2020 Audition Q&A with Theatre Pros

 

With the Atlanta Unified Auditions coming up, we at C4 Atlanta wanted to share some insights from the Audition Q&A with Theatre Pros event from last month. 

This event was graciously hosted by Freddie Ashley in Actors Express’ theater and Laura Cole was the Moderator.

All responses are edited for clarity and brevity, as we wanted you to have the summary of the feelings and observations from the panelists. The first part consists of general statements made in conversation with the moderator and the second part answers direct questions from the moderator and audience.

Panelists sitting on stage addressing a crowd of actors.

The Panel Included:

Freddie Ashley, Actor’s Express

Laura Cole, Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

Jody Feldman, Alliance Theatre

Clarissa Crawford, True Colors Theatre

Jarrad Howard, Audition Revolution

General Statements/observations:

Statements on choosing what materials to present:

  • You only have 90 seconds. There is no value in cramming as much as you can into that time. Figure out the cleanest and simplest way to show your range.
  • Don’t do Shakespeare at the audition unless that is all you want to do in life. We [Shakespeare Tavern] will see your credits on your resume. Use your time to show your versatility. 
  • Do not sing if you are not a singer. Do two monologues instead.
  • Try contrasting your song with your monologue. If you have an upbeat song, contrast it with a dramatic monologue.
  • Do the strongest thing first. I like wonderful segues from one thing to the other. 
  • Do not be too general as you still need to pick monologues that are specific and character driven. People start looking the same to us over time. The best thing you can do is to show up and be you; fully and confidently.  
  • Don’t do material that’s already on your resume. It looks like you don’t care to work hard. 

Statements on Music:

  • We are not looking for you to do the hardest song you can find. If it sounds difficult don’t choose it. 
    • Think of the accompanist too, as they may have a hard time playing a difficult song for you.
  • Do not try something new while auditioning. Pick a song that you can consistently sing. Stay in your range and do not try to simply hit the highest note you can make.

Statements on Presence/Behavior:

  • Everybody out there watching you is rooting for you. We want you to be good. 
  • Please do not use “recital hands” while singing (hands crossed or cupped in front).  
  • Tips for how to treat the accompanist
    • The accompanist has the job, you are getting the job. Treating the accompanist poorly will only reflect poorly on you. 
    • Be polite and say “hi, how are you” tell them your song and if they ask to set tempo with you, you can tap your leg to set it. 
    • Do not snap your fingers at the accompanist to give tempo. It can be seen as rude.
    • You can tell the accompanist the last line of your monologue before you start the song (if you decide to plan it that way). This will help transition smoothly into your song.  
    • If the accompanist messes up, do not acknowledge it. Keep singing, as it is your time and you need to own it. The accompanist will catch up or stop to allow you to have your moment. 
    • Do not cut eyes at the accompanist for making a mistake. Thank them afterwards and keep it moving. 
  • We want to know that you are confident and a good person to work with. If you go in with an “if I don’t do well, I will not get any Atlanta auditions” attitude, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. That simply is not the truth. Relax your nerves, use your breath and breathe before your auditions. 
  • You don’t have the gig when you walk in the room. It’s not yours, so you only have something to gain from auditioning, nothing to lose. You are only walking into possibilities, not boundaries. 
  • I am a worrier, so I worry when actors are having a hard time. Please don’t let me know you have messed up. Don’t give it away. Keep the confidence you started with, because many of us will not hold a mistake to you.
  • Introduce yourself, state your number and take a good beat to drop in, because now you are entering character. Stick the landing once you get to the end of your monologue. Let it set with us. 
  • Don’t tell us what you are going to do beforehand. Don’t take up every possible moment with talking. Use intentional pauses as a tactic. 
  • The way you conduct yourself in your professional life will follow you. Be kind.

Statements on What to Wear: 

  • Present the most polished version of you. Don’t try to be something you are not. Be comfortable. Look normal and professional. Look like your headshot. 
  • Coming in with character shoes can make you look outdated and also similar to fifty other people who choose to wear character shoes.
  • Make sure you wear shoes you can walk in. Auditioning is not a good time to try out those new stilettos. 
  • Wearing black may blend you into the background if it is black. Consider something that will make you stand out. 

Statements on Resumes:

  • Do not put the name of the theater building of your college. We don’t know what that is.
  • Don’t lie about your experience on your resume. Don’t exaggerate when you take a class at a theater and then say you were in the actual show at that theater. 

Direct Questions:

What is something one of you really don’t ever want to see in a minute in a half audition?

  • Confusing good acting with simply yelling and swearing
  • Dirty monologues in a cattle call audition. That is not going to grab our attention. It makes it look like you are desperate for attention and makes us [auditors] feel like we need a shower. No explicit sexual or graphic material. No animal killing jokes. 
  • People who are not funny, trying to do comedy for contrast in their monologues. If you are not comfortable with comedy, don’t do it. Find your contrast in language choice or high and low status monologues.
  • If it’s not something you can do consistently over and over, don’t do it. Be familiar with the work you are using.
  • Get an honest coach that will tell you what you do not do well and what you should do.
  • This should not be the first time you do your package in front of people. Even if it’s in front of fellow actors, make sure someone sees it before you audition.

If an actor is not equity and not going to Unfieds what is the best way to be seen?

  • Most theaters hold general auditions. They will most likely see non-equity regardless of calls for EPA.  
  • The Alliance can use non-equity if they do not fill with equity. We may have to put you on hold for an audition as we must see EPA first ,but we will try to see you. 
  • You can reach out about the play, but know about it before you do. Do your homework.
  • Do not show up for a private audition or call uninvited. If you feel you are perfect for a role, you can contact the theater. But, do not assume you will get an audition. If a role needs to be filled, we may look into you. If not, accept that we are not interested. 

What about non singers being asked to sing at general auditions?

  • You may be asked to sing “Happy Birthday” just to see if you can hold yourself in an ensemble. We want to hear the quality of your voice, your tune and pitch.
  • Generally, if you are not a singer, don’t sing. 

Are you seeking to hire local?

  • Theaters want local people and prioritize local talent.
    • It’s less expensive. 
    • Atlanta Theaters deeply care about this community and are invested in the art cultural of our city. 
    • Theaters have limited means to house someone who is not based in Atlanta.

Thank you notes?

  • Not for a general Audition. If I spend an hour with you then sure, but no gifts. Don’t spend money you don’t have. 
  • Consider inviting theatres to your show instead.

What if you have the same resume for 2-3 years?

  • If you are auditioning well and not booking things. We may look sympathetic at your situation. 
  • Overall the resume is just a way to get into the door. What you do once you are in is key.
  • Try harder to expand your experience. 
    • Attend readings around town.  
    • Volunteer at theatres to get to know them better.
    • Ask questions and seek out information for more opportunities.

 

We hope you can find some value in these opinions as you prep for the Unifieds or any audition. Please keep in mind that auditioning is a subjective process. You cannot control what the theatres are looking for, or their needs for upcoming seasons. Needs can change from season to season. So, don’t give up!

Wishing you all the best for your upcoming auditions! -Morgan Carlisle

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