How to avoid that role

3 Jun

A lot of working actors make the same mistake: they want to act.

As a result, they miss the subtle joys of self sabotage.

Here’s some advice to help you miss out on that role again, and so justify that satisfying feeling that the world really is against you:

Be the expert. Everyone loves a know it all. Directors, and especially writers, love to be corrected. Choose the seemingly most unimportant aspect of the play and air your knowledge of that particular field. Choose a minuscule detail of the text and declare it to be wildly inaccurate. Discuss the play’s literary failings. This will guarantee that the writer remembers you. If the writer is not present, don’t bother being a literary expert. Focus your considerable energies on telling the director how the play should be directed.

Be critical. Of anything. Of everything. Creative people just adore working with no sayers. Criticise directors you’ve worked with previously. Criticise other actors. Criticise the type of curtains in the audition room if you have to. Just make sure you leave the director with the sense that you’re a person of true discernment.

Don’t listen Directors are very busy people. If you don’t listen in the audition this sends a clear message that the director won’t have to waste time speaking to you in the rehearsal room.

Do your homework (and then some) If, say, the audition consists of a reading from the play make sure you’re familiar with it. Learn it. Mechanically. Once again the director will be relieved to know she won’t have to waste valuable time with you later.

Channel those nerves It’s natural to be nervous. It’s not natural to be friendly to people you’ve never met, so channel those nerves into an awkward coldness.

Talk, a lot After all, they are looking for a performer. Why waste time working the scene? They’ll be plenty of time for that during the run of the show.

Ask questions  Of course, you’ll have a lot of legitimate questions, ones you have the right to know the answers to. Ask them, but don’t lose the opportunity to turn the tables on the director. If the audition process has made you feel uncomfortable,  take the opportunity to make the director feel uncomfortable. Remember, this is your chance to reverse the power relations. Sure, the director might appear to respond with annoyance, but deep down she’ll really appreciate being treated as an equal.

Respect the text Show how much you value the text by putting it into your own words. The writer will thank you. Your spontaneous improvements will no doubt solve problems she slaved over for months.

And most crucially, Take it personally. A lot of nonsense is talked about how directors want to best serve the play. Don’t be fooled. Casting decisions are not about art. They’re all about you.

Remember, it’s ALL about you.

And, later, when you successfully don’t get the role, make sure you treat yourself. Go to the production and decide the performances were awful. There are few ways of getting more out of an artistic experience than finding fault with other artists.

Veronica Kaye

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