The Chair: Taking Control of the Audition Space
By: Holly Powell
I always say that part of the fear an actor experiences while waiting in the lobby of the audition room before the audition is, “the fear of the unknown”. They become anxious because they don’t know what lies beyond the audition door. What does the room look like? How many people are in the room? Is there a camera in the room? Are the powerful people behind that door in good moods or bad?
A chair is the one familiar object that carries over from your living room, where you were rehearsing the audition, to the actual audition room itself. The auditors usually have a chair in the audition space in case the actor would like to use it during their audition. While rehearsing the scene at home, the actor decides whether to use a chair or not. They’ve visualized the “place” in the scene and it either involves the need to sit in the scene or stand. Either way, the actor knows that most times they will walk into the audition room and there will be that chair…their choice to use or not. This is the “make-it-or-break-it-taking-control-of-the-audition-space-moment” for the actor. There will be two options.
TAKING YOUR POWER OPTION:
The actor walks confidently through the audition door, saying “hi” to the people in the room looking each of them directly in the eye…and then they spy the chair. That’s the grounding moment. Touching base with the chair, the one familiar object from your living room to the audition room, helps the actor claim their power and the audition space. It’s now “your room, not theirs”. If chit-chat happens and then it’s time to “start”, the actor turns to the chair and moves it exactly where they want it. They can move it away out of the audition space, because they are not going to use it. Or they can leave it in the exact location it is in. But, it’s the actor’s choice and decision. The auditors can see that the actor is prepared, having made a choice. On the auditor’s side of the table, we relax a little and look forward to seeing what the actor prepared. And this is all before the first line of the audition scene.
GIVING YOUR POWER AWAY OPTION:
The actor walks tentatively through the audition room door, looking down and occasionaly glancing up shyly at the people in the audition room, apologetically eyeing the audition space for invading the auditor’s territory. “Would you like for me to stand or sit?” they ask, making sure they don’t make a wrong choice or offend. In response, they get an answer back: “Ahhh, just sit.” Instant power give-away. As the actor sits in the chair they are thinking, “Why did I ask that? I had rehearsed it standing when I was in my living room!” The auditors jump to the conclusion that the actor has not prepared properly and needs to be told what to do or that they are green and trying to please too hard. Even before the first line of the scene, they are a bit anxious thinking the actor will give an audition that feels more like winging it than an audition with prepared choices.
Of course there will be times when the actor’s best laid plans and preparation will not always go the way they want. They may have made the decision to sit in the scene and when they walk into the audition room the Casting Director is putting them on tape for Producers and asks them to stand and not move much. Always try to find out ahead of the audition if you are being put on tape. This will often make a difference as to your standing or sitting and the Casting Director may have a strong opinion about how things should go. But, usually, if you are auditioning “live” for the Casting Director, Director or Producers, you have more freedom of choice as to sitting, standing and how much you can move during the audition.
Touching base with the chair in the audition room, whether visually or actually, is the building block that helps ground an actor in the audition room. The actor has now made it “their room”. It’s their 3 minutes. And, “You Can Do Anything For 3 Minutes”.