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Dear West End Producer: ‘Is it ever acceptable to audition naked in an effort to stand out from the pack?’

David Harewood. Photo: Shutterstock David Harewood. Photo: Shutterstock
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My dear Mr Harewood, it depends on the play. If you are going in for Macbeth, turning up naked would certainly make your audition memorable: “Is this a dagger which I see before me?”. But if your audition is for something a little more revealing, such as Puppetry of the Penis, then most people will be going in naked anyway, so your flaccid little fella won’t be unusual at all. In fact you’d stand out more if you went in fully clothed.

However, your question does raise an interesting point – what should an actor do to stand out?. In my illustrious career, I’ve seen actors resorting to all sorts of desperate measures – usually resulting in them looking more embarrassing than the remake of Open All Hours. So let’s start by stating what things you shouldn’t do:

Don’t do the splits when entering the audition room – that should be saved for when you leave

Don’t wear loud and revealing clothing (with your headshot branded on your T-shirt).

Don’t do the splits when entering the audition room – that should be saved for when you leave.

Avoid trying to show every emotion in your monologue. We really don’t need to see anger, laughter, crying, shouting, flirting and constipation in a one-minute speech.

Never offer bribes of chocolates, wine or Ann Summers vouchers.

Don’t say “scene” at the end of everything you say – it took me an age to stop Michael Ball doing this.

Don’t do a speech in which you constantly shout and swear at the panel.

Don’t bring in an army of backing dancers and musicians to accompany you.

Never refuse to leave the room until you get a guaranteed recall.

And don’t lie that your father will invest £100,000 in the show if they cast you – unless you do have a rich daddy. How do you think the leading actors at the Royal Shakespeare Company got their jobs?

Obviously, the best way of standing out is by being good. If you’re well prepared, say the lines in the right order (without spitting all over the panel), and happen to look right. Then you’ll automatically be one we’ll remember. After all, we’re looking for someone who is right for the job, not someone who looks good naked (if that’s what you want, contact Gok Wan or apply for the next series of Naked Attraction). Your aim is to stand out for the right reasons.

As for you, David, I think you have a pretty good career already. While your nakedness would certainly cause interest and excitement in an audition room, I think it would be far safer and more professional to cover your modesty with a nice pair of theatrical show pants.

You may simply look like you only want to audition for small parts (particularly in this cold weather)

Besides, naked auditioning can have unwanted side effects. You may end up standing up for the pack, or simply look like you only want to audition for small parts (particularly in this cold weather). So stay clothed, say your lines with feeling, stand in the right place and keep your pants on. Good luck, dear.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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