Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice seekers. This week's column addresses the issues of the callback setback, singing music from the show you're auditioning for, and how to legally let casting people know you are Equity Eligible. 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!
I just graduated college and I am now auditioning in the Chicago Land Area. I have secured two parts over the last 3 months. I seem to be cast in plays that don't require call backs. Every audition that required call backs I fell on my face. I don't know why I do well at the first audition and fail at the call backs. Do you have any advice on how to handle call backs?
Thanks for writing me. After I graduated college I auditioned in Chicagoland a lot, too. Congrats on getting cast. As you know, you're in a great city for theatre.
So -- the Callback Choke. I know it well. What to do?
First, I want to assure you that you are not under "the curse of the choking callbacks." You're making it through the first leg of the audition process, which is great! Once you get to the bottom of this pattern , it will change quickly. If you can give yourself one callback that you feel good about or get cast from, the way you feel about your call back ability will change forever. The first step for you, since you said you don't know why it happens, is to try and find out. Do you think that not getting cast from a callback means failure? It is possible that your auditions were great, and you just weren't the most suited for those roles.
You very well could be sabotaging yourself for some reason. Begin by listening to the inner voices that come up inside you when you are called back. They may be very subtle, but as you listen they will be come clear.
For example, when you are called back, do you have a feeling or sense inside that the auditioners made a mistake? That you're not really good enough or the one for the part? Subtle thoughts of this sort actually play a part in how you audition, especially when you don't know they are going on. Once you find them, they are easier to manage and steer clear of.
Another place to find sneaky destructive voices is in how you look at and compete with the other actors at the callback. If you find that you are thinking to yourself "he (or she) is so much better looking than I am," "he has better credits, and looks a lot more like the character than I do"--you are heading downward. Unless you can use the competition to genuinely pump yourself up, like "he has more credits but my audition will blow him out of the water...." forget assessing your competition. The more you honor yourself at the audition, and stay focused on yourself, the further you will get.
After you begin to watch what is happening inside you after you get called back and during the call backs, I guarantee your auditions will change, and you will learn a lot of valuable information about yourself and auditioning.
Tips for successful callbacks:
* Show-up to the callback prepared. Read the play, and if you have had a script or side, be familiar with it. Or be ready to cold read.
* Directly before the callback audition, do relaxation exercises, meditation, or what ever tools you use to get centered and slowed down before working.
* Breathe. Remember that this is another opportunity to work. Avoid focusing on getting the part. Instead, focus on the work!
* Avoid looking at other actors, or at least cut off any dialogue you want to have with yourself about them. Without getting over-serious or totally unapproachable, stay focused on YOU. Others may try to talk or engage you. DO NOT let your concerns about seeming nice or likeable to anyone get in the way of what you need to do before you go in the audition room.
* Pay attention to what you are feeling. Use whatever is there to create. Find a connection between what you are feeling and who the character you are auditioning for is.
* Make sure to keep moving physically every few minutes or so. Stay loose. *If you notice you want to impress the people you are auditioning for, take some deep breaths and focus instead on giving the best you can, for you.
* Most important, believe you are worthy of and deserve the part. Fight off all other voices.
Give yourself a few callbacks to study yourself and get it right. I have no doubt, Shawn, that you will.
Hi. I have an audition in a couple of weeks for a musical. I know all the music from the show,( Anything Goes). Would you suggest that I sing a song from the show, or something original?
There are conflicting opinions about this.
I say, if you know the music, love it and sing it well, by all means, sing a song from the show, as long as the auditioners have not specified otherwise.
There is another opinion that by singing a song from the show, you are bumping up against the auditioners notions of who the character(s) is, and since yours may differ greatly, it is safer to sing a song similar to the show's musical style and characters.
This is valid, and yet, I think that if they really like what they hear and see, and you don't already match their vision, auditioners will give direction in the audition to see if you can take it well and shift more toward their vision.
I hope this helps you in your choice. Break a leg, Ed!
Thanks for always giving such wonderful advice. Well this week is the week of my audition for Yale School of Drama (go figure, I've heard about your experience). By the time you reply to this memo, I would've auditioned (Feb. 13 in Chicago, my home). So what should I do to pass the time? Worry, be frightened? and what advice would you give me if I'm accepted, or worse off, if I'm not accepted? Thank you in advance for your words of wisdom.
Thanks for your sweet e-mail. I really appreciate your kind feedback. It's nice to know people use and gain from the column.
So, congratulations on auditioning for Yale! Your audition is on column posting day. I wish you the best of luck.
Greg, in your case, I do not recommend focusing on either worrying or being frightened, although you may be feeling both.
Here's my advice: Be very structured about how you spend your mental and emotional energy regarding this waiting process. Here is a gist of what I mean and what I would do:
After the audition, give yourself a fixed time, like two hours max, of mental and emotional processing to think about the audition itself. You can either concentrate the time directly after or spread it throughout the week after the audition.
Go over in your mind what you liked, what you could have done better, what you'll do next time, etc. When you find yourself thinking about the audition--time it. I like to process my auditions directly in the few hours after. Anyway, after your 2 hours, or however much time you assess is up AVOID thinking about the audition anymore.
When you start to daydream about whether or not you'll get in to Yale and what that will bring up, notice that you are living in the future. Make a choice and either fully commit to daydreaming, and go through the whole inner scenarios, feelings and all, or just stop and focus elsewhere. Time your daydreaming, and keep track of how much time you are spending in your imaginary responses to the results.
I think there are many more exciting ways you can channel that daydreaming energy. Join an acting class and think instead about your character and scene. Or read the play of your next audition.
In the waiting, avoid thinking too much about whether or not you got in and what you will do in either case. You will eventually get the letter. And when you do, you will know what to feel and do.
Break a leg, Greg!