I have been through my fair share of auditions, whether actually going for a part or being on the other side and helping make the casting decisions. Auditions can be a very nerve racking experience whether you are acting for the very first time or you have been in the business for years. Cold read auditions are auditions where you come in with almost nothing memorized; you may have received the material a day in advance or on arrival at your audition. Be it theatre or film, cold read auditions can be a rather chilling experience, no pun intended. Here are my 7 steps to help you ace a cold read audition!
There is a common misconception that it is impossible to prepare for a cold read audition and that is simply false. Although you may not receive the actual audition material until right before, there are quite a few wonderful ways you can prepare. Going in to an audition you should know what you’re auditioning for and therefore have the opportunity to research the show or film and become familiar with not only the characters but the time period, the story, the theme, and so on. Knowing these things should help ease those crazy butterflies and will help you ultimately in having a wonderful grasp on the material. Also, practice!! Use material from the actual script if you have it or find material online from a similar genre. Don’t just practice in front of the mirror, practice in front of people, and get their honest opinions. It will definitely help you in the long run.
2) BE PUNCTUAL
Being early to a cold read audition can help you immensely! For one, you have enough time to relax, stretch, and shake off those nerves. It’s also a great time to get energized. Jump around, dance to a great jam, and move! As crazy as it may seem, it can really help pump you up for an audition. Also, in some cases, if you come early, the material you audition with may be in the waiting room and you can look over it and make decisions on what you want to do to bring the piece to life.
3) BE ADAPTABLE
Learn to adapt: If a piece is serious, take it seriously. Then for a funny piece: Go wild! While many actors and actresses may have a forte; it is important not to get stuck or typecast. When it comes to a cold read audition, the material can go either way. Just prepare to adapt to whatever you are given and give it your all. If one of the directors behind the table asks you to make a change, go for it! If they see that you actually listen and can adapt to the change given, you will have more of a chance of getting the job.
4) KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
If you come to an audition and have no idea why you are auditioning, the casting directors can probably tell. Going back to preparation, other than knowing the material, you should know your connection to the play or film, and why you want to do it. It could be just for fun or something deeper as long as you know why. If they ask you in your audition, why you are there, please don’t say the words “I don’t know.” Be honest, be direct, and speak from the heart.
5) TAKE RISKS!
Whether you’re auditioning for a local play, short film or to be the next big Star Wars star you have already taken a huge risk, congratulations. Now commit, and take even more risks in your actual audition. Don’t be afraid to change your voice, make movements, dance around, and stand out! There is no wrong way to play a character but when you do decide to play it a certain way, commit to it. If you believe it more than likely the casting folks will too.
6) LOOK UP
When doing a cold read, it is very tempting to look down at the paper the entire time. Look up! The people running the audition know that you had a limited time with the piece of work and are aware that it won’t be perfect. Don’t worry about getting the lines word for word and pay more attention to the performance and what you feel. Trust me, looking up will make all the difference in the world.
7) BE YOURSELF
At the end of the day, it is important to be yourself, always. Some of the best auditions I have witnessed are when a person comes in with the biggest smile and isn’t afraid to be themselves then they audition with the most serious piece of work and become another person.
Each audition is a learning experience and at the very least you will just get better and better. Don’t forget to have fun! Break legs everyone!