Actor Advice from a UGA Volunteer
Before she joined the TPS staff, Facilities Manager Libby Barnard volunteered at the Unified General Auditions — she has also auditioned numerous times, and plans to do so again this year. (Haven’t signed up yet? Click here to register!)
This is a post she put together in 2014 about what she learned as a UGA volunteer. (Want to be a volunteer? Click here for info!) We post this as an additional resource that may be helpful for those preparing this year. The following are Libby’s personal opinions and do not reflect those of Theatre Puget Sound or our UGA auditors.
Obviously you can’t please every auditor. What follows is just my own opinion and lessons I decided to take, as a fellow actor (and I know people, including those that do casting might disagree, especially on the topic of calling time).
I think what is most important is to own the room. Those are your 2 or 3 minutes. Have fun and don’t feel like you owe anything to anyone. Seriously. This is YOUR time, you get to do what you want with it.
Alright, here are my thoughts after sitting in on some TPS general auditions. Many thoughts will be applicable to all auditions, but some are specific for timed auditions. I was pretty lenient with my timing ( I let people finish their thoughts) but I know the person after me was super strict in her 2 min (or 3min depending). I won’t mention everything like know the pieces you are doing (duh).
- VOCAL/BREATH SUPPORT and DICTION. Do your warm-ups, guys. Also, if you get nervous, be aware of how that informs your breath and support, you may need more of it than when you rehearsed . . . this may include VOLUME too. 50 bodies and curtains will absorb so much sound, in addition to construction outside.
- Short and confident INTRO. This is the one time we get to see who YOU are. My preference is that you move chairs/boxes after we know who you are and what pieces you are doing, but that’s just me. Also, TAKE YOUR TIME before you begin your first piece (more on this later). Seriously take your time.
- Can you actually walk in those heels? Is the sound of them clicking too distracting?
- MOVEMENT: Everything must be DELIBERATE. We had a lot of “dancers” today, meaning they swayed back and forth. It is the equivalent of saying “um” when you take tiny steps back (that aren’t the intention of the character). Don’t underestimate one good solid piece where you are planted and then a good movement piece.
- Let your pieces land.
- TRANSITIONS between pieces: Ok. So with the timing, you may feel the pressure, but I really think its in your best interest to have a long beat or two in between your pieces. What this means is that you should plan to have at least 15-20 seconds buffer time, if not more if you have a really funny piece that you might have to hold for laughter (true story). You are lucky because the time doesn’t start until you start your first piece. Guess what that means? You get the time to breathe, spot your point of focus, breathe again and begin with purpose.
* So you built in a good buffer, this means you get to land your first piece, hold it for a bit, breathe it out, and place yourself for the second one. This means you get to change your POINT OF FOCUS from one piece to the next and not loose who you are talking to. Don’t forget THE MOMENT BEFORE and WHAT YOU WANT!!!
- I always thought that I needed to find a piece with a solid beginning, middle, and end. I still think that, but it is less important in a timed audition. Instead of thinking like that, the solid pieces had a beginning, at least one tactic shift and a button. Those are different.
- TIMING: I called time on almost everyone with a 2 min slot. I even let people go over. TIME your pieces. Also, I noticed that people with a 30-45 sec piece (usually comedic piece) were always golden. Those people that started with a piece that went over 1:10 always always went over by a lot. I honestly don’t care if I called time, its when you try to finish even after time has been called. Just stop and say thank you.
- Comedic pieces. I felt that a lot of people did monologues that felt like a stand-up routine. That may be fine if you want to show good comic timing, but beyond that I felt many lacked the WHY are you saying this and WHAT do you NEED.