How Improv is Your Secret Weapon for Auditions

How Improv is Your Secret Weapon for Auditions

By Will Doughty

Did you know that there are at least 4 different uses of Improv to take your auditions to the next level?

And here is something more- most of them have nothing to do with what is written in your sides.

Improv is one of the best forms of training for any actor.

It is becoming a must-have skill in the Industry. Agents, CDs, and Directors want to see Improv on your resume. One of the reasons most actors do NOT take an Improv class is because they don’t think they are funny or they’re just not that interested in comedy.

Let’s destroy the myth that Improv is only for comedy. It can be your biggest ally when dealing with a dramatic situation.

So, how can using Improv help your next audition?

The tools and skills learned in Improv can be directly applied to scripted auditions in both drama and comedy, and all genres for that matter.

Listening. Imagination. A strong moment before. Specific real events. A high-stakes relationship. An immediate action and full presence in the room.

All of these are skills and habits every actor wants when auditioning. All of these are taught without a script. Above and beyond that, Improv gives you permission to think and play outside of the sides, and create a full life with which to walk into any room and live truthfully in any imagined circumstance.

Here are 4 unique Uses of Improv to prepare for your next audition:

1. Keep going after the scene is done:

Speak freely as the character. Try “playing” as if the scene has not ended with your fellow actor. [BTW if you don’t have a go-to actor with whom to your run auditions, all I can say is, get one. Immediately.] Play the scene out further without a script. Speak as the character would in that situation. WHY? It helps you find a meaningful connection to the story and action of the character. Beyond the words on the page, you discover “why” you say what you are saying, and you are immediately dealing with the circumstances in the scene. No time to out-think the scene. You are forced to find the words, and in that same moment, discover what matters to you in the scene and the relationship.

2. Play out the scenes within the scene:

Every audition scene makes a reference to another scene that has taken place in the past- even if it is one line of dialogue that is not written in the full script (exposition). Find those “scenes” in your sides (or in related sides for the project) and play them out in an improvisation. This takes your imagination work to another level. By playing out a “pretend” scene, you are actively living that moment as a part of your preparation. Once you play that scene out, go right back to the scripted scene and run the scene again. Do you have a deeper connection to the lines and the world of the play? Find as many “scenes within the scene” as you can. Actively play them out. This builds a richer and fuller performance to the scripted scene. This is part of your audition prep! It is also a really fun way to work the scene with your go-to actor.

3. Improv your way into the scene:

Most people refer to this as creating a “moment before.” But instead of it just being the few seconds before the scene starts, it expands the moment before to a full scene that has taken place before this scene. Again, it is not a scene that is written in the script. It is an imaginary scene that helps you dive right into the beginning of your scene- full and present to the relationship.

Most of the time when I’m working with actors, I have them create a “history scene” with the other actor in the scene to develop a stronger relationship. This scene helps create stakes in the scripted scene, and allows both actors to speak freely as their own character in order to discover how they feel and think about the other character. It is extremely helpful in creating a strong “want” from the other character(s) in the scene.

This is really powerful for your Self-tapes (because you can edit it out). Start with an improvised extended “moment before” and immediately go into the scripted audition. This gives you a full-speed launch into the scene and you don’t have to work so hard at getting into the world of play. It works wonders.

4. The Waiting Room:

The fourth way to use Improv is all by yourself in the waiting room. If you find that running your lines and going over your choices stresses you out, this is the perfect alternative. The most stressful place is sitting in a room with a bunch of other actors going in for the same role. Getting out of your head and into the world of play is vital. This is YOUR audition. Your time to work. It is your time to let go and trust that you know the lines and the world in which you are playing.

Follow that freedom of letting go by quietly closing your eyes, and continue the playful imagination work you have done in the above three strategies. Play in the world that you created. Set up your moment before the scene, or connect to a “scene within the scene” that really got you excited about the character and story. Replay how you think and feel about the other characters, what you want from them, etc.

Another step- while you wait- is to imagine a completely brand new scene that you have not thought of before, right there in the waiting room. However you decide to use this time to prepare to walk into the room, PLAY! Be confident in your prep and get playing in your world. If you are busy creating more scenes or reviewing other improvised scenes, you will be too busy to get caught up in your head and worry about the audition. It will turn your audition into an alive, working experience that you’ll be excited about. And that will translate in the room big time.

One of the hardest parts about our craft is making time to work outside of auditions and then to use that time to its fullest- learning new habits, tools, and skills to give you the edge above the rest and bring you closer to being the best actor you can be. Improv for the Audition is an 8-week class that gives you a wealth of new tools and skills to bring into your audition practice.

These secret weapons will unlock your more authentic work and give you permission to keep bringing your powerful voice and creativity to every audition and all the work you do.

Click HERE for more info on IMPROV FOR THE AUDITION!

 Click HERE for more info on other BGB classes!

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