Going the extra mile - How to succeed in an audition
Training in Musical Theatre winner Chris Theo Cook is now performing in the West End in hit show Les Miserables. He gives us an insight into the auditioning process and his advice on how to succeed.
“Talent isn’t going to be enough. To succeed, you will have to develop an Iron Will”
In the summer of 2007 when I sat in front of the auditioning panel for the BBC Performing Arts Fund and the above statement was said to me I honesty thought it sounded a little… dramatic. However, after a year’s intensive training and three years spent working in the industry – I can safely say that no wiser words were ever spoken!
The rewards of working in this industry are plentiful. We get to act, sing and dance for a living for a start, what could be better? It is no surprise that lots people want a stake in this fantastic industry. So as performers starting out in this fiercely competitive environment, where does that leave us?
As a performer you are expected to maintain all the basics: attend the auditions set up for you by your agent, keep yourself looking well and always be on time for auditions. I soon learnt that to build a career and to obtain regular work, a much bigger check-list would have to be ticked off! It is therefore a performer’s own responsibility to ensure that they are always one step ahead of the game.
With this in mind I have put together some tips and general ideas for new performers starting out in the industry on how to go the extra mile in an audition and hopefully, get the job!
Practice your repertoire
It’s not unbeknown to performers to receive a call informing us of a promising audition… in twenty-four hours time, sometimes even in just a few hours time! It is therefore essential to keep repertoire up-to-date, polished and ready to go. A practice (even just one hour a week) makes a huge difference, keeps songs in the voice and monologues in the body. It is also a great help to constantly be expanding repertoire to ensure you have all the different genres covered.
Keep yourself fit and your skills sharp
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting through several rounds of auditions for a job you really want then flunking out on a round where you are totally out of your comfort zone. It could be movement, dance, acting workshops or solo singing. If there is an area in your training that is struggling, help it out! Attend classes, say yes to as many projects as you can manage, and don’t be afraid to admit you need to work on certain skills.
Don’t depend on your agent
If you are currently working with an agent they may be able to get you a few auditions a week but bear in mind they have many other clients to look after. You should be looking for your own auditions as well as them. You can do this by sending headshots and CV’s to casting directors and theatres, requesting to be seen for specifics projects. Having a showreel online is another excellent way of advertising your skills and you can now post clips to your spotlight page too. Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites are also excellent ways of keeping in the loop on auditions.
If you’re sent audition material for a recall try your very best to set about learning it as quickly as possible. Yes it can be frustrating if you find yourself being sent twelve scenes and thirteen songs, but ultimately the more material you know on the day, the more comfortable and confident you will feel when performing it. Also, constantly training your brain to absorb material is a very useful thing as an actor!
Do your research
If given the opportunity to read for a part, make sure you know everything you can about both the character and the production. Try spending a good hour thinking as that person, finding their physicality and mannerisms and their voice. Don’t be afraid to record yourself! Audio and video recordings are sometimes your best way of stepping out of what you’re doing and having a third person perspective on your performance. Also, share your performance with friends, family and other performers. The more you perform in front of others, the more ownership you can gain over the material.
One of the most valuable skills you can learn as a performer is to be resilient. If an audition doesn’t go your way, the quicker you can pick yourself up, learn from it and get back into the next audition, the quicker you will find your next job! It also helps to have a realistic view of the industry and of the casting process. You may well be the best person that the audition panel has seen all month! That is… until the person after you walks in, then you might be the second best and it might mean you don’t get the job. But there is nothing you can do about it except keep your spirits high and feel positive that you’ve had a good audition.