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Overthinking Your Audition

“Have some questions; make some decisions and be ready to change them.”

English actor, director, National Campaign for the Arts chair, and theatre guy I follow on Twitter, Samuel (might not know him by name but will recognize his face) West penned an article about, what he sees as, a worrisome trend in actor auditions.

While it makes sense to West for actors to turn in polished film auditions, he is not impressed by actors showing up to theatre auditions with the same level of perfection.

“There’s clearly a new generation of young actors of remarkable skill and truthfulness on camera, influenced by the best of US, Scandinavian and British television. That screen skill, though, doesn’t necessarily translate to an ability to portray a character from a different period in a different style in the theatre. So a director has to meet them and find out if they can do it on stage.”

During a recent audition process for a play he was directing West saw many well rehearsed, completely off - book polished performances. And he didn’t like it.

“I look for something other than immediate perfection in an audition: talent, niceness and rightness for the part, in that order . . . I can think of nothing worse than casting somebody because they gave a perfect audition, then discovering they’re unable to change it in any way.”

At the auditions, West gave each actor one note to see if they could adapt and change what they had prepared on their own.

“And very often, the people who were best prepared, and most reliably off-book, were the least flexible.”

West would rather see the actor take the time to read the entire play (many did not) and come in to the audition a bit rough but ready to work and able to talk about the story the playwright is telling.

Read the full article here: Samuel West Talks Auditions

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