Audition Decisions: When You Can’t Choose Material

With most self-taped auditions, the material is chosen for you. Even for in-person auditions, there are often sides to choose from. But for the open casting calls, showcases and season auditions, you’ll still have to choose your own material. While most of us have old standbys to draw from, there will always be those times when our favorite monologues and pieces aren’t appropriate for the show, were too recently used or are frankly feeling stale.
And so the nightmare begins.
Recently I was cutting material for an audition that had me stressed like I haven’t been since college. I was back to all my worst overthinking habits. I knew generally what sources I wanted to pull from, but everything I chose felt too something. Too well-known, too intense, too crude, too short, and on and on and on. Pretty soon I had lost all objectivity and was spiraling quickly into the “I’ll never work again” abyss. Which got me thinking. How do we choose material when there is no clear answer? Here are some things I found helpful.
Get your goals in order. What aspects are you trying to showcase in your audition? Instead of focusing on how badly you want to book, or how afraid you are of looking foolish, refocus on your actual job: to show them what you can do. The more you can narrow down exactly what you want to show off in your audition, the better.
Give up on being perfect. You can’t please everyone. There will never be a perfect audition piece. Trying to guess exactly what they’re looking for will drive you to madness, and you’ll never be able to view the material with clear eyes if you’re constantly trying to get inside everyone’s head but your own. Let go of trying to find the right piece and find something that feels like you.
Range is the name of the game. When in doubt, prioritize pieces that show off your range. If you don’t know what casting directors and other entertainment industry professionals are looking for, just show them what you can do and let them do the rest.
Trust your enthusiasm. More often than not, the piece that you’re drawn to that feels like fun is the way to go. That genuine connection will read in the audition and count for so much more than having the perfectly calculated piece.
Step away. Sometimes all you need is a break. By the next morning, I looked at the same pieces I’d been tearing to shreds with doubts and criticisms and just went with it. I put in a great audition, felt connected, showed off everything I needed to and got both pieces in two takes. At the end of the day, auditioning is just one part of your job. Treating it as something monumentally more than that will only work against you.
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