NEYT's Mission

Donate to NEYt


Buy Tickets

Notes on the Audition

AUDITIONING WITH TRUTH AND HONESTY  Notes from directors Rebecca Waxman and Stephen Stearns

The search for a piece:

Where can I look for monologues?  
If and when it’s possible, choose a piece from a play you know well and like a lot.  When that’s not possible, you can look at the thousands of monologue collections that are available (search online at a place like amazon or alibris, but remember you can always order books through your local bookstore).  Some books collect pieces from plays – classic and modern – while other books offer self-contained pieces written specifically as audition pieces.  Look through these books to see if the pieces are in a style you like and understand. Kids younger than 14 or so might often be better served by looking through such books, as there is more to choose from.

What makes a good audition piece?
The monologue you choose should be appropriate to your age and personality. It should show off your strongest skills and give you a chance to show what you do best.  IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE ACTIVE (as opposed to a reverie set in the past, a list of things or a re-telling of an old event) AND SHOULD BE ABOUT WANTING AND TRYING TO GET SOMETHING FROM SOMEONE (as in love, power, control – big, juicy needs).

How do I know if it’s a good piece for me?
Be certain that you like it, you understand it and you connect to it.

How much time should I give myself to get a piece ready?
Way more than you think!  The more time you give yourself to get familiar with it, explore it, memorize it and play with it, the stronger your audition will be.  IF YOU WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE, IT SHOWS.


Preparing the piece:

What are the most effective ways to memorize?
See Stephen’s notes on memorization under TAKES AND DOUBLE-TAKES on our website.

What is a character’s objective?  How do I identify it?
Read through the piece many times and ask yourself “What does this person want?”  YOU MUST KNOW THIS COMPLETELY.   Then pay attention to the various tactics the character uses during the piece to get what they want.  If you find and use all these different tactics, you will create a much richer and fuller audition piece that will show off your competence and range.

Who is my scene partner?    
Don’t perform your piece without knowing to whom you are speaking, where they are (presumably) in relation to you on the stage and how they are responding to you.

Can you describe how to use breath – can it help me be more truthful when speaking these lines?
Allow yourself the time and the imagination to HAVE your thoughts.   Allow yourself to discover what you need to say.  Allow yourself to respond to your (imagined) scene partner(s).  The breath can help you do this.  We often have our thoughts and initiate our speaking with our breath; it is the moment of our discovery.  Play with this tool and let it help you.


Performing the piece:

Should I walk around or stand still? What do I do with my hands?
Is it all right to use a chair? How much stage space should I take up?
These are all good questions that are not really answerable.  Your body and your voice should support what is going on in the piece. They should all serve to help you go after the thing you want.  So, you can intimidate a scene partner (if that’s your objective, your WANT) without moving a muscle or blinking an eye OR you could really overpower someone with a booming voice and strong, quick body movements.  It’s up to you.  JUST MAKE SURE YOUR BODY IS GOING AFTER WHAT YOU WANT JUST AS CLEARLY AS YOUR WORDS ARE.

What if I am asked to do two contrasting monologues?
Make sure to choose contrasting pieces.   This means in content (classic/modern) and in style (dramatic/comedic) and also in mood (active vs. still).

Do I need to do a physical or vocal warm up before my audition?
If you want to do your best work – absolutely.  Either do it at home or give yourself time to do it in the building (or outside or in the bathroom – wherever you’re comfortable) where you are auditioning.

Audition concerns:

Where should I look? Can I look at the director during the audition?
If it is a soliloquy (where you are talking to yourself or directly to the audience) then, yes. Otherwise, aim your lines at your imagined scene partner. 

What do I do if I go up on my lines?
Don’t worry, it’s okay!  It happens to everyone.  If it occurs in the first half of your piece, then just stop – you don’t have to apologize – and say you’re going to begin again.  If it happens in the last half of your piece, then stay with the thought of where you were and use your own words to get to the end.  YOU SHOULD KNOW YOUR OBJECTIVE/WANT AND YOUR TACTICS WELL ENOUGH THAT YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO PARAPHRASE THEM IN YOUR OWN WORDS, ANYWAY.  Practice doing this so you will always know how to get from point A to point Z in your piece. 

What is the best way to get a good part in a play?
Focus not on the part you want, not on impressing the audition-ers and not on being perfect.  Focus, instead, on what is going on in your piece. Before you even begin take a moment to breathe, to clarify for yourself what JUST HAPPENED in the story to make you say what you are going to say, and use that moment also to place your scene partner in the space and to see them before you begin.  DO YOUR JOB AS AN ACTOR – prepare, breathe and enjoy the opportunity to perform!

Connect With Us




Back to top