Your agent just sent you an audition for an exciting new project. You’ve been called back to read for a role. You’ve been pencilled for a commercial. And here comes our old friend audition anxiety.
First things first, being stressed or anxious at auditions is absolutely fine! In fact, not being scared at all could be a sign that you don’t care enough. The bottom line is: audition anxiety is OKAY. Now, there are ways to better cope with it and, maybe, help you land the roles you deserve.
In my personal experience, I’ve found two distinct ways to approach auditions so they don’t become a trigger for anxiety: what can I do? vs. what can’t I do? Let’s expand on these shall we?
Audition Anxiety: What CAN’T I control?
I find that not feeling in control is a major cause of audition anxiety. Now, if your audition is ‘in the room’ rather than self taped, the list of things you can’t control will be quite extensive. Things like what the weather will be like, traffic, where the audition is held and so on are completely beyond your control.
The same applies to who the panel is: What was their day like? Do they already have someone else in mind for the role? Do they all get along? Is this project particularly stressful for them?
Basically, anything that isn’t your own interpretation of the material you have to audition with is out of your control. I know that thought can be very stressful, but it can also be liberating! If you can’t control it, it means you do not need to feel anxious about it. There is simply nothing you can do to alter any of these factors, so best focus on preparing for your audition instead!
Making this simple but key mindset switch will be a life-saver when it comes to coping with audition anxiety. So often as human beings we worry about things we have just no power over. We tend to focus our energy on aspects of life that are beyond our immediate control and, as a result, take our time away from the few things we can actually change.
Audition Anxiety Pro Tip: WRITE . IT . DOWN
When you prepare for your next audition, here’s a little pro tip to help you cope with anxiety. Write down a list of anything you think could cause you stress regarding the audition. Write it all down, even the silliest of possible scenarios. Like, say, an alien spaceship landing on the street next to the audition and abducting you. Just put it on paper.
Now grab a different coloured pen or highlighter and circle everything on that list that you would be unable to change. The list is much shorter now isn’t it?
Audition Anxiety: What CAN I control?
Now that the uncontrollable is out of the way, let’s focus on what you can and should pay attention to in order to cope with audition anxiety.
A trusted technique many professionals use is ‘playing out’ the audition day in your mind before it happens. Here’s how it goes:
Say you saw in the News that it was going to be rainy, then you make sure you’ve got rain clothes ready. No one likes being rained on before an audition, what a nightmare!
Now let’s say you’ve got a special lucky outfit you like to wear, then you make sure that it’s washed, ironed and laid out for you the night before.
Same goes for waking up extra early so you can have time to get ready. Leaving plenty of time for your commute in case there’s traffic.
Having extra hard copies of your scene or monologue.
“Just in case” is my motto here.
After you’ve made sure you’ve addressed every contingency, the only thing you really have to ‘worry’ about is the actual audition. And you’re a performer, that’s your forte! The best advice I’ve received as an actor is prep, prep, prep, but don’t over prep. You’ve learned your lines. have run them with someone else or by yourself. You’ve done some character analysis and chosen what you’ll do with it. And you’ve rehearsed any extra bits like accents, character traits or special walks. Now what’s next? Let. It. Rest.
Over prepping and obsessing over something you’ve rehearsed a million times will only make you anxious. It often happens, at this point, that actors start second guessing themselves and being overly self critical. Needless to say that this can quickly turn into a habit. Audition anxiety is normal, but we do need to keep it in check so we don’t find ourselves lacking healthy confidence and self esteem.
All in All
The key here is: the audition is part of the job. Once you start viewing the audition process as a part of your job and not just a ‘job interview’, you’ll start to value yourself more. The time and effort actors dedicate to auditions is a crucial part of every artistic project. So as much as you might feel ‘out of place’ in an audition, you’re really not. YOU are the reason they are there.
And lastly, it’s important to remember this: Everyone in the audition room wants you to do well. This goes for the Casting Directors and the Filmmakers as well as yourself. No one wants to sit in an audition panel and watch someone else fail.
So next time you go into an audition, try to let that positivity sink in. Let it reach you beyond the layers of stress you’ll likely be feeling. And revel in the thought that whoever is watching you perform will not only want you to do a great job, but also deserves to watch the artistry you’ll show them. And that is why we do what we do in the first place, isn’t it?
Break a leg!