Auditioning for Film and for College, Returning to Acting

Auditioning for Film and for College, Returning to Acting Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice-seekers. This week's column explores some differences between stage and film auditions, and offers advice to one actor auditioning for school -- and one starting over. I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice-seekers. This week's column explores some differences between stage and film auditions, and offers advice to one actor auditioning for school -- and one starting over. I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Question
Blair,
I found your column a few weeks ago, and really enjoy all of your advice. In my acting class, my teacher has arranged for us to audition for the film students thesis projects. He told us that the best films go on to competition, and I think it would be a great way to not only further my career, but it would be an excellent experience to be cast. My question is, should I use the same monologue I've been working on in class -- it's the Sally monologue from Herb Gardner's Thieves, where she tells her husband about waking in the middle of the night and not knowing who they were, and she goes on the tell him about screaming in the subway -- and if I do, how should I change my performance for a film audition. I know since you haven't seen me do it, you can't give me any specifics, but just a little advice on the difference between doing monologues for stage auditions verses film would be great. Thanks.
Rose

Dear Rose,
When you are on a stage, it is very important to come way out and express yourself, so you can be heard, felt and seen. Sometimes emoting through grand physical gestures can extend your performance and help it reverberate throughout theatre.

The medium of film is quieter, more internal, more intimate. Yes, you can use the same monologue -- provided you feel connected to it and Sally is close to you in age. You want to be close in age because the camera picks up on those ways that actors hide and manipulate themselves to appear as someone else, and if you're trying to be older it's an easy trap.

When you audition, know where the camera is, and unless they tell you to, DON'T look into it. Look slightly to the side, but make sure your face is showing, without a lot of hair covering it. Ask if they are filming your body or just a headshot, so you know what parts of your body will be seen. In your speech you want to speak to the person(s) you are talking to as if they are right there. Let yourself be very natural, transparent. You want to feel connected to your center, and let all that you are communicating come out through your eyes--allowing the rest of your face (especially your facial muscles) and body to be very relaxed.

Keep any gestures specific and natural. Avoid sloppy movements that look like you the actor are nervous. You can, for example, play with your ring, looking at it as you turn it on your finger, but don't let your hands wander all over without aim.

I hope the audition goes well.

Question
When you audition for a school or a drama program, you're not being considered for a certain role-- so what do the auditors look for in a potential student? Also I have several monologues that I enjoy performing, and feel I do well, any pointers on how to choose one that's best for this kind of audition? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated, thanx!
Cameron

Hey Cameron,
Auditors in a school situation will be looking at how you present yourself, how comfortable you are in your body, how your diction is, how well you have understood and interpreted the text you are delivering, among other things.

But the most important thing, that auditors in any situation are looking for, are actors who come alive when they perform: Actors who move them and can be sincere and brave enough to reveal themselves without force or hiding behind a mere shell of a character. The ability to do this will make you most attractive as a performer. Even if you are auditioning for a play and your monologue does not totally fit the character they think they are looking for, or your look isn't right, if you perform with inspiration, they will likely ask to see you read again. Or they may remember you and call the next time.

So I would do whatever monologues you feel most connected to and that show off your abilities. If you are asked to do two pieces, make sure to pick two contrasting ones, so that the auditors can see more of you.

Best of luck.

Dear Blair,
Here's my question: [Although I studied acting in school] I have been working in theatre for over a year and a half as a costume person. I don't know where to begin again as an actress -- I don't know if I should just audition locally or if I should pull out all the stops and head for NYC. Should I take classes here or up there? I feel like so much time has been wasted. Which way should I go? I just need some suggestions. I have no problem going for it. I am definitely not afraid of rejection. What's the best way to get an agent in NYC? One of my close friends, who's an equity actor and Carnegie Mellon grad, suggested school-- I don't want to go back, Blair--school is not the path for me. Any advice will most definitely be appreciated.
Thanks so much for listening--Take Care
Buffy Stachel--Knoxville, TN

Hi Buffy,
It's great that you know what you want, and now you just have to make choices about how to get it. Sounds like you've got a lot of ambition and that is useful.

Well, you could take it slow. Audition for Tennessee Rep and the Clarence Brown Theatre company, while studying in your area for a year or two while you save money to come to NYC. If you do not want to go to graduate school, then there is no reason why you should.

Should you move to NYC, make sure you know at least one other person, have some money saved, are familiar with some neighborhoods and get a phone number voice mail or beeper right away. There are plenty of great places to study and many auditions (though not all for paying parts) to keep you on your toes.

Please refer to previous Ask Blair columns (available from button at the bottom of column) with "Getting an Agent," and "NYC" in the title. Good resources to find out about NY Agents are The Ross Reports and The New York Agent Book by K. Callan (available from the Drama Book Shop, (212) (944-0595) .