Auditioning Techniques, by Christopher Blair

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Does auditioning make you nervous?  Me, too.  I always imagine my auditions feeling like this…

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     But they usually make me feel like this…
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     I’ve always found it fascinating that actors willingly walk into a room full of strangers to bare their souls offering it up to be critiqued and assessed, when most people would run from situations like these.   But it’s what you’ve got to do if you want to get the part.  So we muster up our courage, get up there and show ‘em what we’ve got!
     I’ve been doing theatre for approximately 4,000 years and I’ve learned a few things along the way.  So, if you’re someone like me who would rather clean Shrek’s outhouse than audition, here’s a few tips I have to share.
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Relax
     Easier said than done.  Everyone accomplishes this difficult task differently.  Personally, I like deep breathing.  Others might like exercise, or imagining everyone in the room wearing chicken costumes.  Just do what works for you.  Most theatre classes, including those at SCT, teach relaxation techniques to help you prepare for the stress of live performances.  But no matter how worked up we get, the truth is that the world will not end if you blow your high note or you miss a dance step, so do yourself a favor and relax.  Being relaxed encourages self-confidence.  Self-confidence inspires others to be confident in you.
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Make Yourself Comfortable
     Wear something that allows you to move.  If you know that there will be a dance audition, it might be a good idea to show up in loose-fitting pants or leggings rather than jeans.  Just make sure that you still look pleasant and professional, not like you’ve just come running in all sweaty from the gym.
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Do Your Homework
     Find out everything you can about the show for which you auditioning.  If the show has been adapted into a film, watch it.  If it has a cast recording, listen to it.  If the script is available for purchase, read it.  Use the internet!  There is no such thing as having too much information.  This gets you familiar with the material, and gives you an idea of what roles might be right for you.
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Pretend it’s Opening Night
     If you hate auditioning but love performing, use the same energy that you would for a performance.  Pretend there’s an audience there to entertain, even if there’s only one or two people.  Use all the joy you find in performing during the audition.  This will give the casting team a much clearer idea of your abilities and who you are as a performer.  Light up the stage!
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    I don’t guarantee that using these techniques will always get you the part you want, but they will help make auditioning a less scary and stressful experience.  Each of our summer camps starts with an audition, so if you or your child is registered for camp, I hope you’ve found these tips helpful!    Remember that everyone on the casting team wants you to be your best.  We’re all rooting for you!  Oh, and there’s one more tip…
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Don’t Forget to Have Fun! 
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4 Things YOU Can Do to Help Your Child Succeed in Theatre, by Christopher Blair

     As a teacher at The Savannah Children’s Theatre, I often get asked by parents how they can help their child to be a better performer.  (Most of these questions are about how to improve their child’s abilities so they can get better roles, but that’s a blog post for another day!)   What I want to share today is how to help your children once they are already cast so that you can help them build good work habits.  It’s never too early to start making a good name for yourself! 

1)  Make sure your child always brings his or her script and a pencil to EVERY rehearsal

     You can’t study geography without a map.  You can’t build a house without a hammer.  You can’t rehearse a play without a script!  The script is the textbook, the raw material, and the pencil is the tool.  They allow your child to record their blocking, choreography and character notes in one place.   It’s not like homework; it doesn’t get turned in and graded.  The scribbles and notes only need to make sense to the child writing them.  This practice is a great way for a child to make the production personal to them, recording their unique journey through the play.  This will solidify what they are learning and help them get off-book at a much faster pace.

2) Be a line buddy

     I have never been good at sitting down alone with a script and memorizing lines.  Acting is usually an interactive process with me.  I need someone else there to read the other character’s lines so it becomes a true conversation rather than just a series of words and sentences.  Having a person there to be “on book,” to complete the conversation or to correct errors, will help young actors get “off book” more quickly.  It is nearly impossible to truly act if you are trying to remember the line.  Offer to help.  Enlist a family member or babysitter.  I have a line buddy who helps me with every single production.  He is an invaluable asset.

3) Encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits

     An actor’s body is his or her instrument, and it has to be cared for and fueled properly.  There is no energy drink on the planet that will ever take the place of a good night’s sleep!  This is one that I struggle with as an actor.  It’s so much easier to throw back a cup of Starbucks than it is to get a solid 8 hours of sleep, especially during tech week!  Fast food is fast and convenient, but 9 times out of 10, it’s just a bag of empty calories that burns away quickly leaving us less energized and focused than when we started.  We all need good rest and fuel to make our bodies, voices,  and brains work properly.  Encourage your children to rest during tech weeks and performance weekends, and encourage them to eat healthy, fresh foods that will provide them with the clean energy they need to get through a show.

4) Encourage them to trust their director

     The director is trying to put on the best show they can!  Doubting the director’s choices, especially early in the rehearsal process, can make things stressful for everyone involved.  The director must consider all aspects of the production in each scene (the story, the cast, the budget, the space, the multitude of personalities involved), and while their vision may not be clear at the outset, it will eventually be brought to light.  At SCT, we encourage young performers to share ideas and visions with their teachers, but we need the students to trust that we will make decisions based on the best interest of the show as a whole.  Your trust is vital to our success!

     So there you have it; 4 easy things that parents can do to help kids stay on top of their theatre game.  Begin planting these little seeds of wisdom now and watch your young actors grow into empowered performers!  Just like any other after-school activity, theatre is a discipline.  The harder you work and the more your prepare, the better your outcome will be!  We want all of our students to turn in successful performances, so sharpen your pencils, and let’s get ready to rehearse!