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The Green Room: What’s the best way to handle auditions?

audition-generic Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…​​

Albert_Parker

Albert Parker is 60 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA award winning sitcoms, theatre and TV

Annie Walker is 25. Since graduating from drama school, she has worked predominantly in regional theatres and is also a writer and street performer

Vivian Lee is 38 and has played leading roles at the National, the RSC and London’s Royal Court, as well as regular TV appearances

Peter Quince, 72, works in theatre and television

Jenny Talbot, 39, has nearly 20 years of experience in West End and touring musical theatre with occasional forays into TV, film and plays

 

PeterPreparation. I don’t necessarily learn the text, but I’m very familiar with it.

Albert Yes. Off-book is nonsense. Be prepared and familiar, but it’s not a memory test.

Annie If you know who will be in the room, look them up and see what they’ve done.

Albert Check them out, but don’t tell them things about themselves they haven’t told you.

Peter Don’t be wedded to an idea. The director will want to see if you can take direction.

Albert An audition is a job. Treat it as one. Then process it and forget about it.

Jon The forgetting bit is pretty hard, isn’t it? How do we handle the wait?

Albert Don’t think about what will happen if you get it, and how nice the money will be.

Jon A friend of mine put a deposit on some digs “just in case”. And then didn’t get it.

Albert Well he’s a tit, Jon.

Jon Ha! I’ll pass that on…

Peter Be aware that they’re on your side.

Annie Once you’ve left the room there is nothing you can do. You’ve done your job and told the story for that audition.

Albert Absolutely – the reason you don’t get the job is not because you’re not good enough, but because you’re not right. If you’re not right for someone, it’s a hard thing to change.

Jenny I try to treat them as rehearsals. An opportunity to work with creatives.

Peter It irritates me that these days they don’t get back to you to say ‘No’.

Albert Those days are long gone. The best way to know if you have got the job is when you watch it and realise you’re not in it.

Jon Or you see a cast announcement on social media. ‘He’s playing it. I guess I’m not.’

Peter Be aware of the things they’re not allowed to ask – like age.

Albert The answer to “how old are you” is always: “How old would you like me to be?”

Jon Musical theatre auditions are becoming quite controversial with the amount of stuff people have to prepare. ‘Learn these three songs and this 10-page scene by tomorrow.’

Albert It is a good indicator of how hard people are willing to work.

Annie They’ve always been pretty hardcore.

Jenny There are some ridiculous demands made at short notice in the MT world. Half the time they don’t ask you to do all the material. It’s the casting director covering their back.

Peter The irritating thing about MT auditions is the number of recalls.

Jon What about the chat part? Some people say that’s trickier than the reading or singing…

Albert It can be the differentiator. If the casting director has done their job properly and put five people up for the part who could all play it, then the chat can be the decider. It’s how the director, assuming they bother to attend, can work out who they’d like to spend four weeks with in a rehearsal room.

Peter It’s always easier to be relaxed in an audition when you’re working on another job. Less desperation. You have to ask yourself if you’d enjoy working with this director.

Jon I used to get tripped up by: ‘Is there anything you’d like to ask us?’ and end up mumbling “Not really…” Now I always make sure I’m armed with a question.

Vivian An actor told me a story about how the chat lost him the part. He was being friendly and funny, using his own accent. But the part was dark, serious and threatening, and the fella who got it is sullen in real life, so the director thought ‘I’ll hire him’. Turns out the actor is silent because he is boring.

Jenny I was told once not to be so chatty as my “keenness” lost me the job. This was a TV casting. The casting director said the director wanted someone who would turn up and stand there. He didn’t need to see “personality”.

Annie God, that’s mad.

Jenny Helped me get my next few TV jobs though. Maybe TV directors want less chat, but for theatre castings the chat is more crucial.

Albert When was the last time anybody went to a TV casting when the director was there?

Annie Yeah, theatre is more about company and TV is more in and out.

Jon Be yourself, apart from when you shouldn’t.

Albert Surely it’s not difficult. If it’s a northern part, I’m northern throughout the audition, in reading and chat. If it’s posh, the same applies. If it’s Lithuanian, then I don’t go up for it.

Peter You should go for the Lithuanian roles.

Albert Less competition.

Jon Any things that are absolute no-nos?

Jenny Don’t lie! Many friends have needed last-minute riding lessons because of CV fibs.

Peter I sometimes lie when they ask me if I like the play.

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