Master Talent Teacher Joe Tremaine has a conversation with the recent LA transplant, Tiffany Maher, about her already blossoming dance career and the move to LA.
By Diane Christiansen
Auditioning is hard. It is arguably the most difficult aspect of acting. The actor’s imagination must be at it’s sharpest during the audition. You must be able to walk into a bare room and completely transform the environment and energy of the space, leaving an indelible impression on your observers. In other words, you need to “Pop” at every audition. Here are a few pointers to help you get poppin’.
- Treat each audition like it’s the first rehearsal. You know that excited feeling you get during your first rehearsal for a production? The security of knowing that you’ve already landed the role allows you to just relax, have fun, and be creative. You might find yourself taking chances and playing with new choices until you land on one that feels right. This is the same worry-free abandon that you need to bring to the audition. Think of it less as an interview and more as a collaboration between you and whoever is in the room. Go into the audition knowing that you have already done the necessary preparation of your character and be ready to play with your fellow collaborators. Not only will your positive energy be infectious, but you will also give a better performance as a result of swapping the audition tension for first rehearsal enthusiasm.
- Find opportunities for nuance. Think fine point details rather than sweeping brush strokes. Finding moments to make your own unique mark on your character will speak volumes in your performance. Don’t overlook the obvious choices readily evident in the script, but also look deeper into the subtext behind the written words. You may discover alternate interpretations of the lines that only you will find based on your own personal experiences and perspective. As a result, you can make the material your own by bringing an interpretation that only you can to the audition. Whether your interpretation is consistent with what the director wants is less important (at least on the first read) than making a committed and nuanced choice that will leave an impression different from anyone else.
- Take control of your audition. From the moment you walk into the room, let it be known that this is not your first rodeo. Be a professional. Be confident (or at least fake it!). Greet each person in the room as you enter and say thank you to everyone as you leave. Feel free to set parameters to get you in the proper mind space for your reading. Let your observers know if you need to take moment before you begin and if you will sit or stand (if the option is yours). Make eye contact with each person at some point while you are in the room, so that every individual there knows that you have seen them and so you know that they have each seen you too. Remember, over the course of a full day of auditions, it can become increasingly difficult for casting to distinguish one person from the next. Auditions may start to run together as fatigue sets in and attention wanes. You have the opportunity to fight against the monotony that casting may experience by making a specific connection and giving them something interesting about you to remember. Of course, your performance should be memorable all on it’s own; however, given two equally great performances from different actors, your personality, poise, and professionalism may break the tie. Talent is certainly a prerequisite for the best roles, but people also have to like you and want to work with you. So steer the course of your audition to ensure that you are being represented in your best light.
In the acting business, actors must have confidence in their talents and themselves in order to deal with the challenges and always be able to bring their best game to their meetings, auditions and work. Confidence is an essential “personal tool” for everyone but especially for actors and performers.
For many actors, confidence is innate. For some, it may be cultivated by family and friend support and/or life experiences. For most, confidence needs to be nurtured and developed. If the later is you then consider this theory that I believe works:
- * Experience creates confidence.
- * Confidence produces freedom.
- * Freedom generates courage.
- * Courage frees up you and your talent.
The more you do anything, the more experienced and skillful you become. So the more you properly study, rehearse, audition and work, the better actor you are going to be.
Actors gain confidence when they have successes and “wins”: when they get auditions, secure representation, receive good feedback or reviews, get callbacks and book jobs, etc. Unfortunately, these successes are dependent on the acceptance of others thus it is unreliable and a shortage of achievements can undermine it.
Confidence in your talent is powerful and depends mainly on your willingness to take chances, fail, learn, get up and do it again AND always be supportive of yourself. (A great class that helps build confidence is a professional Improvization workshop.) With confidence developed through challenging experiences, you are not dependent on anyone else to feel successful.
Do what it takes to build your confidence. It should have a powerful affect on your ability to feel good about yourself, thus do your best auditions and your best acting work.
As actors, a big part of your career is out of your control. You gain and lose roles for a myriad of reasons.
- * You can be: too tall, too short, too heavy, too thin, too young, too old.
- * You can remind a producer of their ex.
- * You can share a name with someone that they know.
- * It’s frustrating. It’s ridiculous.
- * The reality is, the decision making process is out of your hands.
If it’s out of your control, then what do you do?
- * You prepare.
- * You build your skills so that when the opportunity comes, you can pounce on it.
- * Once you learn a skill, it’s yours forever. Nobody can take it away from you. Skills are what separate you from the next actor. Skills cannot be argued. You either have a skill or you don’t.
You know the best thing about skills?
- * Once you learn them, they only get BETTER. For the rest of your life.
- * That’s a pretty incredible thing.
- * Dialects are a SKILL. Learning a dialect requires time and energy.
Training, a great attitude, and specialized skills beat talent every time!
Donald The Dialect Coach
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