- Notes to the Aspiring Actor
By Chris Freihofer
Actor, Casting Director, Film Producer
WE'RE ON YOUR SIDE, BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
You know the old stereotype. The grumpy table of producers, casting directors and general discontents sit at a backlit, smoky table, frowning at you as you make your way through a well-rehearsed audition. You give your all; you give of yourself, only to be treated rudely, followed by a bellowed "Next!"
That's what we think auditions are, right? I mean, that's what they taught us in school. That's what they show us in movies and on unrealistic reality television. That's the stereotype. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Oh sure, there are some Grumpy-Gusses out there that revel at the idea of sitting on their casting throne, loving the opportunity to finally be the one that rejects these actors. But those posers--mostly embittered failed actors--are few and far-between. Especially in markets like Oklahoma. What you are generally going to find in a professional audition for film and television are pleasant, friendly people.
Wanna know a secret? We're on your side. We are eager to meet you. We can't wait for you to succeed.
Here's why: we want you to end our day. We want you to be the one we have been looking for for hours, days, maybe even weeks.
Each time that door opens to the casting office, we look in hopeful anticipation at the actor that will nail this script, will be the perfect actor for the role, will have great understanding of the material and put us at ease. We are looking for the actor that is relaxed, professional, and easy to work with.
To the actor...
WHAT SELECTIONS SHOULD I DO?
The adjudicators are looking for a range of talent, so pick selections that best display your abilities. Two contrasting pieces are required, and one must be from a contemporary play. This could mean a comedy piece and a drama piece, but it could also mean a classical piece (Shakespeare, Moliere, Ibsen) and a modern piece (one written in the past 30 years).
Make sure your pieces best display your talents and your personality. Avoid what is known as 'passive' monologues, or ones that tell stories about the past. Those are inactive and show very little character--they take the actor out of the moment. Try to find selections that are 'active'; that is, ones that are talking to a specific character and are either confrontational or enlightening.
Any first-person monologue is fine, but there are selections the adjudicators see on a frequent basis and should be avoided. Some of those monologues are:
'CLEAR GLASS MARBLES'
HAMLET'S 'TO BE OR NOT TO BE'
MACBETH'S DAGGER SPEECH
THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS
THE SHADOW BOX
THE STAR-SPANGLED GIRL
There are a number of websites that help actors find monologues. Find ones you enjoy and have fun.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
It is not necessary to wear your 'Sunday best' for the audition. Boys, you do not need to wear suits and ties. Girls, your Easter dresses are not needed.
Look nice, but casual. Clean, good-fitting clothes that send the message that you take yourself seriously. Avoid clothes that are too tight and restricting. Likewise, avoid clothing that is too loose and baggy. Do not show too much skin.
Shoe selection is also important. Do not wear flip-flops or shoes that are too 'tall' and ladies, refrain from spiked heels. You don't want noisy, cumbersome or ill-fitting shoes detracting attention away from your performance.
Again, treat yourself and your appearance as professionally as you want to be treated.
WHERE SHOULD I LOOK?
When performing your monologue, to is important the adjudicators see you 'playing to' another character, but actors are sometimes confused where they should direct their audition piece.
Imagine the adjudicators are at the twelve-o'clock position of the clock. Now pick a spot on the...