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5 Tips for Surviving the Audition Waiting Room

Audition Waiting Room TipsReady for your big break? Auditions can be nerve-wracking – and the time you spend sitting in the waiting room before the audition is often where your nerves get the best of you. To help you get prepared, take a look at these 5 acting audition tips from Brooklyn, NY teacher Caitlin G.:

If you’re an actor going on an audition, you already have enough to worry about.  What am I wearing?  Is my resume updated?  Do I know where I’m going?

And then there’s the acting part of it.

On top of all this, the audition waiting room can be a difficult ordeal, to say the least. Picture it: you’re sitting with five other actors, all of whom look just like you and most of whom are much more experienced. And they’ve all got personalities. One of them is reading the audition lines out loud – really loud. Two others are exchanging stories of their latest gigs, with no regard for how long it’s been since the last one you landed. Another is doing vinyasa yoga on the floor, and the last one is openly staring daggers at you.

How are you supposed to focus with all of that going on?

Well, here are a few acting audition tips that might help:

1. Arrive as early as possible.

Getting to the audition site on time – whether it’s an actual rehearsal studio or a college student’s dorm room – is half the battle. Getting there early will ensure that you’re in true fighting shape. 15-20 minutes should suffice, but half an hour is golden. You’ll have time to use the restroom, make sure your face is on straight, and find a comfortable, quiet spot to settle in and center yourself. If the audition is a cold reading, this should give you plenty of time to look over your lines.

And there’s an added bonus: if the casting team happens to be running ahead of schedule, or the auditioner before you hasn’t arrived, you may get to go in early and skip the waiting room altogether. Score.

2. Don’t socialize.

It can be tempting, and there’s always one actor at the audition who wants to make friends. Trust me. Sometimes that actor is just nervous and they figure having a friendly conversation will calm their nerves. Sometimes it’s the actor’s way of subtly sussing out the competition.  You never know what you’re going to get, so avoid it if you can. You may end up in a conversation you don’t want to be having, especially not before your audition.

My advice: bring an iPod, put in those earbuds, and (quietly) rock out to any playlist that makes you feel confident and energized. You can always pause-and-play as auditioners come and go, just to make sure you don’t miss your appointment. If possible, find a quiet corner where you can be all by your lonesome and get in the zone with no distractions. As long as it doesn’t take you too far away from the audition monitor, of course.

3. Be helpful and kind.

As I said above, don’t socialize – but don’t flat-out ignore other auditioners when they ask for help. If someone’s lost or needs a simple question answered, be courteous and give them the help they need. Pay it forward. Don’t be the jerk who’s too competitive to tell a fellow auditioner where the restroom is. You’ll set the tone for the whole room, and everyone will appreciate it.

4. Stay loose.

I know you’re nervous, but don’t sit in the same position for too long, especially if you follow the Tip #1 and get there half an hour early. Get up and walk around every once in a while. Have a stretch, especially if you’re doing a theater audition. You want your body to be warm, and sitting in one spot can mean stiffness when you finally do get up to audition.

If you do opt to stretch, I recommend finding a quiet place to do it, as a courtesy to the other actors in the room. Your power squats are impressive, but they may intimidate others.

5. Remember: you deserve to be there.

Always remember, you’re there for a reason. You belong at this audition. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently. The kind of auditioners who would insinuate such a thing are the exception rather than the rule, but they will cross your path from time to time. Don’t let them get to you. You’re just as qualified to be there as they are.

The acting audition tips above may not work for everybody, and that’s okay. What’s most important is discovering what works best for you. If you’re not sure, don’t worry: it’ll come with practice. The more auditions you go on, the closer you’ll be to figuring out the ritual that makes you the most comfortable, confident, and capable of delivering the best audition possible.

Break legs!

CaitlinGCaitlin G. coaches acting in New York City and everywhere else via Skype. She has a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA from Boston University. She specializes in transitioning actors from the stage to the camera, and loves working with actors who are just starting out. Book lessons with Caitlin here!

 

 

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Photo by Emily Tan

6 Kids’ Acting Games to Play With Your Budding Actor

Creative Acting Games To Play With Your ChildWhether you’re the parent of a budding actor, or a drama enthusiast hoping to ignite a stage spark in your child, there are plenty of cool acting games you can play at home! Acting games are used in many top drama classes and workshops because they’re really handy for developing key acting and performance skills in a fun way. Another cool thing about acting games is that they cost nothing but time and creativity, yet yield educational and personal development as well as hours of precious family fun time!

Here’s a list of our favorite acting games to play with young aspiring stars. Ideally, these games should be played in a group of three or more, but there are a few you can try in pairs if it’s just you and your little actor. Break a leg!

Warming Up

1) Tongue Twisters

Getting warmed up is essential for any drama lesson and good performance. Many drama teachers introduce tongue-twisting acting games to kids of all ages to help them focus on articulation. A great way to start is by asking your kids to scrunch up their faces and make them as small as possible for a couple of seconds. Then, get them to stretch their expressions to make them as wide as they can go. After a quick nose wiggle, you’re all set to twist those tongues! Here are a few tongue-twisting favorites to try:

  • Unique New York. Unique New York.

  • Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?

  • Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry.

  • She sells seashells on the seashore.

  • Kitten in the kitchen.

Ideally you should start by saying the tongue twisters slowly together. Once the confidence is up you can ask your child to say it on their own. While doing so you should also encourage your little one to use their stage voice, not a normal voice – meaning, their voice should carry across the room. Depending on the age of your kids, you could take this up a level by assigning an emotion to each tongue twister; for example, you could try angry ones, happy ones, sad ones, and so on. Or even better, as a challenge, you can try to gradually increase the emotion per turn (this works well even if it’s just two players).

Building Ensembles and Trust

2) One-Word Story

This is a great game to help with focus and teamwork. While facing each other or seated in a circle, the first player says a single word to begin the story. Progressing through the circle, the person on the left of Player One says the next word, and so on. The aim is to tell a comprehensive story through only one word exchanges.

3) Walking Blind

As the name says, this game is all about walking blindly in pairs to build trust and encourage players to be more comfortable with each other. This game must be played in silence as the first player is asked to close their eyes. Player Two must then guide Player One around the room by only holding their hand or shoulder. This continues for about two minutes, with the couple wandering around in silence – then of course you can switch roles. The aim of the game is for the blind player to be more trusting, and the leading player to create a safe environment. At the end of this game it’s great for all players to reflect and chat about how their partner made them feel safe, and how they made their partners feel safe.

Breaking Out

4) Exaggeration Circle

There are many acting games that are designed to help even the shyest of little actors break out of their shells within a few moments. One of our favorites is the Exaggeration Circle. In this game, players can stand in a circle or facing each other. The goal of the game is to gradually dramatize Player One’s gesture. Player One can start small, such as with a little finger pointing. Then, Player Two can make it bolder, with Player Three even adding a shout to the pointing, and so on. Obviously this can be rotated if you’re playing it with a smaller group. The thing to remember is that all players must maintain the integrity of the initial gesture. We find this game to be a handy start to larger themes for character development later on.

Increasing Focus

5) Mirror

Actors need to be aware of their bodies and be able to convey a message through the slightest body movements. This game is a cool activity that can help with movements as well as general team building. You can play this one in pairs with players standing opposite each other. Player One begins by being the person looking into a pretend mirror, with Player Two acting as the reflection. During the game, Player One should move very slowly and Player Two must mirror every movement, including facial expressions. You can take this game up a notch after a while by nominating no leader or follower – just slow mirroring.

Exploring Creativity

6) On the Spot

Creative juices must have constant flow on stage! This fun acting game is fantastic for stretching the imagination and increasing spontaneity. To begin, create an imaginary stage and get players to step forward one at a time. Explain that one person will be in charge of picking a theme or topic, then the remaining players will need to perform something that fits in into that theme – it can be really simple, like a sound, or a pose, or a motion – anything that links to the theme. Try to encourage out-of-the-box interpretations of common themes.

We hope that you’ve found our list handy and we trust that it will give you hours of family fun while learning new skills! If learning how to act is something you or your child is interested in exploring further, enrolling in private acting lessons can make a big difference. Working with an acting coach creates the perfect environment to enhance acting strengths and improve weaker areas of performance – all in a very safe space. Give it a try, and remember – have fun with it!

 

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 Photo by Michelle Claire Woolnough

An Actor’s Life: Your Career Path to New York Shows

Tips On Becoming A Performer In New York Broadway ShowsIf you’re an aspiring Broadway performer, the steps you take during high school play a significant role in your success on the stages of New York shows in the future. Sure, you sometimes hear stories of people who book amazing lead roles in shows after a single audition, but that’s not a realistic view of how it all happens – for most actors, at least. Ask any working Broadway performer – New York is not a city that hands you success simply because you’ve just moved there. Hard work, discipline, and strategic career steps are required.

When it comes to career development as a Broadway actor, like in any other career path, proactive planning and early efforts go a long way. And since Broadway performers needing to be accomplished in singing, acting, and dancing (i.e. a “triple threat”), there are plenty of steps you can take now to help you on your journey to on-stage success. It’s not enough to sit around singing or doing some improv with your friends; nor is it enough to occasionally go to a drama workshop or two. Making it as an actor in top New York shows will require you to put in your 100% all of the time. The work environment is extremely competitive and not very friendly to newbies – you have to be prepared for this, both physically and mentally.

So ask yourself: do you truly have the desire and motivation for a career in show business? If you are fully convinced that Broadway performing is what you were designed for, read on for our career advice:

1) Increase Your Personal Organization Skills Now

A large part of success in a sustainable career as an actor depends on the ability to manage yourself and your time. Working in New York, there will be no cute reminders from Mom to get to rehearsals or auditions on time – it’s all up to you. Start now by organizing your time with a handy day planner. You can apply it to school, homework, sports, social, and even downtime (sufficient rest is essential for any performer!).

Even though you may have an agent one day, it’s not their job to manage your every waking moment. Getting to places on time – and sometimes, with very short notice – is all a part of the job, so it’s best to master your time management skills now. Running late in show business is not an option; the show will inevitably go on without you. On the odd occasion that you are late, the best thing to do is to communicate your plausible reason clearly. If you don’t have one, take responsibility for your mistake. By applying this principle to your day-to-day life now, you will grow to be a dependable employee one day.

2) Understand Auditions

Audition processes for shows may vary, but it’s important that you are prepared for and patient with the audition process. Even when it comes to smaller productions in your hometown or at your school, ask questions and do some research to ensure that you are fully prepared to play your character.

You’ll also need to get used to auditioning overall. Some people have the misconception that auditions are only for newbies and that once you’re a working actor you don’t have to audition anymore. Nope! Working actors and even major stars have to audition all the time. It’s not always about you – it’s about the character – so don’t take rejection personally. It’s normal to have ten auditions or more before booking a single job. Stay strong and keep focusing on your own skill development.

3) Enroll in Acting Lessons

While we’re on the subject of skills development, this is one of our strongest recommendations: find an acting coach in your area who has a special interest in preparing students for New York shows. The best way to ensure that you’re on track in terms of career development is to regularly work with a private acting coach. Long term, one-on-one lessons with an experienced mentor will help you develop your skills and confidence in pursuing your dream. Here’s a quick look at the skills you can learn with the help of a private coach:

  • Theatrical Acting:  While working with amazing scripts from Shakespeare, as well as works from other popular playwrights like Chekhov or Ibsen, you will enhance your skills in text analysis and play-reading. These efforts will be built around productive character investigation from the page, which is a must-have skill for all Broadway actors.

  • Theatrical Singing: According to your goals and natural ability, you can learn valuable techniques like breathing, pitch, tone, diction, and rhythm. Overall gracefulness and stage presence will also be trained. The aim of these lessons will be improvement (not perfection) as you embrace and enhance your natural talent.

  • Theatrical Dancing: Understanding expression through movement is another important factor that can be addressed through private coaching. Broadway performers should aim to be accomplished actors, singers, and of course, dancers – your versatility will be your strongest selling point! In your dance lessons you will learn how movement directly relates to vocal health and general performance with your body taking center stage.

Remember: even experienced Broadway stars need regular coaching, so try to adopt a positive attitude toward lessons and learning as a normal part of your career path.

4) Get Inspired

Make an effort to really absorb the culture of New York shows – if you live in the city, try to see as many shows as you can! If you don’t see the shows live, how will you know what to prepare yourself for and who to aspire to be like? Think of going to shows as a form of acting homework!

Working on Broadway is as serious as any corporate job – and the hours are sometimes longer than eight per day, so don’t let the spotlights and pretty costumes fool you. The keys to a successful career path to New York shows are discipline and planning ahead. A little extra effort now will have audiences shouting for an encore of your solos pretty soon. Good luck!

 

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 Photo by Rob Boudon

Audition Monologues for Kids, Teens, and Adults: Every Actor’s Worst Nightmare!

Audition Monologues for Kids, Teens, and Adults: Every Actor's Worst Nightmare!Struggling to find that perfect audition monologue? It can take some time, so be prepared to be patient! Read on as Courtney P., one of our acting teachers in the Orlando area, offers her advice:

Let’s face it, most actors HATE monologues. They are tedious, and most of the time, it’s ridiculously hard to find the right one. Monologues are, however, necessary in the entertainment Industry, and many times your monologue can make or break an audition.

The process of perfecting your monologue can be long and drawn out, but working with an acting coach can really be beneficial. Many of my students have booked jobs, found an agent, or wowed audiences with their pieces. Finding and perfecting the right piece for you is crucial. Here are a few tips that can help you in your search:

1) Find the right piece for YOU

The right monologue is out there, you just have to look. There are so many ways to find great pieces. Monologues from plays, TV shows, and films are all great places to start! The possibilities are endless. In many ways, monologues are like a great pair of  shoes. You have to try the monologue on for size. Does it fit your personality? Does it inspire you with ideas? Does it complement your skills? It has to be more personal than just Googling monologues and picking the first one you see. You should try out a few until you find the perfect one.

Tip: Check out Daily Actor for a great database of monologues, plus helpful tips for choosing!

 

2) Make sure your monologue is age and situation appropriate

This is a BIG one!  For children, there should be an age range of no more than one year younger and one year older. Adults can usually span about five years or so. As an adult, even if you look young, it’s not appropriate to use a teenage monologue, and likewise for kids/teens, stick to something close in age. As you’re searching for your audition monologue, keep in mind if you’re looking for monologues for kids, teens, or adults. The director can use their imagination if they need to consider you for a younger or older role.

Also, consider your audience when choosing a piece. Are you auditioning for a children’s theatre or family-friendly theme park ? An agency? A dramatic role in an adult play? As an actor you should have a few different pieces in your repertoire. A child-friendly monologue, a PG or PG-13 piece, and maybe something a little more heavy. Choosing the right monologue for the situation can really save you a lot of embarrassment and keep the casting director, director, or agent from feeling awkward.
 

3) Practice makes perfect

Now that you or your coach has helped you find the right piece, you should really begin to explore the piece. Make strong choices, and think outside of the box.

You should try to keep your audition monologues fresh and rehearse them as much as possible, while continuing to add new pieces. Having a coach or qualified friend view your monologue and give notes is really important; often they can point out mistakes you’re overlooking or give constructive criticism.

Taking on the challenge of finding an audition monologue can be daunting, but once you find the right piece, you will flourish! Take the time to find complementary pieces for you. Make sure to practice often and keep adding new material! Happy hunting!
 

Courtney P.3Courtney P. teaches speaking voice, stage performance, and acting lessons in Winter Springs, FL. She specializes in TV & Film, Commercial and Stage Technique, and has worked with some of the industry’s top casting directors. Learn more about Courtney, or search for a teacher near you!

 

 

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Super Cute Kids Re-Enact 2014 Oscar Nominated Films So You Don’t Have To

Wow, the Oscars are coming up fast! The 2014 Academy Awards will air this Sunday, March 2. If  you haven’t had time to catch all of this year’s big pictures (or just haven’t made your own viral re-enactments yet), let these amazing kids take care of business for you. Read more

You Know You're an Actor When...

Academy Award Nominees, Before They Were Stars

academy award nomineesWe’re so excited to see the announcement for this year’s Oscar nominations! We love trying to guess who will win and debating our favorite performances and the best films of the year. There’s so much great talent this year, the Academy Awards and other shows are sure to be a blast!

It’s also fun to reflect on how even the brightest stars had to get started on smaller roles and go through a learning process to get to where they are today. We love looking back to see how they made it big, and it’s valuable for acting students and other performers to see that success doesn’t look like a straight line and stardom doesn’t happen overnight. Take a look at just a few nominees’ roads to fame and you’ll see what we mean! Read more

Acting Tips: Change Your Perspective on Auditions

If you’re heading to an audition, should you care about getting the part? In the video below, Marietta acting teacher Erin B. shares some acting tips and why it might actually be better not to worry so much about the outcome of your next audition:

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Acting Tips: What’s in your Toolbox?

acting tips

As with any profession, actors have tools. Just as a doctor needs a stethoscope or a fireman needs a hose, there are certain items an actor must keep in their toolbox. I usually start classes or lessons by asking my new students or clients what they think these tools might be. Sometimes, the answer is very literal (“Script!”), and other times abstract (“Passion!”).

None of these is a wrong answer. Being an actor or artist is subjective and everyone’s process is different and valid. But there are basic acting tips that I believe actors must start with in order to find success as a storyteller. The most essential acting tools are voice, body, and imagination. If you think about it, these three things inform all of the more specific techniques an actor might utilize when crafting a character or performance. While perhaps not as tangible as a stethoscope or a hose, your voice, body, and imagination are still items that need to be exercised.

When working on material so much is decided upon by these building blocks. Decisions about one thing can inform the other. When I am creating a character, I always find the physicality first. I pick a body part that this character would lead from. You can use clues that exist in the text to decide (for instance if your character works at an office, maybe they hunch over and lead with their shoulders) or you can let your imagination (another tool) run wild – maybe they lead with their arms, creating a confident stride, or maybe they have a swagger that makes them appear as if they are leading with their hips.

Once this is established, I let the other tools play around a bit. I find the pitch and timbre of the voice and I create little back stories. The audience may never know about the back story you invent, but it will deepen your own connection to this character whose skin you are slipping into for a spell.

That is the order I use, but there is no rule to follow. See what works best for you. Maybe you will find the voice first and that will help you understand the physical life. Maybe your character is less fully drawn and there aren’t as many details. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks and before you know it you have found their voice, the way they sit, stand, walk, run, etc.

You don’t have to wait for a role to practice these tools. In fact, you shouldn’t. Just like we go to the gym to keep our physical fitness up, we need to do the same with our acting muscles. Sharpen them from time to time. Create characters just for the sake of shaking the dust off. It can be fun and lead to some very rewarding self-scripting. Now of course there are many different styles of acting. On-camera, Musical Theatre, classical, contemporary, etc. But no matter what your task at hand, just by using your voice, body, and imagination you will be on your way to creating something that is as rewarding for you as it is for the audiences that get to witness your work.

Ethan P. teaches singing and acting lessons in New York, NY. He specializes in career coaching and helping his students get ahead in the entertainment industry. Ethan has been teaching for 5 years. 

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The Most Important Thing Actors Can Learn from Musicians

Actors, did you know you can learn a lot from musicians? Because the greatest actors make their craft appear lifelike and natural, it’s easy to forget that just like musicians, actors also need to learn their instrument and take plenty of time to practice. Acting teacher Matt G. shares his insights and has some great pointers to help actors improve their skills. Read more