How to audition and get the part, Part 2
Step 3: Locating and Identifying Auditions
Having properly prepared for the auditioning process, the next step is to find auditions to attend.
Dealing with auditions in bulk volume is helpful. It takes performance pressures off and increases the chances of landing work. Think of it in terms of baseball’s batting average system. A baseball player’s batting average is a ratio of hits per times at bat. Under this system .300 is considered good, and .400 is considered nearly impossible. In other words, the best of the best baseballs players only hit the ball 40% of the time.
Think of the career you would have if you landed a part in 40% of your auditions.
Naturally, the only way to get a success rate approaching this is to attend as many auditions as possible. You can find auditioning notices in the following ways:
Probably the easiest and fastest way to find a lot of postings quickly, a simple google search can yield impressive results. Casting agencies also have regular open calls which they list on the web. Auditions are also posted to social media groups. Craigslist often has postings, but be wary. Occasionally some very good gigs pop up, but you’ll have to wade through a sea of unpaid, amateurish, or shady postings. Wherever you look, be careful and know what you’re getting into.
Good web resources for audition postings:
An example of casting agencies and advice for working with agents:
The following link shows a list of talent agencies by state. Like everyone else in show business, agents have a reputation. It is highly recommended that you establish an agent’s credibility before doing business.
While acquiring an agent is a subject worthy of its own discussion, keep the following in mind:
Firstly, while it is the agent’s job to find you work, that agent represents more people than you will probably know in your entire lifetime. They can and will forget about you because your name is one among thousands. So stay in touch. Say hello. Regularly ask if they work available.
Secondly, if you have an agent, chances are you have been advised to list only their contact information on your headshot and resume. This means that casting people will contact them with any interest. Therefore, you will need to tell your agent about all of your auditions. Otherwise, you risk blindsiding the very person you hired to help you find work. If that happens, you damage your relationship with the agent, your potential earnings, possibly even your casting. So talk to your agent about your auditions.
Colleges and theater schools very often post audition information for productions in and around the local area. Most theater departments have a physical wall or bulletin board papered with audition and casting opportunities. All you have to do is find a way into the building. Such places are also excellent ways to get free professional advice, network, and other resources.
Showbiz Friends, or Regular Friends
They say it’s all who you know, right? This time, ‘they’ are actually right. If you know someone directly in show business, you can always pick their brain. If not, it is still advisable to play six degrees of separation. A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend may be just the person who can help you.
Theaters and Theatre Companies
Smaller independents will announce auditions for upcoming productions, but often this information is not widely advertised. It pays to inquire directly, either online or in person.
The pay with such companies is often little to none. However, the advantages with smaller theaters and companies is that your odds are better, they’re good experience, and you can more easily build good working relationships.
Larger or more established theaters are listed in specialized regional directories. Often this is a simple google search away. Examples of which can be found here:
http://www.theatrebayarea.org/networking/ (Requires membership)
Southeast United States
Outdoor Theater Companies Around the World
Strawhat (Auditions held in NYC)
A catch all term for industry papers and magazines, publications provide “insider information”, current events in the business, and lots of ads for services and upcoming productions. Publications are often region specific. You can subscribe to them for a fee and get printed additions sent to your home. Or you can look them up online at the following links. This list is only a sample.
Back Stage West
The various acting unions have information on auditions. Naturally, you may not be eligible for it unless you are a member. But these unions love to recruit, so they will talk to non-members. Of the unions, Actor’s Equity maintains the easiest to use online database regarding auditions. But this should not stop you from visiting offices personally. The three main unions are Actor’s Equity, The Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG), and The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Audition information at Actor’s Equity can be found here:
SAG and AFTRA can be found here:
Theme parks, cruise ships, and resorts are usually on the hunt for performers. Treatment, pay, and dignity are all at risk when accepting work from such sources. But that depends on the employer, and they can still be valuable and good experiences, sometimes earning the actor points toward union membership. Many a SAG actor goes through the rite of passage of wearing the dreaded Disney Character suit.
Wald Disney World
Once you have compiled a list of auditions, understanding what kind of audition you’re attending can mentally prepare you for what is to come. With all the hostility and nervous energy surrounding auditions, the ability to keep your cool is vital.
The industry classifies auditions in some very specific ways. However, most auditions can be safely placed in one of three categories:
- Cattle Calls
Cattle Calls are the nickname for open auditions. They are open to the general public, and the public usually shows up in massive numbers. Both actors and industry professionals generally don’t like them very much. The sheer number of people attending makes your odds of landing a part, or a job, or something quite small. Often there isn’t any specific part offered, so you are simply displaying what you look like, what you can do, and hoping that someone likes you. Cattle Calls are very similar to standing in line for a ride at Disney. You wait for hours to have an experience that only lasts a few minutes. The main difference is that it won’t be much fun. Considering that many Cattle Calls are held explicitly to conform to union rules or as publicity stunts, you probably won’t get a part either. If you’re auditioning for work as an extra, that process will also look and feel like a cattle call.
Several books on auditions flatly advise against attending Cattle Calls, but they are worth experiencing once or twice. You will meet a lot of actors, and it is not unusual for other opportunities to present themselves while you wait to be seen. Depending on how they are organized, you may be able to take a number, leave the premises, and come back when when you expect the wait to be smaller.
Readings are auditions in which you read sides from a script. Usually you will not have seen these sides until the day you get them, which means you give a cold reading. (Cold reading is discussed later.) Theater, Film, and TV auditions usually include reading at some point in the process.
Interviews are exactly that. It is highly unlikely that you will be asked to give a monologue or a cold reading during an interview. Instead, the casting professionals are literally just getting to know you. You’ll show up, usually to an office, make yourself comfortable, and shoot the breeze with your prospective boss. At the end, you’ll both know if you would like to spend the next several weeks or months working together.
Part 3 will discuss the actual audition itself.