You’ve Got An Audition: Part Three

PAUSE! Have you read Part One of this series? Click HERE
You have? Great! Have you read Part Two of this series? Click HERE
So glad you’re caught up – let’s continue…

Once upon a time, there was only one room to enter: It was called an audition room. There was no need for the qualifier – “live” audition, “virtual” audition, “self-tape” audition etc. Michael Shurtleff’s golden rule withstood the test of time that “the purpose of an audition was to make a human connection.” I stand by this statement and my own humble contribution to this golden rule is “never walk into a room wanting anything, enter with something to offer.

Today, it’s important we examine and try to redefine and understand where and what this “room” is…
We’ve all heard Marshal McLuhan’s famous quote “the medium is the message.” This has now been emphasized with blinding clarity. I’m tempted to change my metaphors to “Alice through the looking glass” or “The Wizard of Oz,” because we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. We are so far beyond the world of anything Stanislavski, Strasburg, Uta Hagan or Meisner could have ever imagined. There is no Magic IF to transport us here. We are in a place that is altering our very consciousness every single day. We are truly spinning in our houses in a technological tornado, and where we land is anyone’s guess. The rules are being rewritten and anyone who claims to have the answers is, well…my mother taught me “if I didn’t have something nice to say, I should keep it to myself.”

To be honest, (like there is any other way), I am trying to figure all this out as I go. I have always believed a good question is like a flashlight, aimed at the dark to light the path to clarity and knowledge: like Andriel’s light. So, I hope to meet Gandalf and Aragon along the way and not orcs. I’m CONFIDENT there will be a few wrong turns along the way. Thanks for being on the journey. The one thing I believe with all my heart, and the one thing that is a constant (like the C in E=MC2) is that the purpose of the audition is to bring as much of yourself to the room and share it within the parameters of the script itself. It is YOU they are looking for. Below is an overview of the three rooms. Over the next couple of weeks I will drill deeper into each.

We will be considering the following three audition types:
1. An in-room audition
2. A self-tape audition
3. A virtual one audition

“The room” has become a state of mind for at least two of the above audition types. I believe these designations are no longer mutually exclusive or certainly won’t be in the near future. Our brains are going through some major changes. We’re being affected more and more on a neurological and anatomical level. For example the newly discovered virtual audition. You get your audition link and you are waiting in the “waiting room,” anticipating your entrance into the “audition room.” This is odd conceptually…you’re still in your own room. The waiting room and audition room are, in fact, the same place. Currently, we call these auditions “Zoom auditions,” but really we should get used to calling what they are, “virtual auditions.”

So, a quick refresh: There are three ROOMS, and only one of them is real. The other two are (due to familiarity and the reinforcement of language) being perceived to be real. We have to start with your own consciousness, because it’s your consciousness that’s going to enter one of these three rooms during your audition.

The main differences between these three mediums have to do with how to achieve intimacy and communicate within each of the mediums. With live auditions, you have more visual clues to work with than the other two. In fact the Self-Tape provides you with none! it feels nearly impossible to read the room when in a virtual audition. Let’s deal with the major differences between in-room auditions and virtual auditions.

Let’s play out an ‘typical’ live audition: You arrive at your audition and you sit in the waiting room. You can feel the energy of the waiting room. You attempt to relax your nerves and you look around taking in the stimulus around you. “Oh, look, there are three of me here…etc.” You can read the waiting room. You clock that they’re five minutes behind, and when the reader finally comes out to get you, you are able to pick up the body language and rhythm of whether they’re stressed or relaxed. That one-minute chat with your reader (as you go from the waiting room into the audition room) gives you a lot of clues – a lot of data has been processed from point A to B. You have time to adjust your consciousness.

Let’s play out an ‘typical’ virtual audition: You get sent a link via email from your agent. You set up your own home studio. Is your mic working? Are you going to sit or stand(hard to do both)? Will your backdrop collapse? Will your dog bark or a cat purr at your leg? And of course the dreaded WIFI? You click on the link at your audition time and you wait in a virtual waiting room. You review your tech. The waiting room is a blank white screen. There’s no data, no stimulus to read and you have no indication on when your reader is “coming to get you.” Eventually, seconds or many minutes pass and you’re “let in” the room. Wait! Have I gone into their room or have they come into mine?

In the virtual audition, you do not have that point A to B to get comfortable. When you switch from the waiting room to in-room it’s almost instantaneous. In the virtual audition, we’re not getting those visceral clues that hundreds of thousands of years of evolution prepared us for. This is something to keep in mind.

Training Our Bodies 
How do we begin to train our bodies to not become disoriented by this new reality?

I suggest that when you have a virtual audition treat it like a live audition in terms of preparing and planning. Does it usually take you 45 minutes to get to your audition by car or transit? Great. Carve out that same time before your virtual audition. Remind those you may be living with you are not home. You have left and gone to your audition.

When you’re in a live audition your reader is going to be some distance away from you (5-6 feet away), and this is what you’re used to. Now, your reader is on a box on a screen, your focal length is being altered and if your focal length is being altered, then so is your consciousness. These are the things you’re going to have to start asking yourselves about what’s going on in you – regardless of the audition medium. For each of us it will be different. A higher level of awareness and consciousness is now a prerequisite.

How did you prepare? What was going on within you as you prepared? How has it changed over the course of this last year? Maybe you aren’t even consciously aware of it. Look back – is there a slight difference in the methods of your preparation? We must start questioning (not in a negative way but in pursuit of internal health) Ask yourself next time you receive a self-tape audition or a virtual audition: What is different? What is the same?
What remains universal (regardless of medium) is that it’s your job to bring as much of yourself to what you’re doing and share it. What we don’t know presently and what I’m currently contemplating: Is it refracted, telescoped, magnified as a result of passing through these mediums? Even though our physical being is miles away from the audition, can we span that distance with our essence? Self awareness (not answers) is the safest port of call.

I’ll dive into each of these mediums more deeply next week. As we are coming out of lockdown a new room has emerged. More on that next week.