Auditioning is a daunting necessity for every actor; the repeated process of psyching yourself up, delivering your best performance, and waiting with baited breath only to face rejection. For many of us, it’s a painful experience to endure: deflating, defeating and mentally exhausting – no matter how much you love your craft. However, there are ways to deal with the mental pressures of the auditioning process, before, during and after.
BEFORE YOUR AUDITION – PREPARE
It goes without saying: preparing as much as possible is the key to a good audition. If you’re dedicated, this can be more of a joy and less of an unpleasant challenge.
Do your research, learn your lines, and rehearse your piece (if, of course, you get one to rehearse). Preparation helps you feel substantially more confident, and that will pave the way for your best work. There’s nothing worse than leaving an audition room feeling you didn’t show the casting director the best of your ability.
Preparation helps you focus on giving your best performance without being preoccupied with other worries: “Would the character respond like this?” Prepare: Don’t make that decision in the audition session. Know ahead of time.
When you arrive focused, don’t compare yourself negatively to the competition waiting with you. While it may be instinctual to do so, learn to avoid it; don’t engage in chatter. Remain focused.
DURING AUDITION – FOCUS
Any psychology textbook will tell you nervousness can have a detrimental effect on your abilities. Overcoming nerves probably won’t happen overnight, but you will get better over time as you gain experience.
First, when you set foot inside the audition room, look everyone in the eye and appear confident (the subtle variety, not the sort that can be mistaken for arrogance).
The usual chat part of the audition is a bit like a normal job interview. The time between walking in and your performance is when the casting team gauges what kind of person you might be to work with. If you’re rattled with nerves, it will likely show. Instead, hide them (something you’ll find in most actors’ skill set).
Also imperative is shifting your focus to the right things. When the time comes to perform your piece, whether monologue, or the prepared script reading, don’t focus on getting the job, your career, or anything else to do with you. Instead, focus on inhabiting your character. When you perform, paint out the casting director and the environment from your mind as you would an audience or camera, and ultimately treat the audition as you would a professional job.
POST AUDITION: MOVE ON
If you get the job, congratulations. If you don’t get called back, move on. Never pin all your hopes and dreams on a single job. It’s easier said than done, but the best thing you can do in the face of rejection is to evaluate what you did well, what you learned and how you can improve next time.
Don’t ponder for days or weeks on end as to why you didn’t get the part, or what you might’ve done “wrong”. This unproductive and irrational past time will only serve to deflate you, halt your development, and make you approach each audition with a sense of dread as opposed to enthusiasm.
What’s more, it’s also important to remember that rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t good enough. It is more that you weren’t what they were looking for, and there are many variables beyond just acting talent that can dictate such things.
See every audition, successful or not, as an opportunity to exercise skill and develop craft. That in itself is a positive thing. Keep moving, learning, looking forward and remembering that even some of the finest actors have suffered numerous rejections before landing regular work.
It’s the nature of the beast, and one of just a few cons that you will eventually see past.