The Other Side of the Table: Audition Etiquette

A few years ago I ran into Ken Davenport’s 10 Audition Tips for Actors. What jumped at me was that his notes to Broadway and Off-Broadway actors applied to actors of community and regional theatre as well, and it inspired me to write my own audition tips for actors that I relate to.

I originally wrote this when I was first started directing. A couple of years have gone by now, and so have many more auditions. I have spoken to others in the industry, and figured it was time for me to revise my thoughts and repost. These are not acting tips, simply observations and suggestions on how to arrive at the audition prepared and, more importantly, how to leave a good first impression.

Come Prepared

Always bring a resume and a current headshot. For newcomers, have someone take a snapshot and print it on regular ol’ paper. Make sure that you look like your photo; when casting we see 12 to 15 people an hour and if you don’t look like yourself it will be more difficult for the casting team to remember you afterwards. We also take note when your photo is obviously several years old.

If you are auditioning for a musical, bring sheet music in the right key and make sure that it is properly marked-up for the accompanist.

Pay attention to specific details in the audition notice. When the notice asks for a one-minute monologue, time it when you practice, we take note when you go over your time. The same goes for the music: prepare the length requested, and make sure that your selection showcases your best voice.

Check your calendar and bring your scheduling conflicts to the audition. It’s best to give the auditors an idea from the beginning whether they can work around your schedule or not.

Do Some Research

Is this a known play that has been staged before? What is it about? Is there a part in this show for you? Take it upon yourself to know something about the play before you audition, and prepare appropriate materials. If you are auditioning for a family-friendly musical, an audition piece filled with expletives is simply not appropriate.

Even if it is a cold reading, it is not okay to be clueless. I am always surprised to see how many people show up at an audition without any idea what the show they’re auditioning for is about, and whether or not there is a part in it for them. If unsure, ask.

Keep Your Appointment

If you make an appointment and for whatever reason you can’t keep it, call or email. Your time could have been used by someone else, or the auditors could have planned for a break. Do call if you are running late—hopefully you’ve been given a phone number by the stage manager.

Dress Appropriately

This is a job interview, after all. Please don’t look like you just rolled out of bed or are going out to a club afterward. It can be distracting and take away from your audition.

Establish the Reputation You Want

Word gets around. People talk. The theatre community is quite small and you never know where you’re going to run into the same crew again. Assume that everyone you meet at the audition, starting with the person that greets you, will have an opinion.

If you are timely, prepared, organized, and courteous, you might not be right for the part today, but you will establish a successful impression that will follow you to future auditions.

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