“I hate the audition process. Having experienced it as an actor, I found it demeaning. As a writer and director, I find it damn near useless.”
– David Mamet
“In the audition room, the actor is a supplicant… He is allowed, encouraged, and, if gifted, driven to cast himself in various enjoyable, demanding roles and situations. These situations may not be noble, but the work, and the joy of exploring them, is.”
– David Mamet
Very rarely do I encounter an actor who loves to audition. It is the most frustrating and nerve wracking part of the job of acting. For the actor, nothing will cause more sleepless nights, amplify the voice of self doubt, and encourage self sabotage like auditioning. In his book, “Bambi vs Godzilla: On The Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business,” David Mamet includes a wonderful essay, “Good In The Room: Auditions And The Fallacy Of Testing,” which breaks down the psychological process of auditioning from both the acting and casting sides of the room.
As actors we love and need and want to act. When we audition, generally we are not driven by that love, need, or want. We are instead driven by a desire for a job. We are not acting, but interviewing for a job. The casting directors, producers and the director are not there as audience members to see a performance, rather they are judges on a jury. They are not there to see if you can act, they are determining if they can see you “act the part.”
The Audition is the job. One more time for good measure… The audition is the job. Long ago I discovered that the key to auditioning successfully is to approach auditions differently. I use the audition to act. I see it as an opportunity to do what I love. How ever many people are in the room, they are my audience. I will often get frustrated when I don’t get hired after I know I have given an amazing audition. In fact, I would call my agent and say, “How could they not hire me?” He would respond with, “Your problem is you think you actually have some control over that.” That is the truth and it is valuable information. I do not concern myself with getting the job (usually – we’re all human). That is out of our control. Proper preparation and having fun are the keys to the castle. I usually leave an audition thinking, “Well, they get that one for free. If they want another it’s going to cost them.” It’s more important that I like it more than they do because eventually they will decide I am the right choice, and then they’ll pay for it, and then they’ll film it.
One last thought for the actor. Remember, if your agent got an audition for you, that means two people think you are right for the part; your agent and the casting director. It’s real easy to sit in the actors waiting area and look at the other people reading for the same role and start doubting yourself. Stay focused. You are not in casting so don’t start casting someone else in your role. Play the part. You are an actor. Whether you get the role or not you are perfect for the role. I can’t think of a role that I couldn’t imagine myself playing. Some roles take more work and are more challenging, but that is the fun of it. That is what we do. At the audition, that is all you should do.