Here in New York it’s UCB Harold audition time. It’s the time of year when students gather outside of the UCB training center, in the freezing cold, to sign up for a prized audition slot. So it’s been for thousands of years… As someone who has auditioned before I thought I would share some of my experience with all of you and ask for any advice you might have for anybody else. Comments appreciated!
As a word of caution, I have not ever had a successful Harold audition, nor do I know anything you don’t. I just thought this might serve as healthy inspiration for all of you brave enough to audition.
- Relax – I know it’s stressful to perform in front of all the teachers and higher-ups at the school, but remember they want you to succeed and they are on your side. Think of it like performing in front of your friends — friends you don’t usually talk to.
- Perform with friends – I have to say that I’ve performed with strangers and friends and performing with friends has been much easier. Since you get to sign up with anyone already down, check for people you would like to perform with. I know where they are coming from and vaguely their playing style. I know we should be able to play with anybody, but if you get called back, chances are you will play with someone you haven’t.
- Get there early – I can’t stress this enough. Get to the training center at least 15 minutes before your auditions slot. This will give you enough time to meet the people you will be performing with and get used to the energy of the day. If you rush, you will come in in a fluster and have flustered scenes. Get there early and relax for a second before blowing everybody’s minds.
- Warm up – Once you get to the training center you might want to warm up with your group. I would recommend warm-ups that let you see their performance styles like 3 line scenes, or listening/eye contact exercises like swoosh or knife throw. Avoid things like stretch & share as they burn through time and while allow you to learn more about the other performers, but do not warm performance muscles.
- Listen – You are going to be nervous, you are going to have a shit load of adrenaline flowing through your veins, and lets face it most of you will be high on life (PCPs) — remember to listen to what your partner is saying. respond to your partner. Keep in mind, that in panic situations your focus will narrow and you will tend to talk about the things rather than your relationship or behavior. Take a deep breath and respond to the last thing said.
- And – One of my favorite teachers Christina Gausas always says “An improviser shows their personal style by ‘anding’.” This is extremely true for auditions situations. remember how you “and” is your signature. Only you “and” the way you do, because let’s face it “Yessing” is just agreeing with your partner’s “and.” Be sure to give really jusicy “ands.”
- Support – This is totally related to giving juicy “ands”, but remember to support your fellow scene partners in every thing they do. Remember that everything your partners says or does in a scene is BRILLIANT. Take whatever they give you and treat it like gold, because it is. You make yourself look good when you make your scene partners look good.
- Wear comfortable clothes – Hey, know that halter top and mini skirt you’ve been dying to wear… well this may not be the time to wear things that restrict your movement (sorry audition proctors). Guys, keep those balls INSIDE your pants (sorry audition proctors).
- Have Fun! – If nothing else follow this rule. Anybody worth their weight in salt wants to see what excites you. If you are having a miserable time, chances are everybody is having a miserable time. Do what you would want to see on stage. Keep it fun.
- Remember why you do this – Lastly at the end of the day being on a house team, or any place for that matter, is nothing more than an opportunity to perform regularly and not an indication of your worth. Remember that you started performing improv because you loved it, not because you wanted to be on a house team, and continue doing it because you love it, not because you want to be on a house team. Some people put a lot of undue pressure on themselves thinking that the opportunity is it — a sign off on how worthy you are as an improviser — well let me assure you it isn’t. This is one theater’s opinion and they have very limited space and opportunity – so at the end of the day remember there are tons of places to continue to hone your skills in performance. You, as a performer, are never defined solely on the places you perform, but on the quality of your work. If it doesn’t work out today, no sweat – there will be many more times you can do quality work. (Ahem… indie community… cough… send me an e-mail… cough…)
So those are my thoughts going into this. You are all wonderful performers in your own right and no matter what happens in that room (watch out for shitting yourself) at the end of the day, you are still the performer you were when you walked in. Remember to be yourself and have fun — you earned it.