5 Things NOT to do at an Audition

Auditions!Our student directors recently cast their spring plays and have some advice for next year’s auditionees.

1. Don’t Confess That You Aren’t Prepared

It never pays to advertise, and letting the director of the play of which you hope to be cast know this, makes no sense. This problem has more to do with boundaries than confessions, as auditionees are trying to be chummy, albeit honest, with their friends, the directors. Yet these student directors have done tons of homework to be prepared to direct their plays; admitting you haven’t is akin to telling a potential employer you plan to just wing it through the job interview.

2. Don’t Forget to Read the Audition Announcement Handout

All our shows here at NSHS come with directions, aka, a one-sheet handout that tells students where, when, and how to do perform the audition. How embarrassing for you if you show up to the musical theatre audition in your new shoes and sparkly outfit, rather than comfortable dance clothes so you can learn the dance steps! This connects to number one above, not being prepared.

3. Don’t Look @ Your Feet/Floor/Ceiling

Looking at the ceiling is a universal sign of trying to remember your next line. Trust us when we say that the the gods of theatre will not help you, as Thespis is way too busy helping actors who have prepared. Looking at your feet signals that you are shy. Good heavens! You want to be cast, don’t you? Open up your mouth, raise that chin and look at us. But be sure to scan the entire audience. Don’t focus on the director solely, because that gets creepy too.

4. Don’t Speak Softly

It’s crazy, I know, but we have seen tons of students sign up to audition and have been so surprised when we can never actually hear them. In our theatre, quaintly referred to as, “The Little Theatre,” we don’t mic our actors. If we can’t hear you in an audition, trust us when we say we are hesitant to cast you, even in the hopes that you will speak up for performances. Refusing to project in the theatre indicates an inability to communicate and theatre is ALL about communication.

Not sure if you are loud enough? Enlist a friend or two and recite your monologue or sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” from increasingly farther apart distances. Start @ 10 feet, then progress to 20. How far can your friend before she can’t hear you well?

5. Don’t be a Diva

Being nice to someone is not only the golden rule, it’s tantamount to success in the theatre. We typically end auditions here at NSHS Theatre with a short improv scene. Now in improv, the goal is to say “Yes,” to every idea, even if it’s silly or has no real place in the scene. Too often though, that essential give-and-take in an improv scene is lost because someone is showboating. The guilty party will seek to make the scene be all about him, or worse yet, talk on top of everyone until the scene is full of actors shouting to be heard. Can we say, “Nightmare?!” While movies make it seem that divas rule the stage, real actors know better. Be polite. Take your turn. Give someone something to work with in your scene rather than take something. 

Leave a Comment or Offer Some Sage Advice Below

So what other things should an actor be sure NOT to do at an audition?

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Categories: Acting

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31 replies

  1. I can totally relate to this being a director of a dance team. Showing that you’re nervous really does make a difference, but it may also help you out by showing that you are genuinely concerned and that you are.

  2. At an audition you shouldn’t be quiet because that shows you aren’t confident. It can be nerve wrecking but you just have to breathe and have confidence.

  3. I’ve got to admit that auditioning can be hard and these tips make you a lot more confident and prepared for what you will face. I auditioned for my very first play this year as a freshman and by far it has been one of my best choices ever. Although i did make a few mistakes while auditioning i learned from them and plan on doing better next time. (the tips really do help when you pay attention to them!)

  4. These instructions are on point & very true because when I’m trying to remember something, I realized that I look up! You should always make sure you are ready before your audition and look prepared because if you do the opposite , it’s embarrassing and very awkward

  5. the comment on not looking at the floor and cieling is so true! many people have a bad habit of staring off into space or just being shy, i myself am guilty of looking everywhere but the auidenece!

  6. I agree with Sabrina 5. People trying out should never have a soft voice, but rather a strong and resilient voice that captures positive attention.

  7. Don’t confess that you aren’t ready is what a lot of kids do when they’re about to perform. I think it’s just a nervous feeling everyone gets. But after you perform you realize how fast it went by.

    • Danielle: It never pays to advertise that you aren’t ready to perform. Yet I hear you when you say that it’s just nerves. These nerves tell us that doing well is important.

    • I agree with you Danielle, I totally think it’s the nerves that make you blurt out that you aren’t prepared. it happened to me when I auditioning for the three oranges… thankfully i learned from my mistakes and won’t be doing that again.

  8. I definitely agree with these.. I’ve done improv scenes before where my scene partner says, “No” to everything & leaves me to die awkwardly onstage under the vulture eyes of a silent crowd. This article will help future audition hopefuls to avoid that same panic.
    ~Mavey, Pd.5

  9. I thought the tip on not being soft spoken is helpful! I know I’m loud off the stage but I feel like once I’m on onstage I get quieter!!

  10. Just go audition with confidence and understand what your auditioning for be for you audition to prevent stage fright.

  11. Auditioning for a part in a play is similar to applying and interviewing for a job. These tips will help me when I apply for a job as a Life Guard this summer! As I interview for the first time in my life I will remember to speak clearly and confidently as well as look at my interviewer. Thank you for all your help this year Rillingale!

  12. From my past experiences, I would say being prepared is the biggest tip here. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable onstage if I wasn’t prepared!

  13. These tips have helped me personally, not audition wise, but just being in your class. We have performed so many things that I have really learned how to present myself in front of people. Looking at my feet and speaking softly are two habits I have officially broken when I perform!

  14. These tips are really helpful! They seem like common sense at first glance, but it is a lot harder to maintain yourself on stage with a spotlight and all…

  15. These 5 tips are very helpful. One of the 5 tips taught me, it is good being honest but never confess that your not prepared because it only shows your being sloppy.

  16. In an earlier life I produced off-broadway shows. It always amazed me how many actors professed to not being prepared or not having read the requirements, as if in their honesty I would excuse them sympathetically, when in fact it just vexed me for waisting my time, and I crossed them off before they started.If one can’t follow directions or prepare for the most important first impression, then they won’t be prepared for rehearsals or listen to the director.

    These are also good lessons for life.. be prepared, speak to be heard as though you have something to say or don’t speak, learn humility (as opposed to self-deprecation).
    Thank you

    • Dear Granny Beth: Off Broadway shows–how exciting that must have been! Here I am thinking it’s only high school actors who admit to not being prepared. What were those adult actors thinking? A pat on the head? I can certainly relate to being vexed…

      In the theatre we often quip that life is no dress rehearsal. That first impression is key. Thanks for dropping by and offering some wisdom.

  17. Great information – not just for auditions but for life, in general! I’ve had so many people come into work-related interviews and do many of the things listed above. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Love this and it applies to so many things in life doesn’t it! I can think of so many things that these principles would benefit! I will be using them with my daughter as we go though her homeschool days. She has ballet and other things that come up where auditions happen and these will come in handy.

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