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How to Turn your Audition from Sabotage to Success

I’ve been in the audition room a lot lately. Sometimes it’s joyous, sometimes painful. Steve and I have been talking about this a lot- what is it that actors do to sabotage themselves in their auditions vs what happens when they let go of the need to please, to get it right, to give us what they think we want, and just live inside what we call “the world of the play”? What’s required is you doing the work you know and love, living boldly and effortlessly in the world of the play. If you’re doing your work at your absolute best- which means doing your most specific, personal, and authentic work in the service of the material- you’ll grab the attention of anyone in the room or watching your tape. Otherwise, you’re bound to have a challenging, even painful time, and- this may sound harsh- you have almost no chance of being cast.

You’ve possibly spent years deciding that the casting room is unsafe, and that the people casting you- or not casting you- are your adversaries, certainly not your advocates. That they are higher up on the industry food chain. That they know more than you do. But they aren’t and they don’t. They are desperately trying to make their shows and productions work. They are in need of your leadership (we talk about this a great deal). They want to know you. They want to figure out what you can add to the story. They are your collaborators. If you look at them as anything more or less, you give up your power and undermine your talent. You devalue what they (and you) actually care about. You have to be in this process of discovery along with them and to be of service to the stories they’re telling. You cannot do that if you make yourself small or give up your talent. If you do the real work, you know everything you need to know, and from there, you can show up with confidence, working with authority and dignity.

So, prepare from a place of knowing. Make decisions (aka choices) about who you are in the world of the play, who everyone else is to you, and what you’re talking about. Even if it’s medical, legal, or scientific jargon, it’s got to matter to you. Learn it from a place of investment, not merely memorization. Have a clear and strong point of view. And most of all, care. Caring is not about getting the role. Who knows what factors go into those decisions; they are certainly nothing you can control. Instead care deeply about what you need from the people in the scene (even if you choose to hate them). If you’re invested, we’re invested. If you are specific, we see and hear you. If you approach the work with love, we are affected.

Then show up, available to have a genuine conversation. So many producers ask why actors are doing so much “acting,” why they’re working so hard, why they need to present the work instead of live it. We all know the answers to that, and it’s time to make a change. The work is about commitment, clear decisions, investment, and focus. That’s you taking artistic leadership. And the work is about love. With love, the work becomes a human experience, and we’re all moved by it.

This approach is a practice. It’s a new and hopefully easier way of working, more satisfying in your preparation and your audition process. Start to engage in more truthful, caring, specific ways of working which will not only free you, it will bring your work to a new level of presence. From that place your audience will be affected, even if they’ve heard the scene 99 times before. This time, it’ll be you living the story, not presenting it. It will be you needing something human, a need that speaks to everyone. This is the kind of work you know to be true, so don’t give that up because you’ve been walking into those rooms for years with fear, shutting yourself off from your talent. Take possession of the scene, approach it from a place of love, and breathe your wonderful life into it. My god, it will be refreshing. It will be palpable- joyous- to have it come alive- for you and for us. And from there, we get to all care more. From there, casting happens.


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