Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ten Audition Tips From Travis Brisini

Thinking about auditioning for a play at Slidell Little Theatre? During the course of the season, Slidell Little Theatre is asking each of our directors for advice that we hope will provide you with the information you need to better prepare for auditions and give you the encouragement you need to audition again and again.
On Stage Oct. 4 - 20
Just as we launch the new season in just a few days with the opening of Seussical, we immediately set our sights on the next show on the slate – Mitch Albom’s comedy, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, directed by Travis Brisini.

Auditions will be held Sunday, August 18 and Monday, August 19, beginning at 7 p.m. at Slidell Little Theatre, located at 2024 Nellie Drive.

In preparation for auditions, detailed character descriptions for Duck Hunter Shoots Angel can also be found elsewhere on our blog here.

We asked Travis to provide us with his Top Ten Tips to Prepare for Auditions. Here is his advice:

  1. Do Your Research: The first step in a successful audition process is to be as well informed as possible. While it’s important to become familiar with the piece for which you’re auditioning, being truly well informed goes beyond simply knowing what the play is about. Look up the director on the internet—what else have they directed? Do you see a pattern in the type of person they cast for the sorts of roles you’d like? People develop patterns of behavior over time, and directors are no different.

  1. Make Sure You’re Aware of the Audition Process: Will you need a monologue? A solo vocal piece? Will there be an accompanist, or should you bring your own backing track? Is there going to be a cold reading aspect? Are there going to be multiple days of auditions, or is it one day only? Making sure you’re well prepared will lessen your overall anxiety. 

  1. Strategize: Once you’ve learned as much as you can about the piece for which you’ll be auditioning and how the audition is going to be run, it’s time to start strategizing. An important (and overlooked) element of the audition process is choosing a complimentary monologue or vocal sample. This is done by assessing the overall tone of the play for which you’re auditioning (Is it funny? Serious? For adults or kids? Dark and disturbing? Wacky?), then picking something similar but not identical. The thought here is that you can demonstrate the particular set of skills that are relevant, without using the actual songs or text from the piece for which you’re auditioning.

  1. Your Best Is Not Always THE Best: People often get confused and think that their audition song or monologue should be the song that they sound best singing, or the piece that best shows off their acting…regardless of whether or not that piece has any complimentary characteristics to the piece for which they’re auditioning. In other words, your very best vocal sample may be a truly impressive Wagnerian opera…but that’s not going to demonstrate to a director that you’re suitable for “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.” By selecting a piece that demonstrates relevant qualities—while still sounding good or acting well—you make it easier for the director to imagine you in a role.

  1. Timeliness: Arrive early for your audition. This is a courtesy to the director and to your potential future cast-mates. It prevents you from interrupting an audition-in-progress, and helps assure the director that you’re going to be a timely, responsible cast-member. As an added bonus, having a few minutes to look around the space, familiarize yourself with the setup, and calm your nerves will make worlds of difference in your audition performance.

  1. Eagerness: As a director, I have no interest in cajoling people into getting on stage. My ideal cast members are those people who are eager to perform, comfortable with the idea of standing up in front of total strangers and giving it their all (don’t forget: you’ll be doing a lot more of that, if you’re lucky). When the director asks for volunteers, put yourself out there. Remember that you’re making an impression the entire time that you’re at the audition—not just when you’re on stage.

  1. Don’t Overestimate the Talent of Your Fellow Auditioners: It can sometimes be daunting when someone stands up immediately before your chance to audition and makes a big impression: a wonderful dancer, beautiful singer or emotive actor. Instead of getting discouraged or intimidated, it’s important to remember that you’re not quite sure what the director is looking for, just yet. It could be precisely the sort of acting at which you’re best, or the type of character you were born to play. There really is some wisdom in doing your best: the right parts will inevitably come to you.  
  1. Be Gracious: It’s important to thank the people who are giving you the chance to get involved in the theatre. This includes the director, the producer, the accompanist, the music director and anyone else on the production team that’s present at the audition. A simple “Thank You”—particularly to the accompanist—is enough to set you apart from the sea of people who take the labor of the theatre for granted.

  1. Warm It Up: Heading into an audition without properly warming yourself up is a recipe for disaster. Stretch, warm up your voice, move around and work out the nervous energy. There’s no telling what you’ll be asked to do by the production team; better safe than sorry.

  1. Relax: The audition process, like anything else in the theatre, is a skill: it takes time to become competent, and about the only way to get better at it is to do it. If you get the part, that’s a wonderful outcome. If you don’t, take consolation in the fact that every time you audition, you’ll get more comfortable and confident. Acting is something of a long-con: the more you do it, the longer you’re surrounded by it and the more you pretend to be good at it, the better you’ll actually become.    

About Travis Brisini

Travis Brisini is a frequent contributor to the Slidell Little Theatre community, particularly the Theatre for Young Audiences series. A graduate of LSU with a Ph.D. in Performance Studies, Travis has written, directed or performed a wide variety of pieces ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde. When not at the theatre, he can be found reading, writing and gardening.

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