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What can I do at a Theater Audition to Help Me get a Part?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Auditions for plays and theater companies can be frightening and nerve-wracking, even for experienced actors. An audition often serves as your only chance to make a good impression on the directors and auditioners. Your goal at an audition should be to stand out from the crowd, not only through ability, but also through professionalism and preparedness.

Before you even begin to perform, auditioners are able to look at your appearance. It is recommended that you dress modestly, as if for an informal interview. Clothing should be easy to move in and comfortable, in case you are asked to dance or show movement skills. If you are asked back to a second audition, be sure to wear the same outfit. Until auditioners get to know you, they may associate you with your clothing. By wearing the same outfit, you will remind them of their first impression of you.

If you are asked to prepare a monologue for an audition, several factors will help you impress the auditioners. First, whatever piece you do must be completely memorized. Try to avoid ever doing a monologue with a script or notes in your hands. Having your speech completely memorized will also help to calm you, as you do not need to worry about forgetting your lines.

Second, choose a piece appropriate to the play style. If you are trying out for a musical comedy, do a piece from another musical comedy or another comedy of that era. It is recommended that you avoid choosing a piece directly from the play you are auditioning for, but using a monologue from the same author may be a good idea.

If you audition in a small room with only the auditioners present, many professionals recommend shaking their hands in introduction. After greeting them, go to the center of the room which will sometimes be marked out for you. Say your name clearly and tell them what play your monologue is from and the name of the character. At this point, they may be writing information down for you. Wait to begin until they make eye contact with you or tell you they are ready.

If you are in a large room or auditorium, you may have to wait until your name is called. Do not greet the auditioners, but do announce your name and the name of your monologue and character. While not every audition will require these steps, they mark you out as a confident professional with excellent manners. However if different instructions are given, follow them completely.

Sometimes, either instead of or in addition to a monologue, an audition will require you to read a scene from the script. One of the best ways to prepare is to read the script. This will give you a context for any isolated scene you are asked to act out. This knowledge also allows you to make clear choices about the emotions, habits and mannerisms of your character, and may help you stand out to the auditioners.

In your performance, try to look up from the script as much as possible. Some actors recommend focusing on the other actor or actors, trying to get an emotional connection from them. Auditioners often are looking for good chemistry between actors, and trying to interact with your fellow performers can help in this process.

Nothing can guarantee the positive outcome of an audition. Auditioners cast for many reasons, not all of which may make sense to you or seem very fair. By preparing carefully and acting in a professional and confident manner, you will give the impression of a serious actor. While this may not give you the part of your dreams this time, you will leave a positive impression on the auditioners and they may keep you in mind for future productions.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon944571 — On Apr 08, 2014

Thank you very much for these tips. I am in the eighth grade theatre arts class, and this would be very helpful for some of the trips we take to audition in plays.

By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 10, 2014

I've been involved in casting before, and I can honestly say most of the director's decisions are made within the first 30 seconds. He or she usually has some idea of what the ideal character would look like long before the first actor steps onstage to audition. An actor may be the wrong height, have the wrong physique, have the wrong voice or have the wrong presence on stage. It has nothing to do with talent or training or experience. Sometimes an actor who delivers an exceptionally strong monologue can overcome some of these preconceived ideas, however.

My advice for improving the chances of getting a part in a theater production is to audition for the right character. Many directors are looking for a reason to reject an auditioner, and many times that reason is a vague "doesn't look right for the part". If you really want to be considered for a specific role, do everything you can to carry yourself like that character. Directors like to cast actors who demonstrate the qualities of the role and take direction easily. Don't argue with a director during auditions. If he asks you to play the scene like a Martian, or with a heavy German accent, there's probably a reason for it.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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