In my last post, I outlined how to identify the sources of nerves at each stage of the audition process. Once you’ve pinpointed what is making you nervous you can then take action to combat it.
Waiting for the Phone to Ring …
Waiting for auditions can be the most passive and frustrating part of being an actor. Instead of seeing this as dead time, you should use it productively to get yourself ready for castings.
Find a class or coach to sharpen up your skills, including faster line-learning.Try The Actors Centre, find a coach from The Actor’s Yearbook, ask your drama school to set up a graduate class or do something with mates.
Get access to a camera and practise self-taping. Check out Nancy Bishop’s ’Secrets From the Casting Couch' for tips.
Find the right survival job. It needs to be flexible, pay enough and not leave you feeling drained. In fact, I wrote on this previously, here.
Get yourself match-fit. Sleeping, eating and exercising properly will give you greater focus, and more energy and confidence. And you won’t have to worry about looking bleary-eyed greeting the panel or reading on camera.
Before the Audition …
Take practical steps to avoid what makes you nervous. There are three things types of activity that will help: increasing your focus, calming yourself and distraction. Try these before you leave for the meeting, on your journey and in the waiting area before the audition.
Increasing focus e.g. … going over your lines and preparation again, researching the panel, thinking about your aims in the audition room.
Calming … yoga, breathing exercises, Alexander Technique … having a cup of tea!
Distracting …reading, listening to music, chatting to the other auditionees.
Be prepared for everything to change. You may have been told that you were meeting a casting assistant but enter the room to find the director, their assistant, the writer and four executive producers.
Bring as little in with you as possible. Leave bags and coats in the waiting area, or with the casting assistant or receptionist if you are worried about security.
If they offer you water from a jug and you’re feeling nervous, leave it! It will be an absolute trial and you’ll become self-conscious.
Trust in your normal social skills. Trying to make an impression when you greet or chat to the panel is unnecessary and will come across as false. And don’t put pressure on yourself to ask an interesting question about the play or project if you can’t think of anything.
If you are given direction and don’t understand it, always ask for clarification, in the same way that you would on set or in the rehearsal room.
And remember … forgetting your lines isn’t the end of the world:
As soon as you’ve left the building your aim should be to forget about the audition. Three steps: feedback, making a record of the meeting and positive distraction.
Feedback ... evaluating what you did well and what you could improve on for next time. Keep this to practical things that are within your control e.g. ‘Going over my lines with a friend helped me feel more secure so I will do that again next time’; ‘I didn’t set off early enough to get there and felt flustered. Next time I will give myself an extra 15 minutes journey-time.’
A record of the meeting … make a quick note of who you met and what you talked about. This includes the casting assistants and assistant directors.
Positive distraction … if you don’t have another audition to begin working on do anything that will stop you thinking about the audition. Something fun, or that requires a bit of brain-power and is unrelated to acting: a completely different creative project, seeing a friend for lunch, playing sports, a shift at a job that you enjoy etc.
If you are still going over your audition in your mind or agonising over whether you’ve got the part go through the feedback process again and book some more distractions. If that is still not working, call your agent and ask them to get you an answer!