Meryl Streep once said, “acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” The beginning of this fall semester also marks the start of a hectic frenzy of auditions. Any student is able to take part in these activities at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County if they so choose. Many clubs and organizations just recently held their first set of auditions and some of the participants might now be asking themselves, what went wrong?
The most important thing to remember is that one bad audition does not mean the end of a person’s acting career. Perhaps there was someone else that better suited the director’s vision or someone that gave an overall objectively better audition. Bad auditions are something every actor can share something about, usually along with an entertaining story or two. Famous actress Rosalind Russell says “acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.”
Bad auditions are still beneficial in the long run because they give the actor a chance to grow and learn from their mistakes. Many times, directors are willing to give constructive feedback about individual auditions. This not only gives the actor an idea of what that particular director is looking for but also provides them with something to work on until it is time to audition again.
One of the most important things to remember is that the directors or directing teams are people as well. In most cases, these directors have to watch hundreds of auditions in the course of a few days. As actors and actresses, there are some crucial things to keep in mind. Alan Kreizenbeck, a professor in UMBC’s theatre department was able to offer an insider’s perspective.
He says there should be a decent amount of thought put into the chosen audition pieces. “You want to show some variety; you want to do things that are close to you that you can really relate to. You want to show a willingness to accommodate [the director’s] suggestions, to show your flexibility,” Kreizenbeck said. He also mentioned the importance of attitude: “[If] you act like you don’t want to be there, why would I want to cast you? You have to come in energetic, friendly, open … with confidence, but not arrogance.”
Lastly, he emphasized the importance of physicality, which could be described simply as a connection between the emotions conveyed in the audition piece and the movements associated with it. “You need to learn who you’re talking to,” Kreizenbeck said. To act does not simply mean to be emotional, but more so about having the ability to fully express any emotions the character could be feeling.
Photo Credit: Mason Blacker auditions for Musical Theatre Club’s Fall Showcase. Photo by Elizabeth Baummer.