Dear West End Producer: ‘Why can’t I get an acting job?’
Why can’t I get a job
— eleanor shaw (@ellie_shaw) November 28, 2017
There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps you are ill-prepared for auditions, or maybe you simply have no talent. No one ever said it was easy being an actor, and I’m afraid it gets harder every year.
The acting industry is, as everyone knows, oversubscribed. So you have to try to be at your best at all times. If an audition comes through, make sure you are prepared for it. Do your research, learn as much of the material as possible and try not to turn into a gibbering mess. You will be competing with hundreds of other desperate dramatics, and if you don’t put the effort in, someone else will.
So, dear reader, to help in your quest for acting employment, here is a list of essential things you need to do – and some others that are best avoided:
How to get an acting job: Dos
• Make sure you face the panel.
• Prepare any material that has been sent to you before your casting.
• Stay calm. Breathe. And don’t wee yourself when singing high notes.
• Say your lines in the right order, with as little dribble as possible.
• Compliment the audition panel on their previous work (even if you haven’t seen any).
• Treat the audition as a rehearsal – as if you’ve already got the job and are just working on your character.
• Take a spare song with you, just in case the director is sick to death of the other ones you’ve brought along. And if all else fails, just sing the theme tune to Jurassic Park.
• Know your speeches off by heart, backwards, upside down and the wrong way around. This prevents you getting put off when the casting director yawns during your monologue.
• Stick a copy of your headshot and CV on the back of your jumper so the director will definitely know who you are.
• Have a water bottle with you, and take at least five sips during the casting. This proves that you are a professional.
• Be polite and thank everyone for seeing you. Avoid swearing, spitting and overacting (unless auditioning for Shrek).
• Mark any music correctly, and tell the pianist the exact speed and any changes that occur. If the pianist goes wrong, stare at them rudely and mouth ‘thanks for nothing’ at the end.
• Leave them wanting more. A two-minute speech is much better than a four-minute speech. And a one-minute speech is even better still.
How to get an acting job: Don’ts
• Bribe the audition panel. Unless you are willing to stump up more than £500 in cash.
• Slam the door when you walk in, as you may wake up the casting director.
• Ask too many questions. Directors hate questions. It makes them worry that you may be more intelligent than they are.
• Slag off other directors and shows you’ve worked on.
• Drink too much coffee before your audition. It can cause palpitations, redness of the face and give you espresso halitosis.
• Say “see you later” as you leave your audition – because the chances are you won’t.
Adhere to the above guidelines and you will find yourself in a job in no time, although I can’t guarantee what kind of job – it may be stacking shelves in Aldi.
But as long as you do it while humming show tunes it will be fine, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.