Archives for posts with tag: auditioning

The Milwaukee Generals are almost upon us, so I thought now would be a good time to revisit some thoughts on auditioning.  Here are my thoughts from a couple of years ago.  I’ve done a bit of judicial editing, but my thoughts on this process haven’t changed that much.  Hope it helps.

 

Fletcher

 

Having attended the Milwaukee Generals for over a decade now, I’ve come across all sorts of things that auditionees do which sabotage the work at hand.  I’m continually amazed by some of these gaffs, but to be fair, how could they know?  I understand just how hard and awful the process of auditioning is having been an actor for the last 35 years.  To that end I’ve decided to share some of the dos and don’ts of auditioning.  I throw in the caveat that these are strictly from my own viewpoint and that while they deal with auditioning in general, they are specific to the peculiarities of myself and the Milwaukee Generals.

 

I’m dividing this “tutorial” into three parts: the Introduction, the Headshot and Resume, and the Audition.

 

The Introduction 

 

If you have the chance (and that’s a big if) take a peek at the room you are going to walk into ahead of time.  Auditioning is an intimidating thing and walking into a room blind is hateful.  Find out where the auditors are going to be sitting and figure out where you are going to sit or stand.  Find out if there is a chair available and what kind it is.  Nothing worse than preparing a piece that requires you to spin a chair around and sit on it backwards only to find out that the chair has arms.  For those of you new to the Milwaukee Generals, you are walking into a room to face a group of auditors in a horseshoe configuration. 

 

If you walk into the room and you find that there are auditors behind you, you’ve come in too far.  Back up so that we can see your face.

 

Take your time introducing yourself and your pieces.  Know that we are furiously passing your headshots around as quickly as we can, flipping them over, and pouring over your resume and then trying to catch what pieces you are going to do and, in many cases, trying to jot that info down.  We see a lot of auditions during the course of the day, and it’s extremely difficult to keep them straight.  Give us a chance to remember you.  I’ll never fault an auditionee for taking his or her time introducing their pieces.  When in doubt, wait until the majority of us have finished and are looking back up at you before you begin your first piece.

 

Don’t undress in the room.  This is a rather new phenomenon that has started happening lately.  When you walk into the room, be prepared to go.  I don’t want to see you come in, and then slowly take off a coat, scarf, shirt or any other item of clothing as you are introducing yourself.  That’s weird and distracting.  Leave that stuff outside.

 

This is for both your intro and exit; don’t apologize for your audition.  Look, you only get one shot at this, so no matter how poorly you’ve prepared or think you’ve done during the audition, do it boldly and with a smile on your face.  I can’t tell you how many people come into the room with the body language of, “Uh, hi.  I don’t really know why I’m here and I’m sorry to waste your time.”  Conversely, I’ve seen a lot of people who have finished a perfectly fine audition and then ruin it by sheepishly excusing themselves on the way out.  Don’t do it!  It sucks all of the energy out of your audition.

 

Generally speaking, goofy introductions and/or exits will fall flat and have a good chance of being irritating.  I know it’s a defensive thing, but just don’t do it.  Come in, smile and introduce yourself.  When you are finished, say thank you.  Resist the urge to ask us if we have any questions or if there’s anything else we’d like to see.  Trust me; if we have those questions we won’t let you leave the room until we know the answers.

 

Give us the info we need.  It has become fashionable of late to name the play your audition is from, but not the part; or worse yet, not tell us anything at all.  This seems particularly true of Shakespeare.  Don’t make it a guessing game.  Conversely, don’t give us too much information.  In most cases I don’t need to know the author and I certainly don’t need to be told that Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.  And occasionally an auditionee will give us a summary of the piece they are about to give.  Nope, don’t do it.

 

While we are on the subject of introducing your pieces, proceed to do your pieces in the order in which they were introduced.  Different auditors are there for different reasons.  Shakespeare companies have less interest in your modern/comic piece and are waiting for the Macbeth you are going to do.  If you say you are going to do your classical piece second, do so.  They may use that brief period of time while you are performing your first piece to scan your resume and see what other classical pieces you have done and where.

 

Oftentimes the audition goes wrong during the intro.  I spend a whole day with my students having them do nothing but walking into a room and introducing themselves.  This is surprisingly difficult, and few people spend any time on that part of their audition.  Auditionees actually stumble over their names, forget what pieces they are doing, mispronounce the playwright’s name (which is just one more reason that info is unnecessary), mumble their info in such a way that we can’t understand it or turn their back and drag a chair across the room while making their intro.  Enter the room.  If you are going to use a chair make a decision; either get the chair, pick it up and set it where you want and then introduce yourself, or introduce yourself and then get set.  Trust me; we will welcome the extra time to look at your resume.

 

Unless we stand up and stick our hands out, no need to come over and shake our hands.  As I’ve stated, we’re going to a whole lot of people over the course of this very long day.  There are also upwards of twenty people in that room and you won’t want to shake all of our hands.

 

The Headshot and Resume 

 

Look like your headshot.  It’s bothersome when you don’t.  You’re a little heavier than you’d like to be?  So what.  Maybe we’re looking for just that heavy person.  It’s going to be very difficult to remember you later if you don’t look like your headshot.

 

Staple or glue your resume to your headshot.  I can’t tell you how irritating it is to get a loose resume.  Or worse yet, one in which the resume is paper-clipped to the headshot, actually covering the headshot.  It does nothing but make you look unprofessional and your audition might fail right there before you even get in the room.  And take the time to trim it to fit.  I file these away and those odd sized ones just might not make it into my filing cabinet.

 

While we’re on the subject of attaching your resume, don’t attach anything else.  I’m really happy you’re currently employed with your one-man show, but I don’t want a flyer or postcard attached advertising said show.

 

Leave whitespace on your resume.  We’re doing everything we can to remember the interesting things about you in case we should want to cast you.  If you jamb-pack your resume from margin to margin we have no room for such notes.  It also makes them hard to read and smacks of desperation.  “Look how much I’ve done!”  We don’t need to know everything you’ve done and if you have stuff on there from twenty years ago you might think about some judicial editing.

 

Use a decent sized font.  We’re at this all day and my eyes get tired.  If you give me an 8 point font I’ll want to throw your resume in the discard pile then and there.  Also, weird or funny fonts are irritating.  It just adds an extra hurdle where I don’t need one.  And if you use comic sans I will throw your resume away.

 

There is a somewhat uniform way of setting up your resume.  Feel free to diverge, but just know that doing so will increase the likelihood that I won’t be able to find the info I’m looking for.  At the top should be your name and under that your vitals.  Height, weight, eye color, hair color, telephone and email address.  If you are a singer you may want to put your vocal range.  Do not give us your address.  In this day and age that simply isn’t safe and every now and then you send your resume to an unscrupulous person who turns around and sells your resume to other places.  Don’t include your age or tell us what your age range is.  That’s our job and why would you want to limit yourself that way?  Likewise, don’t include the dates of your productions.

 

Below your name and vitals should come the body of your resume which is your stage experience.  There are four things I want to know here: the theatre you worked at, the show you performed in, the part you played, and who directed you.  Set them up in neat columns so that I can easily scan through them.  Don’t be afraid to list multiple shows with one theatre, that’s a good thing; that says that you worked at that theatre and they liked you enough to ask you back.  I am very leery of the auditionee that has 30 theatres listed and has only one show at each of them.

 

Below the stage experience section should be your education and special skills.  Still in high school?  It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you, so don’t be ashamed of it.  Tell us where you went to school and who some of your teachers were, but leave your GPA off.  Those names may open up a conversation.  I’m not really interested if you took a weekend class here or there.  Special skills should be special.  I don’t know how special having a driver’s license is.  Fire eating is more impressive (although at this last audition every other person had that listed) and I certainly want to know if you can speak a foreign language fluently.  I assume a good actor can learn dialects, so for me I don’t really care.

You may have a lot of film and/or TV credits; you may have a lot of directing credits.  I don’t care.  I’m here to audition stage actors.  In this day and age you should be able to have several different resumes at your disposal.  If you are coming to the Milwaukee Generals, cater your resume to your clients, which are almost exclusively theatres.

 

Have enough resumes.  We don’t like sharing.

 

Don’t lie on your resume.  You will be busted and then you’ve lost all credibility.  If you took a weekend class don’t make it sound like you received a degree.  If you took a beginning improv class don’t say you are part of the troupe.  If you were Gregory in Romeo and Juliet once upon a time, don’t claim that you are a trained fighter.  You’re not.  We know, we always know.

 

The Audition 

 

So now we come to the heart of the matter.  First know that within the first ten or fifteen seconds we know if we like you or not.  Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds during the intro.  That’s just the way it goes.  Knowing that, limit the length of your pieces.  They really should be no longer than a minute a piece.  I spent one whole afternoon timing auditions.  I would look down at my watch when I started to lose interest and it was always between 55 and 65 seconds.  Even if you’re great, going beyond that is too much.  In the past, many people were going over three minutes and that was just for one of their pieces.  Leave us wanting more.

 

In picking your pieces be very selective.  If you choose something offensive it is likely to offend and turn off at least a few people in the room.  Have a really good reason for picking such a piece. Of course if you are still looking for a piece right now you are probably in trouble.

 

Don’t do stand up.  I’ve never seen it work and theatre is not stand up.  I’ve also never seen a piece that an actor has written for themselves work.

 

Contrast your pieces.  That doesn’t mean that one has to be modern comic and the other classical dramatic.  You can contrast two modern funny pieces and I will be quite delighted.  But standing during one and sitting during the other is not contrast.  Show us two different sides of yourself and hopefully those two pieces are different than your introduction.  Remember that your intro is a chance to show us a different side of yourself that will be contrasted by your two pieces.  Prove that you can act.

 

Don’t do serial killer monologues.  They are overdone and not usually all that interesting.

 

Don’t find a monologue in a monologue book.  They generally aren’t very good and they are overused.  Nothing like seeing the same bad monologue four times in the same day.  Read plays, lots of them, and find something that speaks to you.

 

People bend over backwards trying to find the obscure Shakespeare piece that no one has ever seen.  In doing so they generally go to some of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays.  You know why they are lesser known?  Because they’re not as good.  You know what I’ve never seen?  Someone audition with “To be or not to be.”

 

Don’t wear anything that is more disturbing or more interesting than you are.  I’ll spend the whole audition wondering, “Why did he wear that?” instead of watching your audition.  Look nice, but make sure you are comfortable and can move around.  And men, unless you live in a suit and tie 24/7 and look great in it, don’t wear a suit and tie.  It always comes off as amateurish.

 

Your pieces should actually be scenes in which you are engaged in some kind of action as opposed to telling us a funny story.  I want to see your struggle, not your charming me with a funny anecdote.

 

Feel free to use me as your point of focus.  I will always sit in one of the corner seats for just that reason.  But know that not everyone is okay with that.  However, if you stand two feet in front of me and confront me, you’re going to lose me.  I’ll still stare straight at you and be the best auditor I can be, but I’m no longer really watching you.  I’m beginning to wonder if you’re crazy enough to jump the table, and others in the room are wondering the same thing.

 

After you are done with a piece do not say scene.  Worse yet, do not wave your hand in front of your face and say scene.

 

Do make your transitions clear and clean.  Do something, usually a physical move, to let us know one piece has ended and the next has begun.  Of course, if they are highly contrastable pieces, that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

If you have an emotional piece and are able to go to that place, good for you.  If you end that piece and take a long time coming out of it and composing yourself, showing us just how hard that it was to deliver that piece, I will no longer love you.

 

If you get off to a bad start, ask if you can start over.  We will always say yes.

 

No props.  We’ll see the letter in your hand if you are invested in your scene.  And never, ever, ever…NEVER! bring a gun into the room.  Especially not one loaded with a half-charge blank which you then hold to your head and pull the trigger.  Sigh.  It now needs to be said.

 

And that’s my spiel.  I’m sure other things will come to mind and I’ll update this from time to time.  I also welcome observations from other auditors whether they agree with me or not.  Know that during the course of my stumbling career, I have made many of these mistakes myself, and it was only because some kind person took me in hand that I got past some of them.  I’m still an awful auditioner.

 

Be bold and good luck.

 

Fletcher

 

P.S. The people in the room really want you to be good.  We’ve got a lot on our collective minds during the course of that very long day.  Please don’t read anything into our dour faces.  And know that if you come in with a bright smile and a chipper attitude we will immediately light up and take notice.

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We’re approaching the Milwaukee Generals once again, so I’m reposting some of my thoughts about that process.  Do with it what you will.

Fletcher

Having sat through the Milwaukee Generals for the last several years, I’ve come across all sorts of things that auditioners do which sabotage the work at hand.  While many of these gaffes seem obvious to me, that may not be the case with the often unseasoned auditioner.  To be fair, how does one know unless they are told?  I understand just how hard and awful the process of auditioning is having been an actor for the last few decades.  To that end I’ve decided to share some of the dos and don’ts of auditioning.  I throw in the caveat that these are strictly from my own viewpoint and that while they deal with auditioning in general, they are specific to the peculiarities of myself and the Milwaukee Generals.

 

I’m dividing this “tutorial” into three parts: The Introduction, The Headshot and Resume, and The Audition.

 

The Introduction

 

If you have the chance (and that’s a big if) take a peek at the room you are going to walk into ahead of time.  Auditioning is an intimidating thing and walking into a room blind is hateful.  Find out where the auditors are going to be sitting and figure out where you are going to sit or stand.  Find out if there is a chair available and what kind it is.  Nothing worse then preparing a piece that requires you to spin a chair around and sit on it backwards only to find that the only chair available has arms.  And for those of you new to the Milwaukee Generals, you are walking into a room to face a group of auditors in a horseshoe configuration.

 

If you walk into the room and you find that there are auditors behind you, you’ve come in too far.  Back up so that we can see your face.

 

Take your time introducing yourself and your pieces.  Know that we are furiously passing your headshots around as quickly as we can, flipping them over and pouring over your resume, and then trying to catch what pieces you are going to do and in many cases trying to jot that information down.  We see a great many auditions during the course of the day and it’s extremely difficult to keep them straight.  Give us a chance to remember you.  I’ll never fault an auditioner for taking his time introducing his pieces.  When in doubt, wait until the majority of us have finished and are looking back up at you before you begin your first piece.

 

Don’t undress in the room.  This is a rather new phenomenon that has started happening lately.  When you walk into the room, be prepared to go.  I don’t want to see you come in, and then slowly take off a coat, scarf, shirt or any other thing as you are introducing yourself.  That’s weird and distracting.  Leave that stuff outside.

 

This is for both your intro and exit; don’t apologize for your audition.  Look, you only get one shot at this, so no matter how poorly you’ve prepared or think you’ve done during the audition, do it boldly and with a smile on your face.  I can’t tell you how many people come into the room with the attitude of, “Uh, hi.  I don’t really know why I’m here and I’m sorry to waste your time.”  Conversely I’ve seen a lot of people who have finished a perfectly fine audition and then ruin it by sheepishly excusing themselves on the way out.  Don’t do it!  It sucks all of the energy out of your audition.

 

Generally speaking, goofy introductions and/or exits will fall flat and have a good chance of being irritating.  I know it’s a defensive thing, but just don’t do it.  Come in, smile and introduce yourself.  When you are finished, say thank you.  Resist the urge to ask us if we have any questions or if there’s anything else we’d like to see.  Trust me; if we have those questions we won’t let you leave the room until we know the answers.

 

Give us the info we need.  It has become fashionable of late to name the play your audition is from, but not the part; or worse yet, not tell us anything at all.  This seems particularly true of Shakespeare.  Don’t make it a guessing game.  Conversely, don’t give us too much information.  In most cases I don’t need to know the author and I certainly don’t need to be told that Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.  And I absolutely don’t need to know the specific scene or get a recap of what’s been going on leading into this scene.  While we are on the subject of introducing your pieces, proceed to do your pieces in the order in which they were introduced.  Different auditors are there for different reasons.  Shakespeare companies have less interest in your modern/comic piece and are waiting for the Macbeth you are going to do.  If you say you are going to do your classical piece second, do so.  They may use that brief period of time to scan your resume and see what other classical pieces you have done and where.

 

The one thing most people come up short on is the intro.  I spend a whole day with my students having them do nothing but walking into a room and introducing themselves.  This is surprisingly difficult and few people spend any time on that part of their audition.  People actually stumble over their names, forget what pieces they are doing, mispronounce the playwright’s name (which is just one more reason that info is unnecessary), mumble their info in such a way that we don’t get it or turn their back and drag a chair across the room while making their intro.  Enter the room.  If you are going to use a chair make a decision; either get the chair, pick it up and set it where you want it and then introduce yourself, or introduce yourself and then get set.  Trust me; we will welcome the extra time to look at your resume.

 

Unless we stand up and stick our hands out, no need to come over and shake our hands.  We’re going to see about a hundred people that day.  There are also upwards of twenty people in that room and you won’t want to shake all of our hands.

 

The Headshot and Resume

 

Look like your headshot.  It’s bothersome when you don’t.  You’re a little heavier than you’d like to be?  So what.  Maybe we’re looking for just that heavy person.  It’s going to be very difficult to remember you later if you don’t look like your headshot.

 

Staple or glue your resume to your headshot.  I can’t tell you how irritating it is to get a loose resume.  Or one that is paper-clipped to the headshot actually covering the headshot.  That might just make me hate you right then and there.  And take the time to trim it to fit.  I file these away and those odd sized ones just might not make it into my filing cabinet.

 

While we’re on the subject of attaching your resume, don’t attach anything else.  I’m really happy you’re currently employed with your one-man show, but I don’t want a flyer or postcard attached advertising said show.

 

Leave whitespace on your resume.  We’re doing everything we can to remember the interesting things about you in case we should want to cast you.  If you jamb-pack your resume from margin to margin we have no room for such notes.  It also makes them hard to read and smacks of desperation.  “Look how much I’ve done!”  We don’t need to know everything you’ve done and if you have stuff on there from twenty years ago you might think about some judicial editing.

 

Use a decent sized font.  We’re at this all day and  in my case, my eyes get tired.  If you give me an 8 point font I’ll want to throw your resume in the discard pile then and there.  Also, weird or funny fonts piss me off.  It just adds an extra hurdle where I don’t need one.

 

There is a somewhat uniform way of setting up your resume.  Feel free to diverge, but just know that doing so will increase the likelihood that I won’t be able to find the info I’m looking for.  At the top should be your name and under that your vitals.  Height, weight, eye color, hair color, telephone and email address.  If you are a singer you may want to put your vocal range.  Do not give us your address.  In this day and age that simply isn’t safe and every now and then you send your resume to an unscrupulous person who turns around and sells your resume to other places.  Don’t include your age or tell us what your age range is.  That’s our job and why would you want to limit yourself that way?  Likewise, don’t include the dates of your productions.

 

Below your name and vitals should come the body of your resume which is your stage experience.  There are four things I want to know here: the theatre you worked at, the show you did, the part you played and who directed you.  Set them up in neat columns so that I can easily scan through them.  Don’t be afraid to list multiple shows with one theatre, that’s a good thing; that says that you worked at that theatre and they liked you enough to ask you back.  I am very leery of the auditionee that has 30 theatres listed and has only one show at each of them.

 

Below the stage experience section should be your education and special skills.  Still in high school?  It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you so don’t be ashamed of it.  Tell us where you went to school and who some of your teachers were (those names may open a conversation), but leave your GPA off.    I’m not really interested if you took a weekend class here or there.  Special skills should be special.  I don’t know how special having a driver’s license is.  Fire eating is more impressive (although at this last audition every other person had that listed) and I certainly want to know if you can speak a foreign language fluently.  I assume a good actor can learn dialects, so for me I don’t really care.

 

You may have a lot of film and/or TV credits; you may have a lot of directing credits.  I don’t care.  In this day and age you should be able to have several different resumes at your disposal.  If you are coming to the Milwaukee Generals, cater your resume to your clients, which are almost exclusively theatres.

 

Have enough resumes.  We don’t like sharing.

 

Don’t lie on your resume.  You will be busted and then you lose all credibility.  If you took a weekend class don’t make it sound like you received a degree.  If you took a beginning improv class don’t say you are part of the troope.  We know, we always know.

 

The Audition

 

So now we come to the heart of the matter.  First know that within the first ten or fifteen seconds we know if we like you or not.  Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds during the intro.  That’s just the way it goes.  Knowing that, limit the length of your pieces.  They really should be no longer than a minute a piece.  I spent one whole afternoon timing auditions.  I would look down at my watch when I started to lose interest and it was always between 55 and 65 seconds.  Even if you’re great, going beyond that is too much.  This past year many people were going over three minutes and that was just for one of their pieces.  Leave us wanting more.

 

Pick pieces that are superb.  Good is not good enough.  Good will be forgotten.  Knock our socks off!

 

In picking your pieces be very selective.  If you choose something offensive it is likely to offend and turn off at least a few people in the room.  Have a really good reason for picking a piece.

 

Don’t do stand up.  I’ve never seen it work and theatre is not stand up.  I’ve also never seen a piece that someone has written for himself work.

 

Contrast your pieces.  That doesn’t mean that one has to be modern comic and the other classical dramatic.  You can contrast two modern funny pieces and I will be quite delighted.  But standing during one and sitting during the other is not contrast.  Show us two different sides of yourself and hopefully those are different than your introduction.  Remember that your intro is a chance to show us a different side of yourself that will be contrasted by your two pieces.  Prove that you can act.

 

Don’t do serial killer monologues.  They are overdone and not usually all that interesting.

 

Don’t find a monologue in a monologue book.  They generally aren’t very good and they are overused.  Nothing like seeing the same bad monologue four times in the same day.  Read plays, lots of them, and find something that speaks to you.

 

People bend over backwards trying to find the obscure Shakespeare piece that no one has ever seen.  In doing so they generally pick something from one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays.  You know why they are lesser known?  Because they’re not as good.  You know what I’ve never seen?  Someone audition with “To be or not to be.”

 

Don’t try to memorize pieces the week of.  You should constantly be working on monologues and finding new pieces and the only way to do that is to constantly be searching for them.  Actors constantly seem surprised when an audition is coming up and they have no material prepared.

 

Don’t wear anything that is more disturbing or more interesting than you.  I’ll spend the whole audition wondering, “Why did he wear that?” instead of watching your audition.  Look nice, but make sure you are comfortable and can move around.

 

Your pieces should actually be scenes in which you are engaged in some kind of action as opposed to telling us a funny story.  I want to see your struggle, not you charming me with a funny anecdote.

 

Fell free to use me as your point of focus.  Not everyone is okay with that, but I generally am.  However, if you stand two feet in front of me and confront me, you’re going to lose me.  I’ll still stare straight at you and be the best audience I can, but I’m no longer really watching you.  I’m beginning to wonder if you’re crazy enough to jump the table, and others in the room are concentrating on the same thing.

 

After you are done with a piece do not say scene.  Worse yet, do not wave your hand in front of your face and say scene.

 

Do make your transitions clear and clean.  Do something, usually a physical move, to let us know one piece has ended and the next has begun.  Of course if they are highly contrastable pieces, that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

If you have an emotional piece and are able to go to that place, good for you.  If you end that piece and take a long time coming out of it and composing yourself, showing us just how hard that was, I will no longer love you.

 

If you get off to a bad start ask if you can start over.  We will always say yes.

 

No props.  We’ll see the letter in your hand if you are invested in your scene.  And never, ever, ever…NEVER! bring a gun into the room.  Especially not one loaded with a half-charge blank which you then hold to your head and pull the trigger.  Sigh.  It now needs to be said.

 

 

 

And that’s my spiel.  I’m sure other things will come to mind and I’ll update this from time to time.  I also welcome observations from other auditors whether they agree with me or not.  Know that during the course of my stumbling career I have made many of these mistakes myself, and it was only because some kind person took me in hand that I got past them.  Be bold and good luck.


It’s that time of year again when the Milwaukee Generals are on the horizon.  Here’s my spiel about them and auditioning:

Having sat through the Milwaukee Generals for the last several years, I’ve come across all sorts of things that auditioners do which sabotage the work at hand.  Some of these gaffes seem obvious and some less so, but to be fair, how could they know?  I understand just how hard and awful the process of auditioning is having been an actor for the last few decades.  To that end I’ve decided to share some of the dos and don’ts of auditioning.  I throw in the caveat that these are strictly from my own viewpoint and that while they deal with auditioning in general, they are specific to the peculiarities of myself and the Milwaukee Generals.

 

I’m dividing this “tutorial” into three parts: the Introduction, the Headshot and Resume and the Audition.

 

The Introduction

 

If you have the chance (and that’s a big if) take a peek at the room you are going to walk into ahead of time.  Auditioning is an intimidating thing and walking into a room blind is hateful.  Find out where the auditors are going to be sitting and figure out where you are going to sit or stand.  Find out if there is a chair available and what kind it is.  Nothing worse then preparing a piece that requires you to spin a chair around and sit on it backwards only to find that the only chair available has arms.  And for those of you new to the Milwaukee Generals, you are walking into a room to face a group of auditors in a horseshoe configuration.

 

If you walk into the room and you find that there are auditors behind you, you’ve come in too far.  Back up so that we can see your face.

 

Take your time introducing yourself and your pieces.  Know that we are furiously passing your headshots around as quickly as we can, flipping them over and pouring over your resume and then trying to catch what pieces you are going to do and in many cases trying to jot that info down.  We see a whole bunch of hundred auditions during the course of the day and it’s extremely difficult to keep them straight.  Give us a chance to remember you.  I’ll never fault an auditionee for taking his time introducing his pieces.  When in doubt, wait until the majority of us have finished and are looking back up at you before you begin your first piece.

 

Don’t undress in the room.  This is a rather new phenomenon that has started happening lately.  When you walk into the room, be prepared to go.  I don’t want to see you come in, and then slowly take off a coat, scarf, shirt or any other thing as you are introducing yourself.  That’s weird and distracting.  Leave that stuff outside.

 

This is for both your intro and exit; don’t apologize for your audition.  Look, you only get one shot at this, so no matter how poorly you’ve prepared or think you’ve done during the audition, do it boldly and with a smile on your face.  I can’t tell you how many people come into the room with the attitude of, “Uh, hi.  I don’t really know why I’m here and I’m sorry to waste your time.”  Conversely I’ve seen a lot of people who have finished a perfectly fine audition and then ruin it by sheepishly excusing themselves on the way out.  Don’t do it!  It sucks all of the energy out of your audition.

 

Generally speaking, goofy introductions and/or exits will fall flat and have a good chance of being irritating.  I know it’s a defensive thing, but just don’t do it.  Come in, smile and introduce yourself.  When you are finished, say thank you.  Resist the urge to ask us if we have any questions or if there’s anything else we’d like to see.  Trust me; if we have those questions we won’t let you leave the room until we know the answers.

 

Give us the info we need.  It has become fashionable of late to name the play your audition is from, but not the part; or worse yet, not tell us anything at all.  This seems particularly true of Shakespeare.  Don’t make it a guessing game.  Conversely, don’t give us too much information.  In most cases I don’t need to know the author and I certainly don’t need to be told that Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.  While we are on the subject of introducing your pieces, proceed to do your pieces in the order in which they were introduced.  Different auditors are there for different reasons.  Shakespeare companies have less interest in your modern/comic piece and are waiting for the Macbeth you are going to do.  If you say you are going to do your classical piece second, do so.  They may use that brief period of time to scan your resume and see what other classical pieces you have done and where.

 

The one thing most people come up short on is the intro.  I spend a whole day with my students having them do nothing but walking into a room and introducing themselves.  This is surprisingly difficult and few people spend any time on that part of their audition.  People actually stumble over their names, forget what pieces they are doing, mispronounce the playwright’s name (which is just one more reason that info is unnecessary), mumble their info in such a way that we don’t get it or turn their back and drag a chair across the room while making their intro.  Enter the room.  If you are going to use a chair make a decision; either get the chair, pick it up and set it where you want and then introduce yourself, or introduce yourself and then get set.  Trust me; we will welcome the extra time to look at your resume.

 

Unless we stand up and stick our hands out, no need to come over and shake our hands.  We’re going to see about a hundred people that day.  There are also upwards of twenty people in that room and you won’t want to shake all of our hands.

 

The Headshot and Resume

 

Look like your headshot.  It’s bothersome when you don’t.  You’re a little heavier than you’d like to be?  So what.  Maybe we’re looking for just that heavy person.  It’s going to be very difficult to remember you later if you don’t look like your headshot.

 

Staple or glue your resume to your headshot.  I can’t tell you how irritating it is to get a loose resume.  Or one that is paper-clipped to the headshot actually covering the headshot.  That might just make me hate you right then and there.  And take the time to trim it to fit.  I file these away and those odd sized ones just might not make it into my filing cabinet.

 

While we’re on the subject of attaching your resume, don’t attach anything else.  I’m really happy you’re currently employed with your one-man show, but I don’t want a flyer or postcard attached advertising said show.

 

Leave whitespace on your resume.  We’re doing everything we can to remember the interesting things about you in case we should want to cast you.  If you jamb-pack your resume from margin to margin we have no room for such notes.  It also makes them hard to read and smacks of desperation.  “Look how much I’ve done!”  We don’t need to know everything you’ve done and if you have stuff on there from twenty years ago you might think about some judicial editing.

 

Use a decent sized font.  We’re at this all day and my eyes get tired.  If you give me an 8 point font I’ll want to throw your resume in the discard pile then and there.  Also, weird or funny fonts piss me off.  It just adds an extra hurdle where I don’t need one.

 

There is a somewhat uniform way of setting up your resume.  Feel free to diverge, but just know that doing so will increase the likelihood that I won’t be able to find the info I’m looking for.  At the top should be your name and under that your vitals.  Height, weight, eye color, hair color, telephone and email address.  If you are a singer you may want to put your vocal range.  Do not give us your address.  In this day and age that simply isn’t safe and every now and then you send your resume to an unscrupulous person who turns around and sells your resume to other places.  Don’t include your age or tell us what your age range is.  That’s our job and why would you want to limit yourself that way?  Likewise, don’t include the dates of your productions.

 

Below your name and vitals should come the body of your resume which is your stage experience.  There are four things I want to know here: the theatre you worked at, the show you did, the part you played and who directed you.  Set them up in neat columns so that I can easily scan through them.  Don’t be afraid to list multiple shows with one theatre, that’s a good thing; that says that you worked at that theatre and they liked you enough to ask you back.  I am very leery of the auditionee that has 30 theatres listed and has only one show at each of them.

 

Below the stage experience section should be your education and special skills.  Still in high school?  It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you so don’t be ashamed of it.  Tell us where you went to school and who some of your teachers were, but leave your GPA off.  Those names may open up a conversation.  I’m not really interested if you took a weekend class here or there.  Special skills should be special.  I don’t know how special having a driver’s license is.  Fire eating is more impressive (although at this last audition every other person had that listed) and I certainly want to know if you can speak a foreign language fluently.  I assume a good actor can learn dialects, so for me I don’t really care.

 

You may have a lot of film and/or TV credits; you may have a lot of directing credits.  I don’t care.  In this day and age you should be able to have several different resumes at your disposal.  If you are coming to the Milwaukee Generals cater your resume to your clients, which are almost exclusively theatres.

 

Have enough resumes.  We don’t like sharing.

 

Don’t lie on your resume.  You will be busted and then you’ve lost all credibility.  If you took a weekend class don’t make it sound like you received a degree.  If you took a beginning improv class don’t say you are part of the troope.  We know, we always know.

 

The Audition

 

So now we come to the heart of the matter.  First know that within the first ten or fifteen seconds we know if we like you or not.  Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds during the intro.  That’s just the way it goes.  Knowing that, limit the length of your pieces.  They really should be no longer than a minute a piece.  I spent one whole afternoon timing auditions.  I would look down at my watch when I started to lose interest and it was always between 55 and 65 seconds.  Even if you’re great, going beyond that is too much.  This past year many people were going over three minutes and that was just for one of their pieces.  Leave us wanting more.

 

In picking your pieces be very selective.  If you choose something offensive it is likely to offend and turn off at least a few people in the room.  Have a really good reason for picking a piece.

 

Don’t do stand up.  I’ve never seen it work and theatre is not stand up.  I’ve also never seen a piece that someone has written for himself work.

 

Contrast your pieces.  That doesn’t mean that one has to be modern comic and the other classical dramatic.  You can contrast two modern funny pieces and I will be quite delighted.  But standing during one and sitting during the other is not contrast.  Show us two different sides of yourself and hopefully those are different than your introduction.  Remember that your intro is a chance to show us a different side of yourself that will be contrasted by your two pieces.  Prove that you can act.

 

Don’t do serial killer monologues.  They are overdone and not usually all that interesting.

 

Don’t find a monologue in a monologue book.  They generally aren’t very good and they are overused.  Nothing like seeing the same bad monologue four times in the same day.  Read plays, lots of them, and find something that speaks to you.

 

People bend over backwards trying to find the obscure Shakespeare piece that no one has ever seen.  In doing so they generally pick something from one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays.  You know why they are lesser known?  Because they’re not as good.  You know what I’ve never seen?  Someone audition with “To be or not to be.”

 

Don’t wear anything that is more disturbing or more interesting than you.  I’ll spend the whole audition wondering, “Why did he wear that?” instead of watching your audition.  Look nice, but make sure you are comfortable and can move around.

 

Your pieces should actually be scenes in which you are engaged in some kind of action as opposed to telling us a funny story.  I want to see your struggle, not your charming me with a funny anecdote.

 

Fell free to use me as your point of focus.  Not everyone is okay with that, but I generally am.  However, if you stand two feet in front of me and confront me, you’re going to lose me.  I’ll still stare straight at you and be the best audience I can, but I’m no longer really watching you.  I’m beginning to wonder if you’re crazy enough to jump the table and others in the room are concentrating on the same thing.

 

After you are done with a piece do not say scene.  Worse yet, do not wave your hand in front of your face and say scene.

 

Do make your transitions clear and clean.  Do something, usually a physical move, to let us know one piece has ended and the next has begun.  Of course if they are highly contrastable pieces, that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

If you have an emotional piece and are able to go to that place, good for you.  If you end that piece and take a long time coming out of it and composing yourself, showing us just how hard that was, I will no longer love you.

 

If you get off to a bad start ask if you can start over.  We will always say yes.

 

No props.  We’ll see the letter in your hand if you are invested in your scene.  And never, ever, ever…NEVER! bring a gun into the room.  Especially not one loaded with a half-charge blank which you then hold to your head and pull the trigger.  Sigh.  It now needs to be said.

 

 

 

And that’s my spiel.  I’m sure other things will come to mind and I’ll update this from time to time.  I also welcome observations from other auditors whether they agree with me or not.  Know that during the course of my stumbling career I have made many of these mistakes myself, and it was only because some kind person took me in hand that I got past them.  Be bold and good luck.

Fletcher


The Bottom of Your Resume 

This is where most people put their Education and Training and their Special Skills.  Lets deal with Special Skills first: 

Special Skills 

Special Skills should be…well, special.  Now look, I don’t think many people are going to win or lose jobs by what they put in this section, but sometimes we’re looking for a unique talent.  This section is also more likely to help you in a one-on-one audition where the auditor might have a little more time to spend with you than in a large group audition.  

That having been said, putting quite ordinary things here makes me question your sense.  Let’s take a look at actual skills listed on people’s resumes: 

Dancing (various):

Now I’ll get to dialects a little later, but I think with dancing you should be very specific about what types and how long you’ve trained.  Listing your teachers here is also a good idea.  And while this is a special skill, it might be more appropriate to list this under Education and Training. 

Special Skills: Running, Quick Study

Running?  How does this help you on the stage unless you’re doing it the entire play.

Quick Study?  I hope so, but unless there’s a bunch of people putting “Slow Study” on their resumes, I’m not sure how it distinguishes you.

Driving Stickshift or Valid Driver’s License:

This may be helpful in Film work, but I’m not sure how it applies to theatre.

Stage Combat:

Just Stage Combat?  Not who taught you or what kind of Stage Combat you’ve had?  Did you throw a pie once?  Get hit by a spit take?  Get hit by a pillow?  I don’t know what this means and the fact that you didn’t go into more detail leads me to believe that you’ve had no real training.  This also might be better listed under Education and Training. 

Flexibility:

Um, okay.

Very Basic Juggling:

Well then it’s not really a Special Skill, is it?  Every actor I know can juggle.  Unless you’re great and can juggle a knife, a bowling bowl and a shark at the same time, I’m not impressed.  Actually, if you can do that call me immediately.

Craft Services:

This would be interesting if I was looking at you for a commercial gig, but then I wouldn’t be auditioning you as an actor.

Computer Literate:

This is not an IT position.

Motorcycle Repair:

What do I do with that?

Lighting Design:

Great, but I’m looking for actors.  Apply for a tech position at the appropriate time.

Can work without glasses:

I certainly hope so, but this person auditioned without glasses.  Now I’m wondering if it was a lucky fluke that he didn’t bump into something. 

Fashion Sensibilities:

Ah, hah, hah!

Comedic Training:

What? 

Water Skiing:

Being a water skier myself, I know just how unlikely this is to help you on stage.

And again, some of these things might be useful for a film audition, but then save them for that resume.

So what should go in this section?  I’ll try to list the things that I find useful or at the very least interesting.  And some that just make me smile.

Dance Training:

As I said this is a perfect thing to list here, but again, be specific.  What type of dance, where you took it and how many years you trained.  If you’ve trained all over the place no need to go into every class you ever took, just give us a representative idea.

Dialects:

I assume that any actor worth his salt can handle dialects.  Where we get into trouble here is when people make a long list of the dialects they’re proficient at.  Here’s one example:

Dialects- Irish, English (North Country, Upper Class), American (Standard, Southern, NY, Boston), Spanish, Arabic (Israeli, Palestinian, Persian).

It’s not that I doubt this person, but she might have better served by writing Dialects on request, or proficient in Dialects. 

Do you play an instrument?  Many instruments?  Do let us know. 

Are you fluent in a foreign language?  That might get you a job right there.  Sign language is also a useful skill to list.

Certified Actor Combatant:

Yup, let us know that and what you’re certified in: Unarmed, Quarterstaff, Broadsword, Rapier and Dagger.  Taking a weekend course or being involved in a single play hardly qualifies here.  Be honest about your skill level.  Also, if you’ve been the Fight Captain for a play, let us know.  It might not get you extra work, but if you’re cast it might get you a little extra pay.

Martial arts Training:

Always good to know.

Here is a list of things that I find interesting in a good way.  If the right part requires one of these skills, listing it might just get you the job:

Professional Circus Clown

Fire Breathing

Fire Juggling (bonus if it’s with fire sharks)

Unicycling

Bullwhip Cracking

Trick Roping

Aerial Circus Arts (trapeze, lyra, cradle, cloud swing)

And finally, here’s a list of things that really don’t have much to do with anything, but make me giggle and just might open up a conversation which allows you to reveal some personality and make a connection with the auditor:

Dolphin Sounds

Baby Crying

Happy Baby Sounds

Barking

Christopher Walken Impression (everyone loves a good Christopher Walken)

Excellent Whistler

Can walk and Dance conjoined to another

Chewbacca Impression

And the single best special skill I’ve ever seen listed; Mock.  You’ll have to get John Maclay to tell you about that.

Now if you list one of these things as a special skill, you’d best be able to produce.  Don’t put down Walken unless you can nail him. 

Next up; Education and Training.

Fletcher


Let me start this off by saying that these are my thoughts and observations.  I welcome anyone else chiming in.

So let’s look at fictional actor, Chris Fettle.  Chris is just starting out in his career, so it’s no surprise that there’s not much on his resume just yet.

Chris Fettle Resume 1

Nothing much wrong here, but there could be improvement.  I don’t care that he doesn’t have much on his resume, he’s young, but I do care that he’s not put down his directors.  And get rid of Actor.  We’ll just assume that.  We’ll see how Chris advances.

Here he is several years later and he has done a nice job in that I’ve got his name and he’s laid his theatre experience out cleanly.  I don’t think it’s a terribly good idea to put your address on there.  Once these resumes leave your hand you don’t know what’s going to become of them.  The most unscrupulous type of auditors (and I’ve never known this to be the case in Milwaukee) sell your information.  Don’t give them the ability to do so.  We’ve got the vitals, which is good, but it could be done in a more appealing manner.  

On to the shows themselves.  Nice mix of shows.  There are a few classical plays on there and a couple of musicals.  He’s also worked at most of these places more than once which presupposes that they liked him enough to hire him back.  He’s got his college credits on there, which is just fine.  Assuming he advances his way in the field, he’ll eventually start working those out of the rotation. 

The big thing I’m missing here are the Directors.  Who directed these shows?  That’s important information and must be included on the resume. 

Chris Fettle 2

So let’s clean up Chris’ resume.

Chris Fettle 3

We’ve got rid of the address, the resume’s a little cleaner, and I’ve got the information I need.  Assuming I’m interested and I know a few of these people he’s worked with, I’m going to start making some calls.  So make sure you’ve actually worked at the theatres on your resume and make sure you’ve actually played the parts as opposed to simply understudying them.  If you lie on your resume and are found out, the word will spread rapidly and your career will become a tougher one.  Just don’t do it. 

This wass Chris early in his professional career.  Let’s examine the possibility of where Chris might end up a few years from now.

Chris Fettle 4

Ack!  These are the resumes that absolutely drive me nutty.  What’s happened to our little hero?  Methinks things haven’t turned out so well.  In an effort to make himself seem really successful he’s bound and determined to fill every inch of space on his resume.  To do so, he’s decreased the size of his font making it even less likely I’ll be able to find the info I’m seeking.  He’s also left me no room to take notes.  What I can tell is that he’s only working at theatres and with directors once.  This leads me to believe that while he may be a good or voracious auditioner, things don’t work out so well in the actual productions. 

Actor?  Really?  Again?  He cleaned this up for a bit, but now he’s back.  Let’s just assume I know you’re an actor.  Why else would you be here?

It may be helpful to others, but I’m only looking at you for theatre experience, I don’t care about your film credits especially if I’ve never heard of them and you’re playing extras.  That doesn’t tell me a thing.

Don’t tell me your age range.  Why would you do such a thing?  Let me decide what age range you can play.  All you’ve done is limited yourself and made the inference that I’m too stupid to figure it out for myself.

This is just me, but I don’t care if you’ve won an award.  What good does that do me?  It’s unlikely that I’ve seen the show in question and putting it on your resume smacks of…something. 

So to sum up, I’m looking for clean, clear resumes; ones in which I can find the information I need quickly.  Is this the only format that works?  Of course not, but ninety percent of the resumes I receive are formatted this way, so altering that makes it more likely that I won’t be able to find the info I want in the limited amount of time I get to spend with you. 

I want your name, contact info and vitals on the top of the resume.  Beneath that I want your theatrical experience.  That experience should contain four pieces of information: the name of the play, the part you played, the director and the name of the producing theatre.  A fair number of people will switch the theatre and the director putting the director in the last column.  Doesn’t matter much. 

Film credits and commercial work?  I don’t care.  In this day and age you should have a different resume for every situation.  Going on a commercial audition?  Use the resume which features that work on top.  Have an agent?  That’s great, but I want your contact information, not your agent’s.  Again, save that for the commercial auditions. 

Beneath that comes special skills and education, but I’ll get to that in the next posting.

Fletcher


Having sat through the Milwaukee Generals for the last several years, I’ve come across all sorts of things that auditionees do which sabotage the work at hand.  I’m continually amazed by some of these gaffs, but to be fair, how could they know?  I understand just how hard and awful the process of auditioning is having been an actor for the last 28 years.  To that end I’ve decided to share some of the do’s and don’ts of auditioning.  I throw in the caveat that these are strictly from my own viewpoint and that while they deal with auditioning in general, they are specific to the peculiarities of myself and the Milwaukee Generals. 

To that end, I’m dividing this “tutorial” into three parts: the Introduction, the Headshot and Resume and the Audition. 

The Introduction 

If you have the chance (and that’s a big if) take a peek at the room you are going to walk into ahead of time.  Auditioning is an intimidating thing and walking into a room blind is hateful.  Find out where the auditors are going to be sitting and figure out where you are going to sit or stand.  Find out if there is a chair available and what kind it is.  Nothing worse then preparing a piece that requires you to spin a chair around and sit on it backwards only to find that the chair available has arms.

If you walk into the room and you find that there are auditors behind you, you’ve come in too far.  Back up so that we can actually see your face. 

Take your time introducing yourself and your pieces.  Know that we are furiously passing your headshots around as quickly as we can, flipping them over and pouring over your resume and then trying to catch what pieces you are going to do and in many cases trying to jot that info down.  We see a couple of hundred auditions over those couple of days and it’s extremely difficult to keep them straight.  Give us a chance to remember you.  I’ll never fault an auditionee for taking his time introducing his pieces.  When in doubt, wait until the majority of us have finished and are looking back up at you before you begin your first piece. 

Don’t undress in the room.  This is a rather new phenomenon that has started happening lately.  When you walk into the room, be prepared to go.  I don’t want to see you come in, and then slowly take off a coat, scarf, shirt or any other thing as you are introducing yourself.  That’s weird and distracting.  Leave that stuff outside.

This is for both your intro and exit; don’t apologize for your audition.  Look, you only get one shot at this, so no matter how poorly you’ve prepared or think you’ve done during the audition, do it boldly and with a smile on your face.  I can’t tell you how many people come into the room with the attitude of, “Uh, hi.  I don’t really know why I’m here and I’m sorry to waste your time.”  Conversely I’ve seen a lot of people who have finished a perfectly fine audition and then ruin it by sheepishly excusing themselves on the way out.  Don’t do it!  It sucks all of the energy out of your audition.

Generally speaking, goofy introductions and/or exits will fall flat and have a good chance of irritating us.  I know it’s a defensive thing, but just don’t do it.  Come in, smile and introduce yourself.  When you are finished, say thank you.  Don’t ask us if we have any questions or if there’s anything else we’d like to see.  Trust me; if we have those questions we won’t let you leave the room until we know the answers. 

Give us the info we need.  It has become fashionable of late to name the play your audition is from, but not the part; or worse yet, not tell us anything at all.  This seems particularly true of Shakespeare.  Don’t make it a guessing game for us.  Conversely, don’t give us too much information.  In most cases I don’t need to know the author and I certainly don’t need to be told that Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.  While we are on the subject of introducing your pieces, proceed to do your pieces in the order in which they were introduced.  Different auditors are there for different reasons.  Shakespeare companies have less interest in your modern/comic piece and are waiting for the Macbeth you are going to do.  If you say you are going to do your classical piece second, do so.  They may use that brief period of time to scan your resume and see what other classical pieces you have done and where. 

The one thing most people come up short on is the intro.  I spend a whole day with my students having them do nothing but walking into a room and introducing themselves.  Surprisingly difficult and few people spend any time on that part of their audition.  People actually stumble over their names, forget what pieces they are doing, mispronounce the playwright’s name (which is just one more reason that info is unnecessary), mumble their info in such a way that we don’t get it or turn their back and drag a chair across the room while making their intro.  Enter the room.  If you are going to use a chair make a decision; either get the chair, pick it up and set it where you want and then introduce yourself, or introduce yourself and then get set.  Trust me; we will welcome the extra time to look at your resume. 

Unless we stand up and stick our hands out, no need to come over and shake our hands.  We’re going to see about a hundred people each day.

 The Headshot and Resume 

Look like your headshot.  It irritates us when you don’t.  You’re a little heavier than you’d like to be?  So what.  Maybe we’re looking for just that heavy person.  It’s going to be very difficult to remember you later if you don’t look like your headshot. 

Staple or glue your resume to your headshot.  I can’t tell you how irritating it is to get a loose resume.  Makes me hate you right then and there.  And take the time to trim it to fit.  I for one file these away and those odd sized ones just might not make it into my filing cabinet. 

While we’re on the subject of attaching your resume, don’t attach anything else.  I’m really happy you’re currently employed with your one-man show, but I don’t want a flyer or postcard attached advertising said show. 

Leave whitespace on your resume.  We’re doing everything we can to remember the interesting things about you in case we should want to cast you.  If you jamb-pack your resume from margin to margin we have no room for such notes.  It also makes them hard to read and smacks of desperation.  “Look how much I’ve done!”  We don’t need to know everything you’ve done and if you have stuff on there from twenty years ago you might think about some judicial editing.

 Use a decent sized font.  We’re at this all day and my eyes get tired.  If you give me an 8 point font I’ll want to throw your resume in the discard pile then and there.  Also, weird or funny fonts piss me off.  It just adds an extra hurdle where I don’t need one. 

There is a somewhat uniform way of setting up your resume.  Feel free to diverge, but just know that doing so will increase the likelihood that I won’t be able to find the info I’m looking for.  At the top should be your name and under that your vitals.  Height, weight, eye color, hair color, telephone and email address.  If you are a singer you may want to put your vocal range.  Do not give us your address.  In this day and age that simply isn’t safe and every now and then you send your resume to an unscrupulous person who turns around and sells your resume to other places.  Don’t include your age or tell us what your age range is.  That’s our job and why would you want to limit yourself that way?  Likewise, don’t include the dates of your productions.  

Below your name and vitals should come the body of your resume which is your stage experience.  There are four things I want to know here: the theatre you worked at, the show you did, the part you played and who directed you.  Set them up in neat columns so that I can easily scan through them.  Don’t be afraid to list multiple shows with one theatre, that’s a good thing.  That says that you worked at that theatre and they liked you enough to ask you back.  I am very leery of the auditionee that has 30 theatres listed and has only one show at each of them. 

Below the stage experience section should be your education and special skills.  Still in high school?  It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you so don’t be ashamed of it.  Tell us where you went to school and who some of your teachers were, but leave your GPA off.  Those names may open up a conversation.  I’m not really interested if you took a weekend class here.  Special skills should be special.  I don’t know how special having a driver’s license is.  Fire eating is more impressive (although at this last audition every other person had that listed) and I certainly want to know if you can speak a foreign language fluently.  I assume a good actor can learn dialects, so for me I don’t really care. 

You may have a lot of film and/or TV credits; you may have a lot of directing credits.  I don’t care.  In this day and age you should be able to have several different resumes at your disposal.  If you are coming to the Milwaukee Generals cater your resume to your clients. 

Have enough resumes.  We don’t like sharing. 

Don’t lie on your resume.  You will be busted and then you’ve lost all credibility.  If you took a weekend class don’t make it sound like you received a degree.  If you took a beginning improve class don’t say you are part of the troope.  We know, we always know. 

The Audition

So now we come to the heart of the matter.  First know that within the first ten or fifteen seconds we know if we like you or not.  Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds during the intro.  That’s just the way it goes.  Knowing that, limit the length of your pieces.  They really should be no longer than a minute a piece.  I spent one whole afternoon timing auditions.  I would look down at my watch when I started to lose interest and it was always between 55 and 65 seconds.  Even if you’re great, going beyond that is too much.  This past year many people were going over three minutes and that was just for one of their pieces.  Leave us wanting more. 

In picking your pieces be very selective.  If you choose something offensive it is likely to offend and turn off at least a few people in the room.  Have a really good reason for picking a piece. 

Don’t do stand up.  I’ve never seen it work and theatre is not stand up.  I’ve also never seen a piece that someone has written for himself work. 

Contrast your pieces.  That doesn’t mean that one has to be modern comic and the other classical dramatic.  You can contrast two modern funny pieces and I will be quite delighted.  But standing during one and sitting during the other is not contrast.  Show us two different sides of yourself and hopefully those are different than your introduction.  Prove that you can act. 

Don’t do serial killer monologues.  They are overdone and not usually all that interesting. 

Don’t find a monologue in monologue book.  They generally aren’t very good and they are overused.  Nothing like seeing the same bad monologue four times in the same day.  Read plays, lots of them, and find something that speaks to you. 

People bend over backwards trying to find the obscure Shakespeare piece that no one has ever seen.  In doing so they generally go to some of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays.  You know why they are lesser known?  Because they’re not as good.  You know what I’ve never seen?  Someone audition with “To be or not to be.” 

Don’t wear anything that is more disturbing or more interesting than you.  I’ll spend the whole audition wondering, “Why did he wear that?” instead of watching your audition.  Look nice, but make sure you are comfortable and can move around. 

Your pieces should actually be scenes in which you are engaged in some kind of action as opposed to telling us a funny story.  I want to see your struggle, not you charming me with a funny anecdote. 

Fell free to use me as your point of focus.  Not everyone is okay with that, but I generally am.  However, if you stand two feet in front of me and confront me, you’re going to lose me.  I’ll still stare straight at you and be the best audience I can, but I’m no longer really watching you.  I’m beginning to wonder if you’re crazy enough to jump the table and others in the room are concentrating on the same thing. 

After you are done with a piece do not say scene.  Worse yet, do not wave your hand in front of your face and say scene. 

Do make your transitions clear and clean.  Do something, usually a physical move to let us know one piece has ended and the next has begun.  Of course if they are highly contrastable that shouldn’t be a problem. 

If you have an emotional piece and are able to go to that place, good for you.  If you end that piece and take a long time coming out of it and composing yourself, showing us just how hard that was, I will no longer love you. 

If you get off to a bad start ask if you can start over.  We will always say yes. 

No props.  We’ll see the letter in your hand if you are invested in your scene.  And never, ever, ever…NEVER! bring a gun into the room.  Especially not one loaded with a half-charge blank which you then hold to your head and pull the trigger.  Sigh.  It now needs to be said.

And that’s my spiel.  I’m sure other things will come to mind and I’ll update this from time to time.  I also welcome observations from other auditors whether they agree with me or not.  Know that during the course of my stumbling career I have made many of these mistakes myself, and it was only because some kind person took me in hand that I got past them.  Be bold and good luck.

-James Fletcher