The day has arrived at last! You are SO prepared, SO ready for this audition! But before you set foot in the audition space, a few more pitfalls await, so prepare just a little more.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Don’t wear black. It makes you disappear on most stages, and certainly doesn’t give the director anything memorable to look at. You don’t want your clothes to upstage you either, so don’t go outrageous. In general, you want to dress as if you are going out to a nice dinner, or to a job interview (which it is). Do a “dress rehearsal” of your audition WITH the clothes on, including shoes, that you plan to wear. You do not want to be onstage and suddenly realize that you will not be able to straddle that chair in that skirt, or be able to run without falling in those shoes.
- Wear a bright color that looks good on you near your face, to bring attention there.
- Wear something that is comfortable and makes you feel good about how you look.
- Wear something that fits. Skirts that are so short that you are showing cheek is not appropriate. Pants that are slung mid-butt in the back are not appropriate.
- Wear something that is clean and does not have holes in it.
- If you have the kind of personality that says you wear bow ties, go ahead. Interesting knee socks- sure. Hair bows and other adornments- fine. As long as they do not overpower you and what you are doing. You don’t want to be known as Socks or Bow Tie. You want to be “The guys with the bow tie who nailed the Shakespeare.”
- Wear sensible shoes. Shoes affect how you walk and move, as do other types of clothing.
- Wear your hair back from your face. It may look great curling around your cheeks, or mysteriously over one eye in the mirror, but all it does is hide your great expressions and muffle your words on stage. Wear it half up if you really prefer it down, or with a hairband or barrette to keep your bangs from falling in your eyes. If your bangs are in that awful in-between stage, curl them up and spray the heck out of them so they don’t obscure your eyes.
Read the audition notice- sometimes it will tell you to be “dressed to move.” This will usually be for musicals, where the choreographer will test you out on a few steps, or even do a full-on dance audition that day. It’s possible that a straight play will ask for this as well, they might want to see you do some physical comedy or improv, depending on their concept of the play or their directing style. “Dressed to move” means:
- Wear pants (as opposed to skirts or dresses), or wear spankies or shorts under your skirt. The pants should be a little bit loose or stretchy. Nice yoga pants are fine, capris are fine, dress slacks. Not jeans. Make sure you can bend all the way over, squat and kick without worrying about anything.
- Wear closed-toe flat shoes that stay on your feet when you run, jump or kick. You can bring extra shoes if heels are important to your audition piece.
- Wear a top in which you can stretch up tall with arms, bend all the way over in and twist right and left without worrying about anything.
- Extra deodorant.
- Hair DEFINITELY out of the way. Ponytails, briads, barrettes, combs, whatever you can use. Hairbands can often fall out or whip out during dance auditions, so I reccommend bandannas or stretchy bands that go all the way around the head instead.
Remember how I told you that the auditions are often not at the theater itself? Make absolutely positively sure that you know where you are going. Get directions. Call that office and check that website and any confirmation email they sent you six times, whatever it takes to know where you’re going. If you’re taking the bus or subway, ride the route at least once before the day of your audition so you know how long it will take you to walk from the bus stop to the audition site. Keep in mind that many lines have different schedules on the weekends, so be sure you’re going to be able to be early. If you are going to be driving, plug the location into a GPS or a maps app, super great if you have one that checks the traffic patterns for you.
Shoot to be at the site about 15 minutes early. If you are going to an appointment audition (that is, you have made an appointment, you go in by yourself and you have 3 minutes to do your stuff), plan to be there 15 minutes early, but keep in mind that they are more than likely running late. You may not get seen until quite a bit past your appointment time. Don’t mention it. Also, if you are early, and folks who have appointments before you are late, you can take their slot, get seen early, and look good into the bargain. It’s a gamble that you win any way you look at it.
Bring a pencil, your picture, and your resume. Don’t fold them. Including the pencil. Make sure you have with you the phone number of the company in case something disastrous happens and you are running late.
Don’t be late.
If you know (or even suspect) you are going to be late because your dad’s car broke down, you were struck by lightning, and your grandmother died all in the same instant (which, by the way, is the only reason you should be late- writing down the wrong time, forgetting it was this Wednesday, and bad traffic are not good reasons), CALL. Call the theater office. Call the box office. Call at least two numbers connected with that company. You will more than likely not get a live person, but do leave this message:
“Hello, this is Chris Brown, I apologize, I have a 7:10 audition which I am on my way to but I think I may be a little bit late. It is now 7:03. When I get there, I will wait for any slot which may come available. Thank you. If anyone needs to get in touch with me, my mom’s cell number is (555) 555-5555.”
It is more than possible that no one will get that message until the next day; so, when you do show up, you say, “I’m sorry. I’m Chris Brown, I had a 7:10 slot. I left a message a little earlier. We got unavoidably delayed. May I wait for an open moment to audition?” The next day, when messages are checked, yours will be there. Even if they kick you out or glare at you, they will know that you did them the professional courtesy of calling. This counts.
There is a decent chance that they will be running behind as well, but DON’T COUNT ON IT. 50/50 chance that you get lucky and they won’t have gotten to your slot yet.
If you are late to this type of audition, be prepared for the possibility that you may not get to audition that night, or even at all. There are “vultures” who find out about auditions too late to make an appointment, but who come to the auditions and wait until someone doesn’t show up for a scheduled slot. They slip right in. You, too, can be a vulture if you need to. If you’ve missed your slot (bad), or found out about auditions late (not as bad), and you have the time, go ahead and hover. It’s perfectly fair and ethical, as far as that goes.
If you are late to a general call audition (where everyone goes in at once, or in groups of ten or so), and no one notices, don’t mention it. Fill out your forms quickly and quietly, and quietly find out from the assistant or another auditioner what’s going on and to whom and when you should give your paperwork.
I don’t want to alarm you, but there are spies everywhere at an audition. The person handing out audition forms is a spy. The person answering phones is a spy. The stage manager is a big spy. These spies are looking at and listening to the auditioners for their attitudes, their “offstage faces”, and their comments when they think no one is listening. The director may come to them after the auditions and say, “That young man with the glasses who read for Henry was very impressive. What was he like out here?” What you have done or said or not done or said in the lobby can make or break you at this point. Be careful, and remember that you are auditioning from minute one.
YOUR NAME IS CALLED!
Breathe. Try not to jump up like you’ve won the lottery. Try not to wet your pants, throw up or cry. You may want to do all these things at once, but breathe deeply a couple of times, wiggle your toes, you’ll be OK.
Follow whoever it is who called you, and listen carefully to their instructions. It’s hard to hear with the blood doing crazy dances in your ears, so ask them to repeat anything you didn’t catch.
When you go in, hit your mark (go to the place on the floor that you’ve been told to go to- there may be an X or a line on the floor, that’s where you should be) and WAIT. The team needs a moment to look at your paperwork. If you are singing, you take this time to take your music to the pianist and explain where you are starting and stopping (which should be clearly marked, but this is a courtesy to them), and give them a solid idea of what your tempo (speed and feel) is. Sing a few bars so they get the idea.
The team at the table may ask you a question or two, they may not. Regardless, wait patiently and relax into the space, until they are all looking at you. Then you slate, as I explained in the preparation post.
If they don’t tell you “song first, ” do the monologue first. It gives the pianist extra time to look through your music and shadow play it a few times, which is good for both of you.
Do what you’ve been preparing for so long.
The magic words are “Thank you.” You parents probably told you it was “Please,” but in this room it’s “Thank you.” Until you hear those words, DON’T LEAVE. They may have questions about your schedule, your resume, whether or not you dance, or if you have another piece to show them (which, of course, you do). When they have said “Thank you,” Then you say it back, GET YOUR MUSIC FROM THE PIANIST if you sang, and calmly walk from the room. On your way out of the building, thank all the people that you interacted with- those who are at the table where you came in, who walked you in, who are opening the door- and if you want to ask them when and how you will be notified of today’s outcome, that’s perfectly fine. They may know, they may not, but they can also give you an idea of who else to ask.
Then, you may leave the building. Congratulations! You’re done! With that part…
More to come.