Now that you probably have some auditions coming up to prepare for, let’s begin.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Overprepare. Preparation will save you. Even if you don’t have any information yet, get started.
Most places will want at the minimum one monologue, at the most two monologues and a song. You should have, at the ready, four monologues and three songs.There is always a possibility that once you have wowed them with one piece, they will ask if you have anything else you could show them. If you do , it should contrast- that is, if they want one comic monologue, have a comic and a dramatic ready.
The four are:
- 1 contemporary (modern) comic monologue
- 1 contemporary dramatic
- 1 classical (Shakespeare or other verse-type old fashioned) comic
- 1 classical dramatic.
If you need help finding monologues (it can be very overwhelming), ask your drama teacher or any of your teachers from camp. If you have an audition coach (which I highly recommend, I’ll get into that in a bit) that can certainly be part of their job description. There will be some resources at the bottom of this post. I want to caution you against using monologue books or sites that are giving you monologues that are not from a full play. Those are usually not workshopped or developed well, and though there are some gems in there (I’m not discounting them entirely), it’s generally going to be a waste of your time. Look at plays, monologue sites that only get you monologues from plays, monologues in acting books or “Scenes and Monologues for Student Actor” type books that have pulled them from plays.
Memorize your monologues. NEVER show up with the printed monologue in your hand. Ever.
I will tell you that you will do a better job if you read the entire play, but you probably won’t actually do it, so I’m just going to allude to that in a slightly passive-aggressive way.
I cannot recommend coaching enough. A good coach will help you to make strong choices, help you understand your monologue (especially important on the classical ones), give you some solid blocking, help get you to work out your habits and tics, keep you from wandering, work on projection and timing, and so much more. Ask drama teachers, directors, camp instructors, call youth theatre programs and ask them if they have anyone on staff who does coaching. It won’t be free, but it is worth every penny, and most teachers will work on a sliding scale or barter with you. Right now I am coaching a young man whose uncle is a photographer, and he’s going to do my new headshots in exchange for three sessions with my student. A win-win-win. You can do it too.
As you get memorized and coached, start performing these pieces in front of PEOPLE. Not in the shower. Not in the car. Not in your head. Not even in the mirror. People. Who may or may not like it. Who may or may not care. Who may or may not offer you advice or feedback (if you are working with a coach, stick with what the coach has said). But people. Your siblings and parents, your friends, neighbors, people on the bus, your babysitter, the people at the dog park. You have to get used to owning it. The first time you do your stuff in front of people cannot be at the audition itself. Don’t worry about it “getting stale” or not “being super fresh” when you get there. It will be seasoned, relaxed, and above all, prepared. Proper preparation is all too rare, but when it’s there it is so, so wonderful.
There’s another fabulous book you should read called Auditioning for the Musical Theater by Fred Silver and Charles Strouse (the guy who wrote Annie). But here is what I will tell you. Prepare your song. What does that mean? Great question. You guys really do ask the best questions. Preparation means:
- Memorize your song.
- Have sheet music for your song in the correct key for your voice.
- The sheet music should be clearly marked with your starting and ending points, and hole punched in a 3-ring binder. You can use plastic sheet protectors if you want, but if you do, get the matte finish ones so that the pianist doesn’t deal with glare.
- Practice it before the audition WITH ACCOMPANIMENT. Your music teacher or choir director or piano teacher or uncle or friend or mom’s friend would be flattered and happy to go through your song a few times with you so you are comfortable with the accompaniment. No matter how well you sing it in the shower, in the car, with the CD, while doing laundry, whatever, the accompaniment will throw you every time unless you have honestly prepared it with someone playing.
Playing for yourself doesn’t count. You need to work with a coach on a song too. It’s a monologue set to music. Remember that your acting should begin on the music, not the words, and end the same way. Tell the story.
Sometimes you only are allowed 16 bars or 32 bars of music. Find the best 16 bars in your song, that show off your voice the most, and let you act as well. It’s OK if it doesn’t necessarily make total sense that you are picking up in the most dramatic point in the song. That’s something the auditors know is likely to happen. They do that on purpose, in fact; it saves them time. It is very likely that they will know the song you are singing as soon as you start, but what they want to know is if you can do the hardest part of that song. You’re just saving them the time of sitting through the rest of the song to get to that high or loud or difficult bit.
DO NOT show up for a musical audition asking to be able to stand with the pianist to read words, asking to carry the music with you, or asking to sing a capella. Likewise, DO NOT finish a particularly disastrous song with the comment, “well, that’s not how it sounds on the recording.” For shame.
PIC AND RES.
Get your picture and your resume together. A lot of companies will say to you, “bring a picture and resume if you have it.” Some folks take this to mean that a picture and resume is optional. It does not. It simply means that if you show up without one, they will still let you audition. Many companies won’t, and more are adopting this policy every day. If a role came down, talent-wise, to two individuals, one came with a picture and resume and one didn’t, chances are it’s going to the one who did their homework and came professionally prepared. Your picture need not and should not be an 8×10 glossy that cost your parents $200 to have done. Your school picture will do very nicely, and you should get about 30 laser copies put on card stock at your local copy shop. This will cost between $15-$35, and worth every penny. Color or black and white are accepted now- I’d opt for color if you can. While you’re there, you can get your resume put on the back of that card, or just get it copied onto really nice paper.
I will address resume writing in a separate post.
If you don’t have a school picture, go to Sears or JCPenney or some other fairly inexpensive portrait studio and get good pictures taken. Or have someone in your family take some good quality shots of you. The pictures need to show at a minimum your whole face, a smile (you don’t need to show teeth if you’d rather not- braces will come off eventually), and they need to look like you. The pictures that we usually like the best are the ones that minimize our flaws- and there’s nothing wrong with covering bad skin or using a closed-mouth smile to cover bad teeth. But when you use a picture because it was the thinnest you ever looked, or you can’t even tell how big your nose is, or because you look just like someone else that you admire- that works against you. The purpose is to remind the director later who you were, what you looked like, and how you would look next to other people in his dream cast.
Keep an electronic copy of your headshot on your computer and a copy on a flash drive. Some places have you submit your headshot and resume via email ahead of time, and also will need the picture emailed for the program later.
If you already have headshots, and you look significantly different now, get new ones. If you just cut your hair short and it’s long in the photo, use a different photo. If you got the shots done without your glasses on, either get shots done with the glasses or audition without them.
DO-NOT-GO-TO-GLAMOUR-SHOTS or any other place that does your makeup and hair and shoots you with a filter and a cloud of feathers and other props. Just you. If the director, going through the headshots when putting together his callback list, looks at a picture of a streetwalker in a haze, he’ll go right past it saying, “where’s that one cute young girl with the red hair and big smile?” and your opportunity is lost. Keep it simple.
OK? Get started on that. Now. Go.
Stage Agent.com can help you track down a good monologue. You should pay for a membership, but you can get just the text of the monologues for free.
The Monologuer is a similar site.That one you have to join to get the text, but you can get the titles of plays that will contain monologues appropriate for you.
The Daily Actor.com Has a very good database of monologues from both plays and films. You can get the text for free.
The Monologue Archive is a super resource for classic monologues, especially if you want alternatives to Shakespeare. These are free, they are all public domain.
The College Audition Blog Has a great listing of songs for teens-20’s, including the books they can be found in.
MusicNotes.com Has a decent listing, plus you can download the sheet music (for a small fee) in the correct key for you. It’s definitely cheaper than buying a whole book to get the one song you want, and then having to get it transposed for you.
Stage Agent.com Also has songs. You will have to pay for the music, but again, worth it. It also gives you a YouTube of the song in performance, which helps tons with context and interpretation.