After our recent episode on how to get stage time in Austin we thought it would also be helpful to compile a list of advice, tips, and best practices when auditioning for improv shows or groups.
In this episode we were joined by two local improvisers and directors who are experienced on both sides of the audition process, Valerie Ward and Lance Gilstrap.
Together we broke down the pieces of advice listed below and went into further detail on each.
Listen to the episode at the bottom of this post to hear the full discussion or check out this article from Jason Chin or this article from Huge Theater where many of these helpful tips came from, and best of luck if you have an upcoming audition!
– The most frequent piece of advice I’ve found when researching this topic was to encourage people to support their fellow scene partners. Try not to look at the other people auditioning as your competitors. If you are cast then some of them will become members of your group. Directors are looking for people who work well with others, and often the best way to make yourself look good (and to take some of the pressure off yourself) is to focus instead on making others look good.
– Do your research and read any information the director has put out about the auditions and the show. This will be their first chance to see that you can follow instructions, and will likely help give you a better idea of what to expect from the audition and what the director is looking for.
– You’ll also need to see whether or not you can make the time commitment to the show. If you can’t make the rehearsals and/or the shows then you likely should not audition.
– Show up on time. 15 minutes before is advised so that you aren’t so early as to be an imposition, but not too late that you don’t have time to fill out any forms.
– Dress like you care. Business casual is a good general guideline, and helps make a good first impression. Also, please don’t wear a hat.
– Listen carefully to the director at the start of the audition. Very often they will tell you exactly what they are looking for.
– If you aren’t sure about something, especially one of the improv terms like “montage” or “sweep edit” then please feel free to ask for clarification.
– Have fun! You’re at your best when you’re having fun and playing.
– Remember that you are in a room of your peers who likely want to see you succeed.
– Speak up! Make sure you can be heard clearly.
– Be as supportive as possible. Try not to be judgemental or treat anyone else as though they’re a bad improviser. Again, if something weird does happen and you support it and help turn it into a positive that is going to make you look great.
– Listen and work line by line off of the last thing said. That’s my practical advice for how to work in any show, style, or setting.
– Unless you are specifically asked to do so please do not pre-plan bits, characters, or opening lines for the audition.
– Be aware of how many scenes you’ve been in. “If you’ve been in 6 scenes in 15 minutes then you should consider hanging back. If you haven’t been in any scenes in 15 minutes, what are you waiting for?”
– Mix it up if given the chance, and show your range so you don’t come off as one dimensional.
– I know it might be hard, but try not to worry too much. A lot of factors go into the final decision, and ultimately the director will likely only get to see you for a few minutes total. The director often wants something specific, and you should try not to take it too personally if you aren’t cast.
– Audition more! You’ll get better at it the more you do it.
– Some directors are willing to give feedback about why they decided not to cast you. If they offer, feel free to take them up on it but try to be polite and realize that the decision likely wasn’t an easy one for them.
– Again, if you weren’t cast try not to beat yourself up about it. Feel free to consider what you did, and what you perhaps could have done better, but once you’ve had the chance to learn from it try to let it go.
Best of luck at all your future auditions!
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