Audition Tips - From Performers And Directors

Before The Audition


Be prepared and be brave — if you’re up against another 50 people you need to stand out. Practise in front of an audience prior to audition — get rid of nerves and giggles — and get them to give you feedback. Do they understand exactly what you are saying? Find out what works.

You are much more likely to be relaxed if you have really thought about your audition and practised what you are going to do. This demonstrates that you are prepared to work hard and be committed to the production, which always goes down well with a production team.

Read the play — don’t just rely on the 15-line audition piece. You should really have an understanding of your character’s journey in the story. If it helps (and not everyone agrees with this) find a copy of the film if there is one. Having read the play (and not just the audition piece) be aware of who your character is talking to in the scene.

If you do manage to see a film version, don’t copy but by all means get inspiration from a performance.

Can you do any basic research? If it’s a historical play find out what you can about the character; if time allows, do some research on the era the play is set.

Read the audition notice! Pay attention to the casting notes and really think about whether the role is your casting. Be realistic about yourself and think about the most appropriate role for your look / voice / type.

Be wary of over-rehearsing your piece — it should, after all, sound as though you are speaking it for the first time.

You can’t exercise without warming up, what makes you think that you can perform artfully without doing the same? Warm up your body, mind, and voice.

Mindset and physical preparation into the audition is as important as the preparation of any audition piece. This includes sleep, eat well and carefully before (no dairy, good mix of carbs and protein), wake up your body and mind (fast music, light exercise, and try to increase your mental focus, perhaps with a bit of caffeine), and hydrate (drink water until it hurts 2-4 hours ahead of the audition — especially for singing).

Do something right before the audition — whether it be hit a high note once or kick ass at Sudoku — to give you gobs of confidence.

Choose an audition piece that shows a straightforward presentation of your capabilities and how it applies to the show. It’s good to have a little bit of glitter in the first auditions, but the first auditions are there to get you to recalls, not to get you the part.

Pay attention to what you wear to an audition — if the audition notice says wear clothing you can move around easily in, do it. You’ll look silly if you struggle in tight jeans when everyone else is in tracky bottoms. Otherwise, don’t come in costume — or bring a range of props (credit the director with some imagination!), but perhaps try and dress a little like the character — if the play is set in the 30s, wear something with an air of the period, for example. If you must bring a costume, don’t spend several minutes putting it back into a suit carrier before leaving. There are other people waiting.....

Focus on having fun and making friends, and be as supportive of your fellow prospective cast members as possible — the director is looking for people who can form a team.

Tits, teeth and well groomed. If the show is going to be glamorous — dress that way! Show ‘em what you’ve got, don’t presume anything.

Respect other auditionees in the waiting area.

During The Audition


Be focused and energised — not tired or hungover.

Be friendly and confident — artistic brooding only alienates the audition panel no matter how good you are.

If the part requires an accent, try to demonstrate that you can do an appropriate one. There are fantastic CDs available at the National Theatre bookshop to help with this.

Remember that the production team are on your side and want you to be as good as you can be so that they can cast their show well and make it fabulous.

Make it easy for yourself — unless directed to, don’t worry about accents and physicality too much. Clarity, diction and an ability to convey the sense and particularly with Shakespeare that you understand the train of thought are what should be key — certainly for the initial audition.

Be prepared to respond to direction in the audition, you may think you know exactly how you want to play the character, but this might not fit with the director’s vision. Don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again. The director may want to see a range of what you can do.

The audition panel are looking for fit, so don’t take any direction or judgements personally, or a reflection of your capabilities. It’s not just about talent.

Relax. Your audition might last a matter of only five minutes so you can afford to take a few seconds to compose yourself.

You are being a different person, but try also to be natural and show some of 'you' — don’t try to 'act' too much! Try to give an honest performance, not a perfect one. Make it honest to both yourself and the character(s) in the show.

Take off your sunglasses.

The people behind the table are most likely slightly bored / tired and they’re human (believe it or not). Engage with them, smile and have fun. Concentrate on breaking the tension, not adding to it.

Concentrate on showing your potential, not all aspects of your talent.

Have fun! Any audition is a chance for you to exercise and grow your craft, and every opportunity to do that is a special one. Savour it, and your joy will come through in characterization.

Phones may go off, or someone interrupt whilst you’re giving your magnificent rendition Lady Macbeth. Don’t be a diva. Either keep calm and carry on, or take direction from your panel.

After The Audition


Take rejection in good spirit - tears and tantrums may mean people are reluctant to consider you favourably for a future role.


Don’t panic! And don’t worry if you mess up at the start of an audition/forget your words etc. The process is about the panel taking a judgment about what you’ll be like after 10 weeks of rehearsals — they’re not expecting to see the finished article.

Don’t perform “This is the moment” if auditioning for a Sondheim.

Don’t do anything from The Last 5 Years unless you are 100% sure that the audition pianist can play it.

Don’t be afraid of trying something a bit different — as long as it’s well thought through and rehearsed, done with conviction.


Sign up with plenty of time to go.

Don’t be needy and ask oodles of pointless questions or ones already answered — read the notice!

Answer emails promptly and confirm your spot asap.

If you know you’re not that bothered. don’t sign up in the first place

If you can’t make it, cancel as soon as you know.

Call if you’re going to be late.

Remember you probably need to be flexible and patient on the day.

We’re all there to put on an awesome show together at some point so be nice!

Be gracious and polite. Like a job interview, your behaviour and impact may have an effect from the moment you walk through the door.

Be on time or early.

With thanks to Sedos members Jacqui Adams, Richard Ash, Kim Barker, Susan Booth, Angharad Davies, Matt Gould, Will Harrison-Wallace, Michael Smith, Rebecca Smith, Maria Waters and Rebecca Weymouth for their contributions.

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