Holding out for...
A great audition
Are you approaching your first audition? It can be 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 package of a song and scenes from the show listed on Schoology.
Next is the Callback Audition which consists of a dance audition, rehearsed scenes from the script, and more 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 printed form to the audition - you will not be able to audition without it
ACTING: Please prepare the lines from the script listed under each package on Google Classroom. The more memorized you are the better! Be confident and make big choices!
SINGING: Please prepare the song under the package you selected for acting. You MUST sing to the accompaniment in the audition and not the Guide Vocals track.
Make sure BOTH your acting and singing are from the same package. For Example I would sing the cut from "I Can't Stand Still" and read Ren's lines for the Ren Package.
Email Miss K. for code
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 arrive in C-107 at 2:30pm on the date you signed up for. Everyone will wait in the hallway as the auditionee performs in the blackbox.
When you are finished with your audition you may leave.
Available Audition Dates
By appointment only.
Monday, November 14
Wednesday, November 16
Thursday, November 17
Sign-ups sheets for auditions are outside room C107 until all spots are filled
DANCE: November 18
ACTING AND SINGING: November 21
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 acting/singing call back will receive an email to their school account with materials to prepare, no later than Nov. 18 at 3pm.
Any student who is asked to the callback audition must attend in order to be considered for casting.
Bring your dance shoes please! If you don't have dance shoes, then wear comfortable tied shoes. No slip-ons.
The cast list will be posted on the Thoreau homepage and this site at dismissal on Nov. 22nd.
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. EVERY DAY IS AN AUDITION.
Follow any given instructions
Read the audition instructions clearly. Read the script if you can. Prepare what is asked. If the audition says “Prepare the following portion of this song and these specific lines." Then do exactly 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. Ask friends and family to help, don't be embarrassed. The more people you do it in front of the less nervous you'll feel. This will also help with timing, if someone else is reading the other character's lines in the scene.
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 a NO NO. 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 package you will be doing and the song you will be singing. 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 center 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 BlackBox, and you will:
Give your form to Miss K.
Step onto the "X" in the center of the room
Slate yourself and your song
Slate who you will be reading for (Ren, Ariel, etc.)
perform (either Mr. Mac or Miss K will be reading the opposite lines)
3. Follow this script:
"Hello, my name is _(your name) and I will be singing (title) for the package of (role you rehearsed)
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's Behind the Table?
Just in front of the room 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. For this, Miss K. IS the director, Music Director and Choreographer so it's just her and Mr. Mac, the choral director, to be another set of eyes and ears.
While they’re sitting at the table, they review your forms and take notes on what they see and hear.
DON'T LOOK AT THEM WHEN YOU PERFORM.
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 team:
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. This does NOT mean that Miss K. "likes you less," there are only so many roles available and a lot of the time it has nothing to do with you but the "look" of the performance. For example if an actor looks younger than another they probably won't be the "mother" because they look younger than the daughter!
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 Miss K. 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. EVERY DAY IS AN AUDITION.
What if I didn't get the part I wanted?
There are a bunch 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. (Just ask Miss K--she's been there!)
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. You may miss making incredible memories and new friends.
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. EVERY DAY IS AN AUDITION.
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....
I'm rooting for you,
Thoreau Theatre Artistic Director
If you don't get cast in the show, PLEASE know there are MANY OTHER ROLES than just being on stage. We will need students to help with backstage, set pieces, costumes, make-up, lights, mics and many others!
Please stay tuned here for when that Tech Application will be available.