Archive for category Acting

Putting the Technique Into Practice: A Student Reports on Her Audition

I wanted to share my student Mary Claire’s recent report on her audition for a major Network TV show.  Great to hear the details of how she applied her acting training to her work in the acting world!

Log Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012

After submitting for a role in an upcoming T.V. episode, I did get an audition.
I am so happy to have had one now, because I have learned so much in Robert’s classes compared to my lack of acting training  when we were in California. ( I can’t thank Robert enough for his dedication to us students so we can go out into the acting world and be successful!)
Last week, I had submitted for a role in a regular TV series which reenacts crimes and criminal trials, and the audition was yesterday.
It was amazing!  They had me read sides for the part of an FBI agent.  It’s a principle role.
I kept thinking of my classmate’s recent audition while I was there.  I wondered if they would ask me to do a monologue like he had been…   But they didn’t.
Instead, they had copies of the sides (like the ones we get in class).
After signing in, I took a copy of the sides and read them over several times looking for clues as to the givens and beats/meanings.
Robert had us focus on this and how we use Meisner technique to assess the character.
I had called another classmate on Sunday just to see what this experience would be like since he had worked on this show before.
He was very encouraging and reminded me of how much we know from Robert’s classes compared to what I would experience in the audition.
Boy, was he right!!!
So, when I was called in for the audition, the casting director read one of the character parts and I read my FBI agent part.
On my first read through, I was nice to the perpetrator (his character).
Because I had heard the C.D. tell a gal going into the audition before me, to do the part as if just another day on the job.
 I decided to follow his direction.
The director sitting there told me I looked just like the FBI agent and they really wanted try again.
He asked me to be more forceful with the perp character the second read since they said my character knew this was the guy who cooked the books.
They said I should talk to him like I caught my husband in doing something wrong.
So, I let the guy have it, and the director said that was excellent!
I don’t know if they will pick me for the role since there were several gals being auditioned, but I really enjoyed the moment.
It was like being challenged in Robert’s class and I love that a lot!!!
Everything Robert has taught us was there and helped me succeed:
On-the-spot Meisner analysis of character while looking at the sides minutes before being called in. 
Doing cold readings without choking.
Allowing my impulses to surface.
Responding to the person who was reading his lines. 
Listening and taking direction as I was prompted.
Feeling at ease to enjoy the process.
If it wasn’t for all the wonderful months in class with Robert, (and you guys), working on technique, doing our scenes and making the homework count, I wouldn’t have felt so prepared to tackle this audition!
A very big “Thank You” to Robert for being so patient and always there to explain.

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Common Audition Mistakes – link

Here are some good rundowns on audition mistakes from Directors, courtesy of BackStage:

This updates my blog on Cold Readings, adding some useful info.


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Type Casting

Type-casting is an important issue and has two main aspects:

1. To be aware of your characteristics and how you come across, and what you may be most easily cast for. To some extent you should orient yourself towards your “type” and go out for roles for which you are castable.

2. Type casting, however, can be a box that restricts the range of your roles, if Casting Directors become accustomed to seeing you a certain way and no other.  You should have a balanced approach to your roles, keeping in mind that you should not resist what you are naturally cast for, but use it as an asset, as long as it doesn’t become too restrictive.

If you seem to have the natural characteristics of a certain kind of character, you may be cast for this type consistently, and Directors and others may not get to see what else you can do.

So, to what extent should you go for your expected type, or try to stretch your boundaries and go out for things you would not be expected to play?

I would personally do a mix of both. I would play to my casting strengths, but also do some material that is less expected. You might make the ratio something like 2:1 or 3:1, and go out for some projects that you do not expect to get, but that interest you and stretch your character boundaries. Meanwhile you should play to your strengths and get work.

For monologues, have a main set that is tuned to your typology, and have a few that are outside that box in order to go out for “stretch” projects. You can do the same with headshots, with a main headshot or two that have mainstream looks for you, and another that represents a more “outside” look that represents other interests. You may also represent several character types in a composite head shot.

Type casting is a convenience for producers. They know they have an actor that has the right look and in audition they find out whether you can do the role. It’s up to you to show casting directors that you are capable of playing the roles that interest you if you want to have the opportunity to do more extensive character work.  The lead in Pretty Woman could have been cast for someone with a more traditional look than Julia Roberts, but she brought her own look, charm and personality to the part and won the role.  Dustin Hoffman convinced Mike Nichols that he would make The Graduate into a more interesting statement than the original plan to cast a more collegiate type in the lead role.  One of my favorite actors, Tim Roth, was type-cast as a number of thugs and other tough guys over the years, but wound up with a great and very different project in the TV show Lie to Me.

It’s interesting to watch these patterns and also to look at the difference between someone who plays the same type from year to year and those who break out into other kinds of roles, and what affect this has on their careers.  For Roberts and Hoffman, doing something they might not have been expected to play launched their careers.  For Roth, I think Lie to Me will open a number of eyes to the potential of casting him in other kinds of roles.

In any case it is a good issue to be aware of as you continue to make decisions about how to shape your career.