Are you approaching your first audition? It can be kinda nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect.
This Audition Guide will prepare you for the task of auditioning for a show, program, or class.
What is an Audition?
An audition is a showcase of your skill, planning, behavior, self-confidence, and communication.
Every theatrical experience starts with the audition. That is how artists earn roles. There are so many things to consider when casting a show. Directors look at how artists work together and what they offer individually.
What To Expect
There are generally two parts to the Thoreau audition process.
First is a General Audition where an artist performs individually, a one minute monologue and a song of their choice
Next is the Callback Audition which consists of a dance audition, rehearsed scenes from the script, and (possibly) singing from the score - not all artists will be asked to come to this part of the audition.
Auditions happen everywhere at every level, from middle school plays, to high school musicals, to college admissions. Audition styles range from prepared monologues to cold readings, to group activities.
We hope this guide helps inform and prepare you for your audition!
PAPERWORK: Please bring your completed form to the audition - you will not be able to audition without it
ACTING: Please memorize and block a one minute monologue - you may use a monologue from the resource list below or find your own!
SINGING: Please prepare the equivalent of a 32-bar cut solo from the musical Singin' In The Rain. This should be a 45 seconds to one minute of singing. Please refrain from dancing. You should have some basic blocking, but please do not take away from your song by focusing on movement.
You should plan to provide your own instrumental or karaoke accompaniment track to be played through an aux cord (headphone jack). You may NOT sing along with existing lyrics.
PLEASE NOTE: all casting decisions are final. Parts will be assigned to the best overall prepared and performed auditions. Casting comments and notes will remain confidential and will not be posted. Casting placements will not be debated or discussed once the final cast decision is made. Negative comments will not be tolerated. Please understand that not everyone who auditions will be cast.
Thank you for your understanding.
Please plan to arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment time and be prepared to stay 5-10 minutes past your scheduled appointment time.
Available Audition Dates
By appointment only.
Sign-ups sheets for auditions are outside room C107 until all spots are filled
Not everyone will be asked to come to callbacks. Most people will be cast based on how they perform at the General Auditions.
Students receiving a call back will receive an email to their school account no later than Sept 26 at 6pm.
Any student who is asked to the callback audition must attend in order to be considered for casting.
Bring your tap or dance shoes please!
The cast list will be posted on the homepage no later than 8 PM on September 28
Choosing a Monologue
What should I look for?
Choosing the right audition piece is the by far the most important step. It’s also very frustrating. There are so many pieces to choose from! Just because you like a song or monologue or it is in an audition book doesn’t mean it’s a good choice or suitable audition material.
In a Song:
Know Your Range
Nothing will hurt you more than if you’re struggling with notes that are too high or too low for your range. Comfort is essential. Understanding basic music theory can help you, too — that way, if there is a song you like that’s just out of range, you can adjust it to a better key for your voice. You can always practice and improve your range, also, but expect that there is a place that will always make your voice magical. Find that spot, and pick music that helps you blow the audience away!
Know Your Audience
Do a little research before an audition and before choosing your audition song. While you don’t want to lose your uniqueness by choosing a song you think the Director wants to hear, you shouldn’t go so far off the grid that they don’t want to listen. Find a happy medium, and choose a song that fits you and the audition.
Choose the Right Song for Your Audition
If you’re not connected to your song, chances are the director is going to know it. Ditto if the song is too complex for your experience level. If the song doesn’t fit your tone, range, and quirks, consider selecting a different one.
Music is a personal thing. Choosing a song to audition with means you should be able to convey the emotion it stirs in you, and add enough of your style to make it your own. It should fit who you are, and whom you want to be musically.
If you’re not a bounce-around-the-stage type of singer, then choose something slower. If you’re upbeat and joyous, then go with a song that’s a little more fun.
Lastly, try to avoid the songs that you know everyone is going to sing. Sometimes directors get sick of the “it” songs. Be the person who stands out and is a breath of fresh air!
Choose pieces with a journey
By a “journey” we mean that the character is in one emotional state at the beginning of the piece, and through the piece, they transform to another emotional state. Something happens to the character. Don’t confuse emotional journey with intensity.
Don’t pick pieces that are all yelling, or all crying, or all anything. They are boring because they don’t change. If you want to show that you can cry, for example, then start happy and transform to sad throughout the monologue. Or start sad and transform into a state of understanding. Whatever the transformation, make sure it’s character driven. Don’t apply an emotional journey “just because” even though it doesn’t fit the piece.
Finally, if you want to raise your voice in a monologue, you get one shot. You can yell one sentence. Any more than that is self-indulgent. Yelling feels great for an actor, it’s very cathartic. But nobody wants to hear it for a whole monologue.
If you’re asked to prepare a one minute monologue, don’t bring in a five-minute monologue. More is not better. It’s better to wow the director in one minute than to try and sustain a director’s attention for five minutes. Remember the old showbiz adage: Leave ‘em wanting more.
Answer these questions
1. How does the material fit the play?
If you’re auditioning for a specific role or a play with a specific style, your audition piece should reflect that style. You want the director to see you in the play.
2. How does the material showcase my abilities?
Choose a piece that lets you shine. You want to put your best foot forward in an audition and the first step is the piece you choose.
3. Why is the piece interesting?
Never choose a piece you find boring. If you find it boring, so will those listening. Never choose a piece because you think you should. Choose it because it fits the play and it showcases your abilities.
Preparing Monologue and Song
After you choose your monologue and song, the next step is to prepare.
Preparing does not mean just learning the lines and throwing in a few moves - that is a one-dimensional character and the director can tell. You want to show three-dimensional characters by bringing them to life both physically and vocally.
Preparing a monologue centers squarely on the character. You should know:
● Who: Who is the character in your monologue? Whom is your character speaking to?
● What: What does your character want?
● When: When does your monologue take place?
● Where: Where is your character? Where is your listener?
● Why: Why is your character speaking? Why now?
The more you know about your character (whether these details are found in the script proper or are created by you) the more you can bring the character to life. These solidify how your character stands, gestures and moves, and how the character speaks.
These will take your work to another level:
Even a well-prepared actor can fall apart on the day of the audition. Why? Auditions are unnatural.
In order to succeed, you have to perform well. Not everyone performs well under pressure.
Nerves can get the best of everyone.
What can you do on the day?
● Be in the Know.
• The dates of the show and when the play rehearses.
• Your schedule and conflicts.
• The plot of the production and what character(s) you think you'd fit in
• The requirements of the audition - what were you supposed to prepare?
● Don’t compare yourself to others. There’s only one audition you can control and that’s yours. Don’t let the work of others affect yours. Block out everyone else by putting on headphones. Or sit outside until it’s your turn.
● Learn to control your nerves. Have a large resource of breathing exercises to focus on while you’re waiting to go on.
● Learn a couple of meditation mantras. Don’t knock it till you try it. If you want something to focus on, a mantra will do the trick. They’re a great way to keep you focused, calm and under control.
What is etiquette? The code of behavior in a situation. What are the most important rules of audition behavior?
Never pull the I didn’t know card.
Your audition starts before you walk in the room
Your behavior and attitude outside the audition can indicate that you might be hard to work with. Auditions are not an isolated experience. Your involvement with the Thoreau Theatre Program is important. Behavior in classes, your interactions with others, a positive track record within the program, school, and your attitude are all considered when casting. The theater experience is completely integrated. Directors want to work with students who commit to taking their work in the production seriously, take responsibility for their behavior and actions, take direction well, who do not cause drama and create a positive environment.
Follow any given instructions
Read the audition instructions clearly. Read the script if you can. Prepare what is asked. If the audition says “Prepare two monologues for a total of two minutes,” then do just that. If the director asks you to do something different with the monologue, then do just that.
KNOW your lines, KNOW your lyrics, KNOW the notes. Practice, practice and practice some more. Practicing will help your nerves. Video yourself performing your piece to look for bad habits that you aren’t aware of, like shuffling your feet, leaning/slouching, or smoothing your hair or clothes.
Value your time in the room
Focus on your audition, don’t waste the Director's time with excuses about why your audition might be below average. Don’t make excuses. Excuses do not get you a part. Being prepared gets you a part. If the director asks you to do something different, this is your opportunity to show that you can take direction.
Dress the part but don’t dress up
Never show up in costume. Look professional- You don’t need heels or suit jackets, but you need to look like you care about the audition. Choose clean, simple and easy to move in pieces. Your hair should always be pulled up in a ponytail or bun. Don’t play with it during your audition. Wear proper shoes. Nothing too high or clunky. Flip flops are out. You want the director to see you in ANY role.
Students who don’t audition, will not get cast.
Bookend your piece
Slate your piece with your name, the play that your monologue is from, and who it’s by. Always end your audition with a thank you.
Directors WANT you to be amazing
Before you enter the audition space, take a deep breath and visualize yourself performing your piece(s) at the absolute best of your ability. Smile when you enter the room. Stand at the centre of the stage, introduce yourself and your piece in a clear voice. Take a brief pause… and start! After you finish, say thank you, and wait for any further instructions
On the Day of Auditions
1. On the day of auditions, you will check in with the Stage Manager outside Gym 1. You must be checked in 10 minutes before your designated time to audition. Check-in includes:
signing into the after school attendance
having your picture taken
turning in your completed audition form for review.
Wait in the hallway until your turn
2. When it’s your turn, you will be asked into the cafeteria, will:
give your form to the Director
plug in your phone to the aux cord for accompaniment/karaoke
step onto the stage
introduce yourself and your song
introduce your monologue
3. Follow this script:
"Hello, my name is _(your name) _.
Today I am auditioning for _(name of production)_.
First, I will be singing the song _(title)_ from the musical _(name of show/movie)_."
You will then sing about 1 minute of the song. (The director may cut you off if you go over 60 seconds)
Then you say:
"Thank you. I will now perform _(title of monologue)_ by _(author's name)_ from the play _(title of the play)_."
Put your head down, take a breath....and begin.
4. When you are done - put your head down, take a breath, look back up and say thank you. This signals to the director that you are finished with your performance. If you blank, don’t break character. Stay in the moment. Repeat a line if you have to. Show the director how you handle pressure.
Who are the "Judges?"
Just in front of the stage is a panel of “judges”. They are the Artistic Team for the show. Usually, the Director, Music Director and Choreographer are at the table. They all love theater, love working with students, and love the show they’re doing. They are performers too and have stood in your exact spot and had to deal with nerves too.
While they’re sitting at the table, they review your forms and take notes on what they see and hear.
Some things they’re evaluating:
Professionalism - It requires a certain level of maturity to be in a production. Acting is fun, but it is also a job. The Director looks for students who are easy to work with and will bring a positive attitude to rehearsals. You must be a hard worker and committed.
Naturalness - Acting may be pretend and make-believe, but that does not mean you should seem fake. Have an authentic personality and an emotional connection to your audition materials.
Personality - Acting natural does not mean to tone down your personality. In fact, it’s what directors are most eager to see! Are you funny, thoughtful, interesting, quirky?
Stage Presence – how you present yourself physically, how nervous do you appear (you may BE nervous, but you can learn to hide it and use it to your benefit – our Theatre classes help with that)
Articulation & Projection – how clearly you speak and how strong a performance you give
Pitch & Range – how well you sing in tune and demonstrates your voice.
They also have a place to write general comments about the performance and start making some decision about whom they would like to see at the Callback Audition. MOST IMPORTANTLY they are your CHEERLEADERS!! They smile at you, help you get back on if you forget the words and generally support your whole process.
Things that really “WOW” the judges…
Being prepared - knowing what the requirements are and what is expected of you
Using a loud, clear voice and continuing with good projection all the way through.
Dressing nice – not in costume, but like you would for a school presentation. A clean and professional look goes a long way in making a good impression.
Performance energy – we’re looking for performers for the stage. Songs shouldn’t be choreographed, but we DO love to see body energy, facial expressions, and gestures that help tell the story.
A big smile
Dealing with the Aftermath
What if I didn't get cast at all?
Now, if you didn’t get cast at all, first and foremost, we are sorry. That really sucks. We know you really wanted to be in this show.
Our advice to you is first, you are allowed to be sad. But only for a short amount of time. You are NOT allowed to be bitter; to bad-mouth the people who did get cast or the artistic team; to call the director and beg for a do-over or to wallow in negativity.
You can’t control whether you get cast or not. You can only do your best. You can’t control whether your friend gets cast or not. But you can control your reaction to the casting.
Remember that Director will be watching your reactions. If a student doesn’t get the part they wanted, yet they shake it off and take on the role they earned, the director will remember that in the future. If a student complains, drops out of the performance or badmouths the director and the program, the director will also remember that in the future.
What if I didn't get the part I wanted?
There is a myriad of reasons why you weren’t cast in the role you wanted. You might have been too tall/short/old/young/cute/ whatever. Someone may have just been a better choice. But remember, first and foremost: YOU WERE CAST. You were one of the lucky ones. You’re IN the show!
It can be hard at first to deal with not being cast in your dream role. You can deal with it in one of three ways:
You refuse the part you’ve been cast in and quit the show.
PRO: You won’t have to see that other person playing “your” part.
CONS: You don’t get to be in the show. You look like a big old quitter. You might miss the opportunity to be cast in another show since you won’t be working with that particular director.
2. You accept the role you’ve been cast in but are bitter about it.
PRO: You still get to be in your dream show.
CONS: You have to see that person playing “your” part. You make everyone else’s life miserable by talking about how you would have been a much better choice for the role. You sing along with that person’s songs and weird the rest of the cast out. You earn a bad reputation by being “that guy with the bad attitude” and then nobody wants to work with you again.
3. You accept the role you’ve been cast in and make the best of it.
PRO: You still get to be in your dream show. You discover why that person was cast in that role, and make mental notes about how you can improve your performance skills. You take this as a learning opportunity and remember why you love to do theatre. You make new friends and contacts through the rehearsal process. You now know what to work on when the revival of the show occurs.
The choice seems pretty clear.
What action will you take?
Move away from the “drama” of the moment and into action. I’m going to do my best even though I’m nervous. I’m going to prove I deserved a bigger part. I’m going to work on my skills so that I can do better next time.
Part of being an actor is dealing with rejection. If you want to succeed as an actor, you will get rejected over and over again. You will have to grow dragon-thick skin. But the true measure of a successful actor is someone who doesn’t give up and keeps trying. Keep auditioning. Perhaps take some acting, vocal or dance classes to improve. Keep learning new monologues. And most importantly… if you want to be an actor badly enough… DON’T GIVE UP!
Some Final Thoughts
Casting is a tricky thing. When shows are cast, the directors and producers have a zillion things they have to take into consideration. When we cast at Thoreau Middle School, we are looking for positive energy, a willingness to try, direct-ability, actors who are growing in their work from semester to semester, focus and a collaborative spirit. We look at group dynamics. We look at age and gender groupings. And, we cast to serve the show.
That is a strange concept – shouldn’t the director fill the stage with the most talented actors? Isn’t talent the first thing a director looks for?
Talent is great and there’s nothing more engaging than a talented actor on stage. But that’s just one piece of an efficient and effective community, or an efficient and effective rehearsal process. We also consider students who work well together, people who work hard, people who understand they are moving toward a final goal, people who offer ideas. The job of the director is to find actors who are going to build a play. What if the talented actor doesn’t work well with others? How will that affect rehearsals and the final product?
As a theatre company, we are bound to serve the performance pieces so that they succeed as good theatre, as well as providing each actor with a successful experience within the show. As a theatre company dedicated to students, we are also restricted by the realities of each student’s school, family and other activity commitments – your schedule plays a big part in how the show is ultimately cast. You may not like it, we may not like it, but it is the reality of doing theatre with students.
The audition process can be a scary, nerve-wracking, arduous experience, but it is essential as it is only through auditions that we can meet new actors and see how returning actors have grown within the work. Knowing this, it is our hope that our young actors take the audition process seriously enough to come well prepared. We know auditioning isn’t easy. For every role, there are at least, AT LEAST, three wonderful choices, and in most cases, many more—all of which would be great versions of these shows.
Casting is a long process, filled with many possible endings. What happens when there is more than just one “right one” for a role? What do you do when one actor may be “just right” for more than one role? What do you do when that is the case for many roles? We want everyone to be happy. Of course, On Casting… this is not always the case. We realize that. We are actors, too. We have all been cast in smaller roles than we would have liked. We have all felt crushed when casting announcements were made.
But we have also gone through the process of learning that there is much joy to be found, even in the smallest of roles. Though a character may only have two lines, the playwright wrote those two lines for that character for a reason—not just because—but because those two lines were important for that character to say in order to further the idea of the play. It really isn’t how big your part is—it’s what you do with the part you have in order to best serve the play, and in order to continue growing as an artist.
Here’s the thing - you might be absolutely right for a certain part, you may want it more than you’ve ever wanted anything, you may even be sure you are going to get it – your friends may tell you that you are definitely going to get it – and then the part might just go to someone else.
And that’s how it goes in casting. As an actor, you must be able to handle those disappointments graciously and to learn to put your disappointment aside when it comes time to begin rehearsals.
At Thoreau, we have an additional factor which we consider when casting, and that is each student’s journey with us throughout the semesters. We do not cast each season as if it is our first, or an isolated experience – we cast knowing that each student will sometimes get the role of their dreams, and sometimes not…..each student will sometimes play leading roles and each student will sometimes be cast in the ensemble….each student will, over their years with us, get casting announcements that make them jump in the air and scream with excitement, as well as casting announcements that make them feel disappointed, even devastated. It is our hope that, in each child’s journey, those experiences balance one another, for all of those are part of the life of an actor, and the reality of auditioning.
So, to all of the actors - thank you for having the courage to audition. Thank you for wanting to be a part of the theatre and the Thoreau Theatre family. Thank you for all being so right for so many roles in these shows. And thank you for making such an amazing puzzle of a Thoreau season. The overall picture is beautiful, intriguing, interesting, colorful, new, inspiring. We are all excited to bring the picture to life! Now we challenge you to breathe and talk and walk and sing and dance for these characters in ways that have never been tried. We offer you these parts...now we wonder what you will do with them....
-The Thoreau Theatre Artistic Director