Acting Q&A: Angry and Impromptu Auditions

A reader of my acting tips page writes:

12/6/2010

Hi,

I am 16 and I have decided to go for an audition by an entertainment company. They require both a one minute monologue and an impromptu. As for the monologue, I have chosen a slightly dramatic one that involves a bit of anger and disappointment. Will that be okay? Since you mentioned on your blog that it is not advisable to yell at the cast directors?

Also, given that I have had no prior experience in acting or whatsoever, how do I prepare for an impromptu? I am not sure what to expect though I do know that my audition will be taking place in front of both a panel of judges and other contestants, about 30 or so.

Please write back when you have the chance.

Thank you.


Sorry for the late response!  Since I missed the boat, I hope your audition went well enough to encourage you to audition again.  And if that is the case, here are my answers to your questions:

Anger! A monologue with anger and disappointment is a great way to show off one’s acting chops.  You might want to make sure there’s at least a glimmer of some positive emotions in the piece to show off your acting range.  You don’t have to go from happy to sad like Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, but if you throw in just a hint of happiness in a sad or angry monologue then I think it will show off your acting skills a little more than a monologue that is one flavor.  When I was discouraging people to not to yell at casting directors, I was just trying to help the actor see the audition process from casting’s point of view.  Nobody likes being the recipient of an angry tirade, but if you play around with how anger is expressed I’m sure the casting folks will take notice.

Impromptu! I’m not sure what you mean by impromptu.  If you mean reading lines that they give you at the audition with no time to prepare, what the showbiz folks sometimes call a cold reading, then here’s my advice:  Have fun with it.  On cold readings you don’t have to worry about forgetting a line, so relax and make choices on the text as you go along.  Usually with cold readings you’ll get the text at least 15 minutes before you’re auditioning.  I’d advise not even trying to memorize the lines, as some folks would suggest.  You already proved you could memorize text in your monologue.  Why some folks might encourage you to memorize a script for a cold reading is to keep your head up and not buried in the page.  Be familiar with the piece, say it aloud a few times, get a sense of what happens.  Don’t worry about sounding weird by going over the cold reading aloud in the waiting room if no one else is before the audition.  You might feel like you’re being strange talking to yourself, but everyone else will feel strange if they speak the monologue for the first time at the audition.  Glance down at the page then look up to deliver your lines.  The casting people want to see actors.  Don’t take forever but take you’re time.  Just glance down as you’re going along.  Cold reading is a skill in itself so practice at home with any text you can find: ads in magazines, dialog from novels, articles, etc.  Some people hold the page a little bit in front of them to decrease the amount of time (by milliseconds!) it takes to glance at the page.  One of the cool things about cold readings is that they can really show a director an actor’s creativity, so keep that in mind.  If you are given something to read right on the spot with no time to prepare whatsoever, just relax, take a moment to read through the piece quietly, get an idea of where the character starts and ends, then have fun with it.

Now, if by Impromptu you mean an improvised piece, an instance where you’re not given any script but merely some type of suggestion to which they want to see a monologue you make up on the spot, then like above, relax and have fun.  Don’t be afraid to move around the stage.  A standard trap in improvising (and acting in general) is to stay in one place and just talk.  Pretend to react with some sort of environment, dance around.  You don’t have to be ridiculous (although everyone likes a laugh) you can just move around like a normal person.  However there are some gestures to stay away from, such as the classic “flailing hand.”  This trap is when actors repeatedly wave one hand around, usually pointing, to emphasize what they are saying.  A lot of (bad) politicians do this.  It looks cliche.  If you’re afraid of coming up blank, just remember nothing comes from nothing.  So don’t feel bad on basing an improvised monologue from something.  Do an impression of a teacher, give a voice to an animal, or have fun with saying what you want to your best friend but due to manners have never been given the chance.

Thanks again for your question.  A good book about auditions you might enjoy is Audition by Michael Shurtleff.  Break a leg!

If any readers want to check out more acting-type questions I’ve answered, check out my old Acting Q&A blog: http://actingquestions.blogspot.com/

One Comment

  • Erik L. says:

    I think that is some sound advise. I wish I was able to do more impromtu auditions (improvised piece style), I think it would be a ton of fun, but it would probably cost me a few jobs… Oh well, I hope we find out how this one went!

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