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  • Meg

audition dealbreakers?

As an actor, I remember trying to find a way to just love auditioning. My mum used to tell me

“it’s just another opportunity to perform; try and keep that – something you love to do – as the focus”. She was right – it is, ultimately, just another opportunity to do what I love. But the

pressure of audition settings never really went away for me, and I found myself being equally

anxious and excited. And this is true as a director as well.

And yet, even with the nerves, audition days as a director are one of my favourite days in the

theatrical process. It will sound cheesy (I apologize in advance), but I really do believe that it is a privilege to watch people work. I believe this to be true if you’ve been in thousands of shows and performed on all the biggest stages in the world or if this is your very first audition for a community theatre performance. It takes a lot of courage to walk into an audition room and perform. I recognize the effort that an actor has put into preparing their pieces. And sometimes the things that actors often think are the dealbreakers in a room are in fact not a problem at all.

Here are a few examples:

I don’t care if you mess up your monologue. Nerves are normal and far fewer mistakes happen when the stress of trying to ‘get the job’ disappears (ie. in rehearsals and onstage). What I do care about is the work you do in the scene and how you handle yourself when you do make a mistake. So, if an actor wants to start over again, that will not affect their ‘hireability’ from my perspective. I would choose collaborative, playful and a decent person to work over talent. I can teach you how to nail a monologue in a show; I can’t teach you how to be a good person to work with in the same amount of time. I want actors that are flexible, eager to collaborate with their scene partners and ones who value that each actor in the room brings something unique andnecessary to the show.

When picking a monologue to perform, I am less concerned with gender than I am with

suitability. One of my best friends – a woman – is the best version of Iago I’ve ever seen in an

audition. It fit her strengths and her age and showcased her so well. I think if you relate or

connect to the piece in some way, go for it. I like seeing an actor perform work they are

passionate about.

Bring your personality in. A rehearsal room is created more by the actors than the characters. I love when an actor comes into a room and is their authentic self. The audition nerves – if they’re there – can come too. Acting is about authenticity and nerves are probably the most normal thing in that environment.

As an actor, I was told once by a director that you should always have a question prepared to

ask at the end, so that if they ask you if you have any questions, you engage with them in that discussion. I respect actors that ask if they will be notified regardless of outcome and what the timeline is for letting people know. I think letting actors know – whether they are successful or not – is only basic decency and it doesn’t make an actor look desperate to me. Own your talent and your worth. Ask about feedback and timeline.

Audition rooms can be intense spaces. As a director, I want actors to know that the audition

goes both ways. If a company or person makes you feel pressured, disrespected, or

unappreciated in a room, then that reflects on them and the type of room they would create in rehearsals. It’s okay to judge the auditioner too; part of knowing your worth is knowing when a project doesn’t gel with your artistic or personal values.

Take courage. Be brave. Have fun!


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