What does an audition panel want from its actors?
Well, there are a great many answers to that question but I would suggest one particular area of focus to start with.
Dave Bond, head of acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama recently told my students, as he told me 15 years ago in training, when you do an audition ‘change the room’. A beautiful bit of advice. Change the room.
What he means of course is that auditions can be mind numbing for the auditioner, what they want more often than not is for the next candidate to bring their own vitality and enthusiasm into the proceedings. To re energise them with a well prepared but open approach to the task at hand. To want to work, to want to offer. And none of it apologetically.
My favourite term for this is ‘own the space’. In order for us to do our best work, we need to know that we have every right to be there. If there is a major negative to the average actors psychology it is that very few of us feel worthy. There is an old actor phrase, that one day I’m going to get ‘found out’. We mean of course that deep down there is no real skill required to do this job, WE certainly don’t have any, we are just blagging it and our self indulgent impulse to swan around on stage is going to be spotted, we will be exposed for the amateur that we are and roundly mocked.
Not very healthy. And not very true.
On the contrary, it takes great skill to analyse a text, mine it for playable actions, make intelligent decisions about character wants, absorb the given circumstances, open yourself to connect with the other person in an act of joint imaginative play and retain the requisite amount of attention to keep the relationship alive, responsive and real throughout.
So, in order to own the space I suggest the following:
There is no way you are going to reach a place of creative play unless you have affirmed the given circumstances, objective and actions in the scene. And, obviously, familiarised yourself with the text so that at the very least you can bring your eyes off the page whenever possible.
2. BE INVITED
remember, they invited YOU! accept gracefully and don’t beg for something you already have…the right to be there.
Don’t think of what you do in the room as the final product. Remember that you are offering a well thought out suggestion of how you may begin to work on this piece together with the director. Leave it open!
don’t play half an action, take responsibility for your choice and show them the fully inhabited version not a weak apologetic ‘maybe’ of a reading.
on your feet, breathe and use the floor as your canvas. Don’t get planted and feel exposed. Walk the floor like your Michael Jackson in Billy Jean! As if your very footsteps light up the tiles.
either internally or externally.
Now, go and do what you were created to do!! And LOVE it.