their impression of your work, versus your impression, versus this ‘objective’ truth that could be seen by someone you trust outside the equation. How many have come out thinking they sucked and then gotten the call? So. Three independent realities available to us so far.

Then we have what they said to you about your audition, which may or may not be what they actually think. Maybe they chirp, “Nice job!” to every actor from best to worst. Or maybe they stare at you blankly, even though they thought you were fabulous.

Then you have what they may have said to your agent, versus what they actually thought, and then you have whatever variation the agent definitely said to you. Many famous stories there. Milton had his about telling an agent that the actor was “too streetwise,” for a role, and the agent passed along to the actor, “Milton thinks you’re too sleazy.” Ouch.

And all of that is before you get to the many factors that are out of sight and largely out of your control: The essence or quality you emanate and its suitability for the role, physical factors, nepotism behind the scenes, the veto of a single producer when everyone else wanted you, the advocacy by the same producer when everyone was against you, the “name” who turned it down is now on the phone… There may be issues with how you enter or leave the room that can color negatively an otherwise terrific read,  or you could have a terrific off-script personal moment with people in the room that saves a mediocre read.

So you could deliver, by some objective outside-the-equation opinion, an A+ audition. But you think it was a B- at best, and the casting person stared at you as if it was a Z+, and thus you buy a gigantic ice cream sundae on the way home to compensate while waiting for a call. The casting person in fact thought it was A-, but now the producer wants his niece in the role, so to make it easier, the casting person gets on the phone, and for various reasons of temperament and politics tells your agent C. The agent, thinking they know just what will motivate you to do their brother-in-law’s audition workshop for $500, calls you and says D. The actor hears D, opens a box of Oreos, and begins feverish web research on programs for an associate degree in accounting.

Now – could there be trouble with how you audition? Sure. Certainly a class where you can drill the audition process with input from someone you trust can be valuable, if only for some intensive practice. And even then I’ve known actors who behave differently in class than they do outside. But yeah, you should feel comfortable with the process in an exercise format within a group you trust, for sure.

After that…. Skip it. For an actor to come out of the process not having booked a job, and think they know “the reason” they didn’t book it…. Yikes Yikes Yikes. My advice: Don’t get sucked into this crap. Just concentrate on increasing your overall ability with acting and staying sharp via a decent class, drill the audition process in class so you know you can serve it up in a supportive environment, and then work the administration to increase the number of auditions, and hopefully as well the importance of the roles and quality of the projects. Every speck of brain power that is currently being sucked into the black hole of analysis of how you think you did versus what they said you did versus what the agent said they said about you….  Just apply all that energy to creating future opportunities. You’ll go nuts otherwise.

This entry was posted in Attitude on by .

8 thoughts on “How’d the Audition Go?

  1. Ying Yuen

    Thank you! I always feel that going to auditions is like going to sales calls, you don’t close every single sales call, but its part of the job to go and sell our craft. Now, I just have to remind myself not to take it too personally. Thanks, Allen.

  2. Roz Cohn

    Yep. I just had an audition and because I was sick and a little out-of-it, I couldn’t remember the frickin’ line – yes, wordy though the line was. But why I had to think I couldn’t look at my paper was moronic. It happened 2x, had a great CD, did it again and was fine. I was sick – but I didn’t tell them that. I’m human. What I didn’t do is beat myself up. And the lesson is, USE THE FRICKIN’ PIECE OF PAPER if you go off. Duh:) Onward! Thanks for the post)

  3. Justine

    Thanks, Allen! This article about the thought process that occurs and all of the different minds behind and around the audition and the thoughts and the thing and the other thing…. really rings true! I laughed out loud at the mention of compensating with an ice cream sundae and oreos, which in my case would be a brand new purse or pair of shoes that might bring me luck on the next one out! The dangerous thought process & self-diagnosis is so real and creeps up unknowingly a lot of times. The same thing goes down in the recording studio or when performing a newly composed song for the first time. I was recording the other day and just completely unsatisfied with every take; I began to feel as if I was wasting everyone’s time, including my own. I had to step back and just breathe. I knew that the vocal track I was laying down was technically fine, but I just wasn’t “feeling it.” Then, I thought about something you said in class regarding the fact that what you “feel” about your performance may actually be quite different than what is translated to those listening. Damn those self-sabotaging inner voices! I put my anxieties in the corner and the music director behind the boards actually told me, “Even on your worst day, vocally, you’re better than most everyone out there! Every track was great, but we’ll go as many times until we get it.” Once I stopped criticizing myself, the creative freedom lasso loosened up and not only did I get the job done and done well, but had time to spare and was able to crank out a brand new, killer one-take vocal track that they said could stand as a final cut! Here’s to applying energies toward more creative opportunity! Rock On!

  4. DawnMarie

    A-to-tha-men Allen!!!! Thank you so much! Just this week alone I had many back to back auditions and not even one callback AND so of course I totally started going down a not so bueno road 🙂 This helped me to regain some much needed perspective 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *