May 24, 2023–Have you ever auditioned? No?

Technically, I’ve never auditioned for a part in a production.

My theater experience has always resulted from the “we need a warm body on stage to stand here” and my tepid torso has been within reach.

But, really, we all audition, all the time.

I’m reading “How To Audition”–part of my predilection to read dusty paperbacks from library cutout bins covering random topics–and something about the process jumped out as applicable to non-theater-based arenas.

1) First impressions happen fast

Every one of the directors–EVERY ONE of them–admitted they made their decision about the auditioner within the first minute. Sometimes within the first 10 seconds.

They sensed immediately

– the level of talent

– the confidence/experience of the person

– the fit for the role

I know it’s a truism about making first impressions, but these professional directors do it as part of their livelihood. Keep that in mind at your next mixer, cocktail party, or speed-dating dinner. By the end of 60 seconds, that person you are chatting up has already decided which way to swipe.

2) You are always auditioning

The auditioners begin judging you the minute you enter the space. They notice how you walk, where you look, what you do with your coat. Even when you are waiting your turn.

Are you rude? Do you listen to directions? Are you paying attention? Do you treat people of all stations with respect?

They want someone they can work with, both on and off stage.

3) An audition is a conversation

Think of it as salesmanship.

My dad was a salesman. Whether he sold real estate, TVs, or appaloosas, I noticed he never seemed to be selling. He just visited with clients.

I absorbed his technique. When I approached a possible client, I learned to listen, first. As he told me would happen, they eventually let me know what they really needed, when they needed it, and how much they were willing to pay for it. They did all the work. My job became simply to allow them to purchase the product.

I remember meeting with the largest potential client I had up to that point, and asking them to show me their current marketing campaign. It was impressive, and I told them so. A vice president looked at me and said, I have never had a contractor compliment the person they might be replacing.

I got the gig.

4) Be yourself

Directors can always tell when any actor was “acting.” They were more interested in the caliber and character of the person they would be working with, rather than how many acting terms they could spout, who they had “shared the stage with” before, or that they knew the director’s ex-sister-in-law’s lawn boy.

Sometimes “being yourself” is the hardest acting job you will have.

5) When the audition is over, leave.

Oh, this is such good advice, always, everywhere. When you are done, go away.

One director even went so far as to explain that an actor should always pile up their coat, bags, notes, etc. in a handy place by the door so when they finish they can quickly scoop it up and go.

The reason? A speedy exit gives the auditioners more time to consider your suitability for the part. This holds true for every gathering from class reunions to office Christmas parties. Go, be yourself, then leave.

So, go. Be yourself. Be honest. Leave.

Congratulations. You just passed the audition.