11 Monologue Audition Dos and Don’ts | Author: Theferg
A Casting Director’s Guide to Monologue Auditions.
While hanging out with my friends that work in show business, they always tell me their horror stories of inexperienced people calling themselves actors and the different things they do at open casting calls. I don’t want to say that inexperience means you’re not an actor, but if you’ve ever seen the first rounds of American Idol you know what I’m talking about. I’ve written a few of these posts already, and this week’s topic is the menacing monologue. My buddies have given me a few pointers to share. I’ve listed the specific categories they have cast for (comedic, dramatic, movie, contemporary monologues), but I’d imagine it’s the same for all monologue auditions. This list isn’t about how to be a good actor. You should already know how to express a wide range of emotion in your movement, voice, face, etc. No, this list is about how to wow them during the audition with your professionalism. Let’s get down to it. Here they are and make sure you heed their advice!
1. DO warm-up:
Doesn’t matter if your playing sports, dancing, acting, etc., you always need to warm-up before a performance. Getting ready for your monologue audition is no different. Do some stretches, mental preparation and vocal exercises. Get your mind and body ready to perform. Sure, practice before you get to the audition, but by all means keep yourself in the zone. Chatting it up with other people or staring into space will not help you at all. Take this part very seriously. My pals always say that they have enormous respect for those individuals they see warming-up, when compared to the “actors” that do not.
2. DO look professional:
This might seem obvious, but some obviously don’t see it that way. This is a job, and you’re going on an interview. You need to look professional. Doesn’t matter if the monologue audition is for dinner theater or Spielberg’s next blockbuster movie, you must present yourself as someone that takes his or her profession very seriously. If you can’t take the time to dress yourself, do you think the casting director is going to want to trust you with the discipline of acting in their project? Experience, whether you have it or not is moot. A fifty-year veteran and first timer should look identical in appearance when entering an audition. The performance should indicate ability. Don’t give them a reason to discount your ability before you have a chance to present it. Now, it’s not just attire you have to worry about. Sloppy portfolios are not acceptable. No show no call, crumpled resumes or headshots, handwritten resumes, these are not acceptable in any occupation. If you think they are, stop reading now and search tirelessly for a new line of work. If you find a job, hold onto it for dear life, because you are lucky to get one.
3. DO what’s new:
Don’t take this the wrong way, the classics are just that, but when you’re auditioning in front of people who’ve seen it all, multiple times during several auditions you want to stand out. Sure, you might have a favorite movie, but how many times can you watch it consecutively before your mind begins to wander? You don’t want the casting director’s mind to wander during your audition. That’s not very memorable. Imagine being a casting director and you see Shakespeare (the auditioner thinks, “that was great I love Shakespeare”). Then, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare (get the point). Suddenly, someone performs a monologue by Dilios from 300. Maybe not the best example, but you understand where I’m going with this. You want to be remembered when the day is done. Like American Idol, song choice, or in this case monologue choice, is key (I know, another American Idol reference…sorry). It’s like changing the channel from something they’ve seen a thousand times. Be different, and I guarantee they will sit up, listen and be very appreciative. Now, if you think you have Shakespeare down cold, and there’s nobody else that does it like you can, go for it! Seriously, if you can put everyone else to shame and your performance alone sets you apart than you have to do it. In that case, everyone else’s mediocre or poor performance will make you look that much better. However, if you are not Shakespeare reincarnated, you might want to go with something that’s been created within the last few years.
4. DON’T be afraid to move around:
A lot of time actors will stand still during the casting calls. I’ve seen actors go through an entire audition in one place, while emotion poured from their mouth, face, arms and hands. Every ounce of their mind and body was being put into the role, except their feet. It’s really hard to believe how excited or scared or sad you are when you never move your feet. It’s a tough sell and most casting directors won’t buy it. It’s not like they want you to dance, just a few steps at the right time can really add to your performance. Obviously, the next big thing that actors do and a question you might be asking yourself is, “can I sit in a chair during my monologue?” Um, no! A good way to judge how your performance looks is to record a your act before your audition. Watch it yourself or upload it onto a media site like Talent Trove to gain valuable criticisms from fellow actors.
5. DO show your face:
Now, I’m not an acting expert by anyone’s standard, and maybe that’s the problem here. However, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would ever not show his or her face to the casting director during an audition. I don’t mean that they are hiding their face completely, but some seem to think that turning away from the casting director to only show the side of their face is the most affective way to capture the attention of the audience.
6. DON’T distance yourself:
You step out onto the stage and you see the casting director. He or she is ready for you. No turning back now. You’ve studied your monologue. You know exactly what you’re going to do. Just step into the limelight and speak. I said step into the limelight! As it’s explained to me, there is an upstage and downstage. Downstage is closer to the audience, hence, closer to the casting director. So why? Why—why—why, would you ever perform your monologue upstage? You want to be seen, you want to be heard and you want to be experienced by the audience (aka the casting director), right? Well, to do this, you need to get as close to him or her as humanly possible. Show them your emotion and passion, all the things you’ve worked so hard on day-in and day-out. Don’t let your monologue be lost on squinting eyes and straining ears.
7. DON’T turn the auditioner into your partner:
I’m told that while performing a monologue, it is much easier to do it when you can direct your speech to a physical person. This makes sense to me, however, it might not be the best thing to do. Think of it this way. One, you want to be the focus of attention. You’ve just cut that focus in half. Two, the person auditioning you is now concentrating on his or her lines instead of yours. Three, it shows your true skill if you have the ability to place yourself into the role without actually being there. However, if the casting director insists that you use them as a partner, that’s a different story.
8. DON’T overact your role:
There is nothing worse than an actor walking into an open casting call and acting like a teenage drama queen in their audition. Flailing hands, raised voices and exaggerated body movements are not the hallmarks of a skilled and seasoned actor. Instead, it shows a level of insecurity and amateurish skill for which no respectable casting director has time. Now, this is not to say that those who are guilty of such performances are bad actors. I’ve been told that when actors were told to stop and bring the energy down to a respectable intensity, the performances were quite good. That being said, I found what my friends said next to be funny. They said they rather tell a person to bring their energy level down than up. A dull, lifeless actor is the worst audition they can imagine and most of the time will just send them on their way without any help or consideration.
9. DO stay in character:
When performing your monologue audition, it is important to remember why you are there and what you are doing. You cannot let nerves, emotion or anything in the room or your personal life interfere with that brief time you have in front of the auditioners. Stay in character, no matter what. As an actor, you should know the character inside and out as well as your lines, and that is exactly what the casting director should see. Your nerves have nothing to do with the character and your performance. Everyone is nervous, the guy operating the lights is nervous to some degree. You have to act. There’s nothing more to say. If you can’t set aside your feelings and act, than your in the wrong line of work. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but that’s how it works. An actor is a master of emotion. The first emotion you need to tame is your own. Just remember, however nervous you feel, think as your character. Your character isn’t nervous (unless the scene calls for it), because your character is experiencing something else. That’s the emotion you should be feeling. You character isn’t in an audition, so how could your character feel nervous about the audition.
10. DON’T stop:
For those of you who read my other article, this might seem a little contradictory. Actually, it completely contradicts what I’ve said before, but I’m being told there is a difference between a monologue audition and an open casting call where you can read directly from the script. Before, I was told to never make up the lines if you don’t know them. Either you memorize or you read off the script. Well, it seems that’s not a rule written in stone. For your monologue audition, the golden rule is to not stop, pause or otherwise break from your monologue once performing it. If you forget the lines, basically make them up. If you’re on stage during a Broadway play and you forget your lines, you don’t stop. You stay in character and say what you think the character would say and hopefully the lines will come back to you. This is exactly what you should do for your monologue audition. There is a good chance the auditioners will not know the lines exactly anyway. Just whatever you do, don’t stop your monologue. It’s considered very unprofessional. Forgetting lines is something that all actors go through. If you can cover and recover from this fear of all fears, you’ll receive that much more respect from the casting director. Perhaps, almost as much respect as if you remembered your lines.
11. DO keep your dignity:
When the monologue audition is over, it’s over. Leave with some dignity. Do not start dumping your reasons, excuses, personal problems, life tribulations or anything else that you think might justify what you did or did not do during your audition. Just thank the casting director for his or her time and leave with the level of professionalism they expect. Think of all the people they have to go through. How difficult and uncomfortable it could be if you started crying about every little thing that went wrong prior to or during your audition. No one wants to hear that. They call you if they’re interested. Might seem mean, but don’t hurt your otherwise good performance with your insecurities.
If you enjoyed this article, you can find my blogs and other articles at http://www.talenttrove.com/theferg
About the Author
Blogger and writer for a long time now. I enjoy blogging about things that help and educate people. Open to feedback and requests. I look forward to seeing you on Talent Trove. http://www.talenttrove.com/theferg
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