Q: 1: Walking into an audition already in character. Is that something you recommend? 2. I auditioned for the role of a “cold eye stranger” though my monologue was a piece from the “Girl on the Via Flaminia,” to show vulnerability and see what’s maybe beyond the cold eyes, since the details were limited on this role, should I have just stuck to a “cold eye monologue”?
Gabriel is a new actor and has just started his professional course. His question is a two-parter on auditioning. Let’s go!
First of all, auditioning is challenging. Anyone that doesn’t admit that isn’t being honest. You are generally acting a piece of material out of context, and you are aware you have a job on the line. However, there are ways to hone your perspective that can really help to make it a positive experience for everyone involved, and I want to offer those before answering the great questions you provided.
First of all, it’s a chance to act, which is what you love. So, look at it as such. You get to go in, live in character, and be in the world of the story that you’ve created. You are a working actor in those moments, and you can embrace that. The people in the casting room want you to be terrific. So, you’re in a room where everyone is supporting your creative process. Feel the love in that, and then do your work, that’s what it’s about. Prepare, be off book, make specific and personal choices, and go for it. That’s where the actor’s concentration should be- not on the people in the room- but on the love of the story you’re telling.
As for your first question, the answer is yes, in a way. The whole point of auditioning is so the people casting believe you are the character. And this comes if YOU believe you are the character. So whatever prep you do to drop you into your character, have that plugged in. Then, your character also has a personality (see my blog on DUALITY). You have and inner life, and you have an outward personality. Just like a real human being, because that’s what your character is. So, you’ve created the inner life: what drives your character emotionally and psychologically, and what he’s trying to do and get from the other person in the scene. And you create his behavior: he talks, walks, expresses himself, dresses a certain way, and behaves. (See top of page 23 of “The Actor Prepares,” and answer each of the questions for every character you play, and you’ll begin to get properly connected.
It’s good to live the character, once you’ve prepared it. Stay in. Brush your teeth in character, eat your breakfast in character, drive the car or ride the bus, walk around. Get it in your body. If the character is super extreme, like is in a rage or something, you don’t walk in that way, no. You are a professional who will be working with other professionals. But you’ve plugged in all the necessary parts that you can go right into the work once you hit your mark. If it’s theatre, it’s easier to just live in character until you hit the stage, because they’re less inclined to have a conversation with you before you start. Sometimes in film and TV casting rooms, there’s be a tiny chat beforehand or an explanation of who the reader is or where the camera is. In that case, you maintain your connection as much as you can, and drop fully in once it’s time to film.
When working, I like staying in character as much as possible, because I feel it makes these transitions most seamless. But that can mean simply fanning the flames of your inner life, or it can mean staying fully in the personality. This can be a case by case basis, and you will know what’s possible and best once you’re on set. But the more you can stay in, the more fluid the transition into “curtain up” or “action!” will be.
As for your choice of using “The Girl on the Via Flaminia” for the role of a “cold eyed stranger,” it’s great. I expect you picked that monologue because you prepared it well and love it and do it well. And guess what? To LISA you are a ‘cold eyed stranger’! So, it is possible to turn that color in yourself up, if you know that is what the character you are auditioning for requires, and still stay very true to the piece you’re in.
Thanks for these questions. Keep the flames of passion for your work alive, embrace that an artist’s life is process, stay in process and in gratitude, and one day you will be exactly right for the project you are auditioning for.
Please send your specific questions about the art of acting to firstname.lastname@example.org and Kymberly will respond to a different question each week! There are no invalid questions, as long as they pertain to your craft and life as an actor.
Kymberly Harris is an actor’s director. She specializes in character-driven stories, whether the genre is drama, comedy, thriller, or action. Her extensive experience as a method acting coach to professional actors of all ages has led actors to seek her out to direct them towards their best performances in film, television, and theatre projects.