When it comes to auditioning, even the most experienced of actors, the “old hams” of the profession, get the jitters. Ian McKellen still talks about nerves. Barbra Streisand is notorious for being nervous before going on. And these people are among the best and most talented performers in the business. Knowing that pretty much everyone gets nervous, even the most talented of all, should help you NOT to feel like “an outsider” when it hits you.
The next thing to remember is that nerves can actually help a bit. You can even think of it as simply a sign that you want to do well versus you don’t care. Nerves help to focus your mind and make you concentrate on the thing you’re delivering, be it a public speech, an audition, or even the opening night. An old director I know believes that actors who don’t get nervous are the ones that make the most mistakes. If you think it’s all cool and everything is “handled,” it might be that you are simply not present – and, of course, not being present is death on auditions.
Agents, casting directors and producers realize that performers often get nervous on auditions. They may see hundreds of people for a role, and most of them will be at least a bit nervous. It’s not bad to have the nerves. The important thing is learning how to manage them as well as possible so they don’t throw you off any more than necessary.
Here are 5 steps for managing audition nerves:
1. Plan to get there early without rushing.
Nothing will stir up your stress levels more than running late or getting lost or not being ready for what they are going to ask you to do. The night before, get clear about where you’re going. Ideally, you might even want to go by the location to know exactly where to go the next day.
Think about what you’re going to wear (the old adage of first impressions count is undoubtedly true here), and prepare it the night before so that when you get ready you don’t have to find it, wash it, and then iron it!
2. Be confident in your lines, 100% confident.
Know your lines. If you got the sides in advance, make sure you are off book when you do your audition. They will expect you to be word perfect and it would be a wasted opportunity not to be – also knowing the script really well will help you relax.
Make sure you have practiced the piece out loud numerous times. You might even practice with a partner. Doing a mock audition with someone else is invaluable – especially if you don’t get that many auditions. The more settled you are with the words the easier it is to perform.
3. Prepare your character fully the way that your acting teacher has taught you.
You might even have someone ask you questions about the character so it’s clear that you know your character and you feel comfortable in its skin.
4. Practice the breathing or relaxation that works for you.
Everyone is different, but one good relaxation technique is to do deep breathing before an auditions. Find out what works for you and make sure that you relax yourself before going into the casting.
Finally just keep in mind that they people you are auditioning for are not a firing sqaud.
5. Try to enjoy your audition.
If you can relate to the audition as a performance yourself, it can help you to relax because it’s like you’ve already gotten the part. Try to come across like yourself – authentically letting yourself be seen.
Auditions are much more likely to go well if they can see your personality, and you are much less likely to be nervous if you are yourself and not “pretending.”
Break a leg!