Sunday, May 24, 2009

Audition Etiquette

A Sunday morning musing...

after discussions of the audition process from both sides of the table!

 Those of us who have been on both sides of the table realize the craft that must be there - on BOTH sides of the table - to make auditioning and  casting a success, however, there are a few things that come up time and time again about the etiquette of auditioning that I wanted to share today.

One's place in the business is EARNED, it is not assumed nor entitled.  No one is going to give you a chance just because.  Earning your place means recognizing where you are and beginning there and doing whatever it takes to build craft and experience.  

Building your resume does not mean big roles and credits! It means finding projects to participate in that are meaningful to develop your place.  It means taking classes and working on repertoire so you have a sense of yourself and those teachers have a sense of you too and can recommend you unhesitatingly. Sometimes an actor has very little on his/her resume but studies with a reputable teacher and that teacher's name can mean something positive to a casting director!

Remember, the audition begins BEFORE you get into the audition room!  As soon as you walk into the building people are watching you carefully.  The spies are everywhere and will report back to the people who are in charge. Sometimes the most important part of your audition happens while you are waiting your turn.  Decide how you want to be seen - and recognize you are "on" more often than you realize.  Your behavior and attitude OUTSIDE the audition space is being watched just as carefully as it is INSIDE the room.  In fact, by the time you get into the room, you may have been dismissed.  EARN that time, don't throw it away!

If you are emailing for information about an audition - once is plenty.  Unless you don't get the information and you simply follow-up.  Don't try to change the policy of the audition.  The company sets the policy, you do not.  Don't challenge it - you haven't earned that either.  When you are on the other side of the table, you call the shots. When you don't - you follow the company line.  Send your note of request with grace and respect - you are not emailing a friend, you are trying to get a job - make it simple and respectful.  If you expected an appointment and find out it's an open call, don't whine or ask why, suck it up and go to the call!  If you can't make a call or an appointed time, do not expect someone is going to change their audition schedule for you! You are not entitled that - you have not earned that. Business is business. 

A simple thank you follow-up email/note/card is all that is required after an audition.  It keeps your name alive in the minds of the audition panel.  Again, it is not up to you, nor have you earned the right to begin to tell the casting people what didn't go well, what they could do better etc etc.  Yes, I've seen it - too many times!

Leave the attitude at home. Or at least outside the building.  If you call yourself an actor - BE one!!! ACT the part if you have to - but nobody wants attitude at an audition. We want to see a sense of willingness to try, a sense of self, a sense of realization in the process.  We don't want to see or get 'tude.  That shuts the process down faster than anything!  Be prepared to walk in and work to  get that job!!!  You haven't EARNED that job yet - go get it!! If you don't think you need to earn your place, you are most definitely in the wrong business.

KNOW YOUR TYPE.  Or at least the types you TRULY can play.  Sometimes this is the most difficult of all.  We cannot all be the leading man/leading lady or the femme fatale or the villain.  Plays and shows aren't  written like that.  As in the life, there are MANY characters that create a story and we NEED THEM ALL.  It's okay to be the quirky fat girl type, or the geeky computer guy type, or the plain jane type.  Why? Because they are REAL CHARACTERS!!!!!! Get real, be real - as hard as it is sometimes.  You have to find the REALITY of what you can play and then claim it fully.  

Ultimately, know you are being watched very carefully - even though it may seem you are not. How do you want to be seen? In and out of the audition room? via email? by phone? How do you want people to perceive you? MAKE THAT DECISION and WORK FOR IT - EARN IT! And then your audition will become more positive - and even if you don't book that job, you are letting casting people get to know what you are about.  Make them WANT to hire you for something, if not now, SOON.  

None of us are entitled to anything - we must EARN our place.  It's work - it's not handed to us. So, go out and GET IT! 


  1. Go Susan! Thank you!

    People need to realize that getting loud with friends, fighting with their boyfriends on cell phones, and loudly asking every single person what to sing is not going to be viewed as professional! We need to conduct ourselves as if it is an interview and we want to get the job. Business is business. thank you for posting this!

    Knowing your type- vital. Amazing. Great post.


  2. Yes - This is excellent advice to anyone trying to sell themselves for anything - a job interview, making a sale of whatever, etc. And it ties into your post about luck - Control what you can, especially if you're feeling out of control by appointment vs open audition or whatever. One thing you can always be in charge of is your own conduct.

  3. Susan
    As always, you are brilliant!
    Good advice for every situation. Your blog is great to read...when do you find the time??


  4. Susan,
    I was just thinking about the writing aspect you mentionned above in regards to earning your place. I know I'm not really all that familiar with the auditionning world, but it sounds like there's an awful lot of written communication involved in presenting yourself. I was just wondering if you've ever thought of offering a workshop on all those written aspects, that while perhaps minor, do influence to some extent a person's perception of you. Perhaps you have already offered workshops that include this. I just find that in today's electronic world often the craft of writing in a manner suitable to your audience has been abandonned. In my job in healthcare administration, I see far too many instances of this. Perhaps my biggest pet peeve lately is the nurse who ends nearly every sentence with an ellipsis, something she no doubt picked up from the informalness of things like texting ect. It's just not professional and I have a heck of a time reading these notes to figure out what I'm going to do. I wonder if those auditionning really know how to write professional emails, thank you notes ect.
    Just a thought.

  5. thanks all - and yes Tracy, I give workshops on this all the time - and MORE detailed! If you are going to be a professional, you have to LEARN HOW TO BE A PROFESSIONAL!

  6. I knew you wouldn't let me down! :)

  7. Do you have advice on what to include on a thank you follow-up email from an audition. I am familiar with the agent because I recently took a class with him..but I do not know how casual or formal to approach the letter. Please give me advice or a sample email. SOS, Chrissy

  8. when in doubt, make it more formal. Just because you know of an agent, have met etc etc does not give you a familiarity that is friend/colleague. Use Mr/Ms. Thank them for the audition and specify who you are and leave your ENTIRE name plus signature with your website/email/phone after "sincerely yours".

  9. Hello Susan!
    I read you article it helped a lot, thank you. I actually had an audition on April 9, 2012 for theater, but did not know I should send thank you note after audition. They did audition for few days and the last was on April 18, 2012. Do you think I should still send a thank you note to the director who I auditioned or. Would not it look silly, after such almost two weeks. Also its ok i I send thank you note by email
    Thank you

  10. Hi Milana and thanks for writing. If this was an open call it isn't always necessary to write a thank you. If you were called back and have an email address a simple thank you is just fine!

    1. well it was an open call, and I did not get
      call back:(, but I decided still to email the director simple thank you note. Now I don't have to wonder:))
      Thank you again