How you take direction in an audition or callback can be make or break when it comes to booking. However, under the pressure and time constraints of an audition (whether in person or via zoom) it can be difficult to keep your eye on the prize. Here are some important things to remember when you’re trying to land the part.
Remember sometimes the point is to see if you can take direction. As actors, of course we form opinions of and connections to the material. The pull to stay true to the text and your interpretation of the character is strong. But remember that in an audition, you are not just being tested on how well you understand and suit the role. You are also being evaluated as an employee and collaborator. Directors often give notes in auditions to see how well the actor takes them, even if the direction does not necessarily make sense for the final product. Being able to take direction quickly and completely is an essential skill to show off.
Listen and interpret. Auditions and callbacks can be fast paced, intense environments. With all the adrenaline and eagerness to please buzzing around, it can be hard to remain present and centered. But that is exactly what will be your best tool. Take the extra moment to really listen to the direction you’re being given. Think about it critically–is the goal to get you to commit to a bold choice? To see if you can contrast a previous choice? The extra beat taken to make sure you’re really listening and applying context could make all the difference and won’t cost you anything.
Make adjustments for the space. No matter what direction you are given, remember that they still have to see the results. Be aware of your environment. If you are on zoom, whatever direction you are given needs to be visible in the frame. If you’re being filmed in the room, make sure you’re orienting your choices to best capture them on camera. If you are auditioning in a small room but the project is outdoor theatre, make sure you show them you can project even if it feels weird.
Go in with an open mind. As much as auditioning is about making your own choices and committing to them, flexibility is so important. If you’re too married to one way of doing things, it can be harder to adjust and take direction in the moment. Going in with the expectation that anything could change at a moment’s notice will help you stay adaptable when you’re given direction in the room.
Being able to take direction is a crucial element of auditioning. Just like any other aspect of acting, it takes time and practice to develop the skill. Remember you will make mistakes. There will be those times you walk away from an audition and the way you “should have done it” will hit you like a freight train too late. Be forgiving with yourself. It’s all part of the process. Learn, grow, and listen better next time.
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