My writing 5 class casted our show Monday night in a long and arduous process that lasted late into the night. This process included auditioning a whole mess of people, sneaking off to get more coffee and finally wrestling over who we wanted to cast. Since the audition was for two writing 5 shows (we combined with another class for auditioning purposes), the final step was for the directors of the two shows to take our choices from the talent pool and fight it out for the final casting.
It was strange being on the deciding end of the audition process. I did some directing when I was in college, but I knew most of the people in the talent pool, so auditioning was a lot easier. This time, I only knew one person from before hand and recognized only a handful of others. It was almost like a real audition.
As a result of my foray into the audition process, I've learned a couple of things to do and not to do when auditioning. Most of these tips I've heard before from directors, teachers, etc. but actually seeing this stuff in person really punctuates it. I thought I would share them with all three of you people reading because, for the moment, I have nothing better to write about.
(1) Don't wear black. It's actorish; it's slimming; it's chic. Ultimately, it's not terribly helpful to the people casting the show. At the end of the night, when they're sitting around trying to remind each other who you were, it doesn't help to reference you as "the guy with the black" when half the people in the audition were wearing black.
(2) You can smile at the casting people. There's no law against it and, in fact, I kind of like knowing that the auditionee has enough personal skills to at least acknowledge the other people in the room.
(3) But don't go out of your way to brown-nose either. And if you know someone in the casting group, just say 'hi' and move on. Don't have a long catch-up conversation. And don't give that person knowing winks, as though to say "I can't wait for you to cast me."
(4) At least learn your acting basics. I can't tell you how many people I saw who didn't enunciate, didn't speak loud enough, didn't turn out so that we could see them acting, etc. They're casting actors, not funny people.
(5) When you audition in a large group, you might be asked to give your name and a random fact about yourself. If that happens, just give something simple or something unique. It's not a standup routine, so there's no need to wow the casting people with something witty or hilarious. We had one guy who tried something like "Hi, I'm Johann and I like to stare at fountains all day." Dead, uncomfortable silence.
(6) Sometimes you will be asked to read sides. If you are asked, while the casting people would probably prefer that occasionally you look up while reading the lines, keep in mind that nobody expects you to be off book. So don't freak out. And don't start making up lines and ad libbing because your scene partner is going to wonder what they hell you're doing, which will freak them out and make you look bad. Especially if the writer is in the room.
(7) When you are asked to read sides, you are not expected to nail the character on the head. The casting group is looking for someone who can make choices and stick with them.
(8) Ultimately, when we were casting, we were looking for people who, in addition to basic acting skills and choice making, could relax and be comfortable in front of an audience. Auditioning is one of the most terrifying things an actor has to do, so one thing that will set you apart right away from most other people in the audition is to go in and have a good time.
And, above all else, offer the Director fellatio. That usually does the trick.