Welcome back, again, to part 3 of MTU's audition tips series: today we'll discuss the art of choosing, preparing and delivering a fantastic monologue for your audition. Bring what they ask for. As mentioned in audition tips part 1 on general professionalism, casting directors are not just looking at how talented you are, they are also evaluating what it will be like to work with you. If they ask for a 1 minute piece of a serious nature, bring one. Show directors that you can follow simple instructions.
Choose material carefully. Don't rush through the process of choosing a monologue, and don't bring something you've performed a million times just because it's easy. Consider the time limit they've given, the genre, the mood, the character you are auditioning for, and what types of monologues you really enjoy. Similar to what we discussed in audition tips part 2 regarding song choices, you should have a book of diverse monologues that you can pull out when needed, but always be adding to your book and be willing to take risks and bring something you may never have tried before, if it's a good fit for a project. Selections may be made from musicals, plays, or film.
Avoid monologues that are overdone. Just as with songs, avoid the ones that directors are likely to hear hundreds of times, and they will appreciate hearing something fresh and new that catches their interest. When you choose a song or monologue that the general public (a non-theatre-geek!) recognizes, that's a good indication that it's probably not a good choice for an audition, because casting directors will have a hard time seeing you in the role, rather than the celebrity that made it famous. For more suggestions on monologue choices, pick up our eBook, The Musical Theatre Performer's Guide to Audition Success.
Choose a piece that allows you to make strong choices. Try to find something that not only fits all the above criteria, but also includes a sense of conflict, a change of emotion, or an arc in the storytelling. It will be much easier for you to show your acting skills if you have a chance to be angry, nonchalant, and relieved, all in one piece, for example, rather than angry the entire time, which will feel flat to both you and the panel watching you. Brush up on characterization and acting tips with our eBook, Sensational Scenes and Songs, which includes preparatory exercises for monologue performances.
Warm up before arrival. Be both physically and vocally warmed up before you get to your audition, as there won't be time set aside to do this after you get there. For a quick guide to warming up, click here.
Announce your piece, including the name of the play and playwright. There's no need to describe the plot, which takes up precious seconds of your allotted time. If casting directors are unfamiliar or curious, they will questions afterward.
Take the time to understand your material. A short monologue is nearly impossible to deliver truthfully without understanding it within the context of the play, the all-important "moment before," and your character's main desires and conflicts. If it's a popular show, see it live or on film, or find the script and read the entire thing (scripts can be found at local libraries or for purchase on Amazon.com). Again speaking to professionalism, it's important that you are perceived as someone who does the hard work of researching the background of your monologue. Research does take time but it pays off many times over.
Be 100% confident in your memorization. This seems like common sense.....but it can't be stressed enough, since there is nothing worse than having a perfectly good audition opportunity tarnished by forgetting a line and losing your confidence. If you have already created an audition book and can easily pick from a few pieces that you have already memorized, great, but if you're working on something new, start early! Give yourself plenty of time, preferably weeks, for memorization to sink in. It is physically impossible for memorization to be rushed - it needs time to absorb fully, it requires repetition and, oddly enough, sleep, in order to integrate into your brain. Start with small chunks, 1-2 sentences at a time, and add to it every 1-2 days. For more tips, see our memorization guide.
Take preventative measures against performance anxiety. If you get nervous during auditions, that's normal. A little bit of nerves is healthy and can benefit your performance. If you sense that anxiety is taking away, rather than adding to your audition, pick up our eBook on Overcoming Performance Anxiety for Musical Theatre to learn what happens to the body during an audition and how you can use it to your benefit, rather than your detriment. Meditation can also be extremely helpful for performing artists to get relaxed before they walk into the audition room - learn more about that here.
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