Mask mandates might be lifting, but in-person auditions aren't back to normal quite yet. Read on for a few virtual audition tips that might help you land your next role!
Although the Covid pandemic has changed the way we conduct virtually every kind of business, it has increased desire for home entertainment. As they say, the show must go on, and with a boom in binge TV and on-demand movie watching, the show has needed more and more talent. But auditioning is not what it used to be. Social distancing, crowd regulations, and mask protocols have driven casting agents to move to online platforms to find the actors they need. How then should actors adapt to this new way of performing?
Set the Stage:
We’ve become so inured to the humdrum of online chats and Zoom meetings that it’s easy to forget what surrounds us while we speak. But online auditions should be in a space that allows you to shine rather than distracting from your performance.
Create a neutral backdrop by setting yourself against a blank wall or by placing a piece of cloth behind you (be sure there are no wrinkles). Blues or grays are recommended to maximize focus on you.
Minimize sound distraction by closing yourself off in a room. Be sure to tell friends, family, and children to stay quiet. Put pets in another room or better yet, ask someone to watch them while you’re auditioning.
Set up lighting that casts you well, such as natural lighting or a circular lamp. Don’t position your camera with a window behind you and avoid using overhead lights, which cast harsh shadows.
Knowing your lines is, of course, a must, but should you need to do a cold reading, actress Winnie Yeung suggests you “Put your lines in a Word document or .pdf or Notes on Mac and … minimize it a bit, and you’re going to put that right below the webcam. Read it just below the webcam so that your eye is somewhat near the camera when you speak.” You should also:
Restart your computer well ahead of time to resolve any technical issues.
Test your camera and sound settings in advance.
Be tidily and appropriately dressed.
Have hair and makeup done.
Go through warm ups and spend the final 10-15 minutes before going live on doing focus exercises.
Take Advantage of the Medium:
First, remember that you're always on and that part of what you will be assessed on is how easy you will be to work with. Maintain good posture, eye contact, and active attention even when not performing your piece. There are also advantages to the new form of auditioning.
Your home can lend to the scene. Boston Conservatory Dean of Theater Scott Edmiston tells the story of an audition where “A student did the song ‘Worst Pies in London’ from Sweeney Todd and she could actually be in a kitchen cooking in a way that gave that song a whole different kind of dimension that was really fun.” Don’t be afraid to use your home space to accent the part you are playing.
While online platforms may limit the space you have available, they open you up to the nuances of a role. Remember that you are acting on camera in close up. Use this extreme focus to dive deep into the text.
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