Yep, this one takes a while, so I’m going to break it up so you don’t get overwhelmed. And that’s the number one reason that people don’t audition, is that they try t o do it all at once and get overwhelmed. So let’s take it one step at a time.

The first thing I’m going to tell you to do is to read another book. It’s called Audition, and it’s by Michael Shurtleff.  You should be able to find it in the library or online or in any bookstore’s drama section.  Where you probably won’t find it is in a used bookstore, because once people have this book they don’t let it go. It really is the best book on auditioning you will ever find, and I can’t tell you any more than Mr. Shurtleff can about audition technique.  I teach from his book, and I hope you will learn from it.  I do, however, have some tips for the young actor that are not specifically addressed in Audition, or not in the depth that is needed for actors of your age and situation.  Here we go.

The audition process actually starts much earlier than you’d think.  For a school audition, it starts when you first meet the director or drama teacher in the fall.  For a community or professional audition, it starts when you call for your audition appointment or information.  Consider yourself on display and in consideration at any time you are anywhere around anyone connected with the production you are auditioning for.  This includes receptionists, assistants of all kinds, stage managers (especially!), and of course, directors. As I have said before and will continue to tell you, only a small percentage of your value as an actor is in your talent.  Your attitude and professional awareness are worth their weight in gold, especially at your age. You can easily set yourself apart from your peers as something special just by putting in a little extra effort.

First things first. How do you find out about auditions? There are several ways. I’m posting this at the end of the calendar year because most companies will do their auditions between January and March. It’s known as Audition Season. Though many places will still have opportunities to audition throughout the year. Here’s the first thing I would advise you to do:

Get on their websites. Almost every company at this point has their own website. You can Google “Theatre Companies (your town)”, and do searches both with theatre spelled theatre and theater. People have strong opinions about it, I don’t know why, but it’s a thing. Anyhow.

Each website should have a button somewhere that reads “Auditions” or “Get Involved,” that’s usually what you want. It may or may not be updated (companies are notoriously behind on updating websites) but by looking at whenever their last auditions were, you can see when their next auditions are likely to be. You can also see if they do Generals or Show-By-Show auditions. Generals are when they audition once a year for their entire season rather than for each show individually.  This is great for the actor, because you only have to prepare one audition and go once to show yourself off.  It’s also terrible for the actor, because if you miss the season auditions, you’ve missed your chance for the year with that company.  Show-By-Show… is self-explanatory, right?

You may get the chance to enter your information to be notified of auditions, and if so, do it. Regardless, go ahead and get on their mailing list, get your information to them. If you don’t find what you need to know, links are broken, the page isn’t getting updated, whatever, you will need to either email or call them.

When you are making these contacts, and any subsequent contact with these companies, your audition has already begun.  You must present yourself over the phone or in writing as a capable, articulate young person who would be an asset to their company.  If you are a horrific speller, opt to use the phone. If you are phone-phobic, email but get someone to check it before you send (and then copy/paste for each email to the other theatres on your list). The people who answer the phones and emails are often members of the production staff, sometimes even the artistic directors themselves, and they can tell from how a person is when making contact if they might like to see that person on their stage.  You are dealing with extremely intelligent, artistic, and experienced people, and there used to be a television commercial- I think it was for toothpaste- that said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  Think about that carefully before you call and during the call.

But what should you say when you call?  Glad you asked.  Your initial call should go something like this:

“Hi!  I’m calling to find out about auditioning for your company.”

(either you will be given information at this point by the person to whom you are speaking, or you will be transferred to someone else.  If you are transferred, then begin exactly the same way with the next voice.)

The information you need to get is as follows:

  1. Does the company do season auditions, or show-by-show?
  2. Cattle call, or appointment only?
  3. When is the next audition?
  4. What is the season (that means, what plays are they doing in this coming season)?
  5. What needs to be prepared for the audition?
  6. Where are the auditions held?
  7. Where is the theater? (The audition space, the rehearsal space, and the performance space are often three separate places.)
  8. What is the performance week? (Tues-Sun, Wed-Sat, Two shows on Saturdays, whatever)
  9. How do I get on the mailing list to be notified of upcoming auditions?

No matter how nasty the person on the other end is, be pleasant and do your best to get this information.  If they say they are in a rush, offer to call back later and leave a message. Be sure to thank them.

If you are going to email, it should be similar:

Hello! My name is _________, and I am interested in auditioning for your company. Please let me know at your earliest convenience how I could go about it. What I would like to know is:

  1. Does the company do season auditions, or show-by-show?
  2. Cattle call, or appointment only?
  3. When is the next audition?
  4. What is the season (that means, what plays are they doing in this coming season)?
  5. What needs to be prepared for the audition?
  6. Where are the auditions held?
  7. Where is the theater? 
  8. What is the performance week? 
  9. How do I get on the mailing list to be notified of upcoming auditions?

Thank you so much, I look forward to hearing from you soon. 

Sincerely, 

(Your Name)

(Your email address)

(Your parents’ phone # – NOT YOUR PERSONAL CELL NUMBER)

And then you wait for an answer. If you are not answered within a week, you could try one more time, but if after that no one gets back to you, let it go.

For your school’s plays, it is easier and harder to find out about auditions. Sometimes that play(s) for the year haven’t even been chosen yet by the start of school, sometimes audition notices go up on day one. Best bet is to go directly to the Drama Teacher who directs the plays and ask him/her, as early as you can. Audition posters may not even get posted until less than a week before auditions, but usually the teacher knows the schedule at the outset. But you have to ask. Put aside the anxiety and shyness for 5 minutes, become a character who has all kinds of confidence, and get the info you need.

I encourage you to start this process right now, so that you get all the info early, and you can start making plans, decisions, and preparations.

More on that later. One step at a time.

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