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Audition Master Class Recap: Booking The Room

October 12, 2012

With new jobs, gigs, and life going full speed just after graduation, it can become challenging to find the time to get into a classroom. I was able to take some time this past Saturday to visit my grandparents and attend an Audition Techniques Master Class led by Richard Vida, fresh of his year on tour as Thenardier in the 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Miserables. I grew up hearing Richard’s name because he is somewhat of a celebrity in Newington, CT-having gone to the local high school (with my mom) and making a name for himself on Broadway. Not only was he a delight to spend the afternoon with, but he also provided us with a lot of valuable information to be applied to auditioning and performing, which I have summarized for you!

“Visualize The Goal” -Richard started off by asking to write on an index card what we wanted to take away from the class. I wrote, “In this class I hope to learn where the roadblocks appear in an audition setting. Where/when/how does tension crop up? Can I  breathe through it and stay connected to my material and still deliver?” I then freaked out because I thought, “OH GOD! Now I have to reveal this personal thing that I struggle with to this group of people I have never met before!,” but he saved the day when he told us to fold it up and put in our pockets. He said everyone will learn something about themselves today, and hopefully it will satisfy what we wrote down. Phew.

“Book The Room” -A lot more rides on the initial impression we make when we walk through the door than we realize. Richard called this “Booking The Room.” He asked us to think of three words that describe how we would like to be perceived. He then asked us to each leave the room and re-enter as if it were into an audition room, keeping the words in mind. We then provided feedback by guessing what the adjectives or qualities were based on our perception of the person. My three words weren’t were poise, honesty, and “to be in the room,” and I am proud to report that my feedback support those choices! My acting coach and mentor always told me to think of three things to bring on stage in a performance, but I never thought of bringing them into an audition room before. So simple!

“Be Prepared” -The preparation technique discussed next is more applicable to a “callback” situation where you will have had some time to look over material. But you never know when you have to be ready to read sides cold. To prepare for these circumstances, Richard introduced “The Twelve Guideposts” from Audition by Michael Shurtleff (GREAT book). They are the Relationship, the Conflict, the Moment Before, the Humor (not jokes), the Opposites, the Discoveries, Communication and Competition, the Importance (or stakes), Find the Events, the Place, Game Playing and Role Playing, and Mystery and Secrecy. Of course if you are handed a side and given 5 minutes to look it over, you won’t have time to run through all twelve guide posts, but they are a valuable list of qualities to help authenticate a performance. Not only are they applicable to sides and monologues, but audition songs as well.

“Be Specific” -Specificity seems like a given in any performance or audition, but it can also be the most enigmatic because it has to do with changing your audience. In an audition room, you are not always going to have the full, undivided attention of everyone at the casting table as you would in a performance setting, BUT you can certainly grab attention by adding specificity to your audition. Here’s my example from class: I was using “Pulled” from The Addams Family, and in that song Wednesday is going back and forth in what is essentially a contemporary musical theatre soliloquy about her new-found love. She is asking herself why on earth she is feeling the pulls on her heartstrings which is something I definitely can relate to. When you really ask the questions put forth in the lyrics, and then really answer them, the game changes. You grab the attention of the room and they come along for the 32-bar ride.

“Be Yourself” -Being yourself is probably the HARDEST part about auditioning and performing because we are becoming a character, but it is arguably the most important part. You have to know who you are, what you bring to the table, and what you can bring to the character, because YOU are the one who will be acting, singing, and dancing in the role. The audition scene can be brutal. You feel like a face in the ground or a number on an endless sign-in sheet, but you have something that the others on that list don’t. It could be a secret talent, a compelling story about your past, or a weird quirk, but it’s YOURS. Take that into the audition room with you as your little glowing light and it can make a world of difference.

I could go on and on about the amazing experience I had in the presence of one of my childhood idols, but I won’t bore you with the play-by-play. I will leave you with one last thing: I learned on Saturday that what makes a good audition is not necessarily booking the job, it’s booking the room. Because let’s face it, you could nail every audition, but you won’t be right for every part you show up to read for. But by remembering these 5 things: Visualize the Goal, Book the Room, Be Prepared, Be Specific, and Be Yourself, you will be sure to leave an impression.

I know how I will prepare for my next audition, and I am confident it will be a success! Do you have some go-to audition tactics?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2012 10:53 am

    Thanks for sharing everything you learned with us!

  2. California Triple-Threat permalink
    October 14, 2012 2:46 pm

    Great post! I even took notes from your notes. 🙂 thanks!

  3. The Growing Artist permalink
    October 15, 2012 10:50 am

    Very nice post! I really enjoyed reading it, and I will be keeping these tips in mind at my next audition!

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  1. Sunday Summary — October 14, 2012 « The Green Room

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