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"You think, you don't just speak. The lines come off the thoughts." Jeremy Irons [ The ability to excel at cold reading is what separates novices from pros and working actors. ] :
Marlon Brando: Acting in general, is something most people think they're incapable of but they do it from morning to night. The subtlest acting I've ever seen is by ordinary people trying to show they feel something they don't or trying to hide something. It's something everyone learns at an early age. [Newsweek, 13 March 1972]
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First, read Auditions page in Theatre Theory directory.

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Page for actors or directors (how to audition).

If by now you still have no resume, you are not ready to audition. Do you have at least three rehearshed monologues in your portfolio (comedy, drama, classic)? Did you read the play you are auditioning for? Do you know the character (have some ideas how to do it), you want to get? Do you know what director is looking for (his/her history)? Are you ready for the cold readings for this script? Did you have any thought about the analysis of the story and the character? Can you answer straight questions like -- "Why do you want to be in the cast?" "What can you contribute to the show?" and so on. Think as if you go for an interview for a job (all those questions could/should be asked).

How to get ready for auditions?

Write all those questions in your actor's journal (do you have one?) -- and try to answer them.

Write your own self-evaluation (monologues); check the acting pages -- do the monologues express the best of your acting qualities?...

Well, here is the troubling part -- how well do you know yourself?

I ask performance majors to write the wish list in their journals: what roles would you like to play? Do you have it? You should! Write it; you can change it later. Put every great part -- Hamlet, Romeo, doesn't matter. The list would force you to think in practical terms (how will do it, what is so important for you). Even in the Fundamentals of Acting, when they complain about the lack of experience to list, I say -- write the role you would wish to play, even from the movies! Write, why you think you can do it better than Gibson or Hoffman.... Engage yourself into the process of mental, emotional and spiritual preporartion! This is METHOD, my friend! Method to be ready!

Theatre Theory Pages
Note to directors: this is what you should expect and ask from the actors before considering them... are you yourself prepare? Did you do all the above yourself?


Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him. ~ Orson Welles

An actor is something less than a man, while an actress is something more than a woman. ~ Richard Burton


An actor is only merchandise. ~ Chow Yun-Fat
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When I was a fireman I was in a lot of burning buildings. It was a great job, the only job I ever had that compares with the thrill of acting. Before going into a fire, there's the same surge of adrenaline you get just before the camera rolls. ~ Steve Buscemi


Please, read acting for the camera pages in advance: Actors in Film Directing, Film in BM and Camera in Method Acting.
It's such a cuckoo business. And it's a business you go into because you are an egocentric. It's a very embarrassing profession. ~ Katherine Hepburn
First: a "neutral state" ("tabula rasa"--blank slate) -- an empty canvas -- on which to place their art.
Second: Imagination and Observation. The term "affective memory" has often been used to refer to use of the actor's memory to find things in his/her life that are similar to, or could evoke, the emotions required by the character on stage.
This would involve emotional memory (remembering feeling from the past), sense memory (remembering sensations), and substitution (mentally replacing the thing / person in the play with something / someone in real life).
Third: Control and Discipline -- Actors must learn how to develop their powers of concentration.Must be aware at all times of their current situation (being an actor on stage, with an audience out front) and the context of the play (what is the character doing/feeling/etc.)What am I doing? -- NOT how am I doing? [ from Dr. Eric W. Trumbull, Professor, Theatre/Speech Notes *

from Acting I: Auditions: * Performer’s name
* Short description of situation where character speaks
* Title of the Play, Writer, Character's Name

Be prepare to answer, if asked:
* Attitude/tone of author depicted in text
* What does the character want in the scene?
* What is the goal or objective?
* What is the emotional state of the character?
* Act/Scene of monologue and why did you select this monologue?
* What is this character like?

[ selection of monologue should be appropriate to the ability, age, and sex ]

** Write the character analysis in your Actor's Journal (before -- and after your auditions)!

monologues links

Cold reading skills separate those who audition well from those who act well. It's all about your script analysis, choice-making and execution. And those are things that you CAN learn.

... Simply put, if you can analyze and interpret Shakespearean scenes, you can analyze and interpret anything. Shakespeare requires an actor to pay attention to language, musicality, rhythm and intent. How many times when working on Shakespearean text do you make discoveries in the text about the meaning and enlarge your understanding? What did you do to make those discoveries? You followed what you know, the given circumstances, from the text. No mystery there. [ read SCRIPT ANALYSIS files ]

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"His work on each new role actor must begin with his work on himself." Stanislavsky
The thing that makes a creative person is to be creative and that is all there is to it. Edward Albee
I resisted, I didn't want to have this page.

Maybe, I thought, I will make it one day in -- Director's book.

All acting textbook have it -- How to Audition.

You know, you read them.

I understand; after all the auditions is THAT thing between you and the show.

Since you read a lot about auditions, I don't have to repeat what you already should know.

I rather make a few points about the sensitive matters. Like.... a talent. Does it exist?

Oh, yes, it does!

How about "luck"?


But if you are lucky, you do not have to do anything, do no need to skills or knowledge, nothing -- including the talent, right?

But what is this thing "T"?

Listen, can you tell me first, why do you want to know? What difference would it make if I will tell that you have a talent? Will you work more or less?

If you will work more, I am telling you -- Yes, you have it!

If you work today less than yesterday, my answer is -- No, you have no talent!

Russian pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein used to say that when you do not practice one, you notice it it. Two days -- your friends notice it. Three days -- the public knows it. There are three parts in it: monologues, cold reading -- and the call back.

For the first step see the monologue pages and portfolio.

For pre-audition stage -- check the Cast Idea.

Do you have a resume? See Students Directory.

I have no cold reading page, but read scenes study pages.

And also read Last Note -- for actors!

Look, I try to write about what NOT to do. What NOT to think about. What NOT to read. How NOT to waste your time and energy. How NOT to go in wrong directions. NOT be interested in stupid questions. NOT notice, NOT hear, NOT see....

In short, to be FOCUSED. To have directions.

YOUR OWN directions.

To know what you want is to know what you DO NOT want.

To know what you are is to know what you are NOT.

In acting theory it's called "choices"!

Means -- one, not many, not even two.

Means you have to have MANY and select ONE.

If I can see it -- you have none.

You have to learn how to NEGATE, how cut out....

Yes, I am talking about your daily existence, friend.

List what you did yesterday. And the day before. Take a good look at this list -- cross out what was the waste of your time. Because this is the time when you can -- acting!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
CHEKHOV: Tobacco

... Oh, you'll see I can get tipsy on just one glass. Then I feel so happy and at the same time so sad, it's unimaginable. I think of my yough, and then somehow I long to run away, to clear out. Oh, if you only knew how I long to do it! To run away, to be free of everything, to run without ever looking back... Where? Anywhere, so long as it is away from that vile, mean, cheap life that has made me into a fool, a miserable idiot; to run away from that stupid, petty, hot headed, spiteful, nasty old miser, my wife, who has given me thirty-three years of torment; to run away from the music, the kitchen, my wife's bookkeeping ledgers, all those mundane, trivial affairs... To run away and then stop somewhere far, far away on a hill, and stand there like a tree, a pole, a scarecrow, under the great sky and the still, bright moon, and to forget, simply forget... Oh, how I long to forget! How I long to tear off this flock coat, this coat that I wore thirty-three years ago at my wedding, and that I still wear for lectures for charity!
(He tears off his coat.)
Take that: And that:
(Stamping on the coat.)
I am a poor, shabby, tattered wretch, like the back of this waistcoat. (He turns his back showing his waistcoat.) I ask for nothing. I am better than that. I was young once; I went to the university, I had dreams, I thought of myself as a man, but now... now, I want nothing. Nothing but peace... peace.
(He looks off stage. Quickly he pick up his flock coat and puts it on.)
She is here. My wife is there in the wings waiting for me. (He looks at his watch.) I see our time is up. If she asks you, please, I beg you, tell her that her scarecrow husband, I mean, the lecturer, me, behaved with dignity. Oh, she is looking at me.
(He resumes his dignity and raises his voice.)
Given that tobacco contains a trrible poison, which I have had the pleasure of describing to you, smoking should at all costs be avoided, and permit me to add my hopes that these observations on the harmfulness of tabacco will have been of some profit to you. And so I conclude. Dixi et animan levavi!*
(He bows majestically, and exits with grand dignity.)

Lesson #
60 or 90 min

1. review (previous class)

2. overview

3. new key terms & definitions

4. monologues & scenes

5. issues & topics

6. questions, discussion, analysis

7. in class work

8. feedback

9. improv & games

10. reading

11. homework

12. online, journals

13. quiz



Chekhov Pages

Class Project (after the midterm)

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare - Acting resources, career guides, and casting information.

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Monologue Mistakes

Selecting material that is too old or too young for them. It’s very important to find material that is somewhere in your age range. It only makes the casting directors job more difficult if you’ve selected a monologue with a character that’s too young or too old.

Editing several bits of a character’s dialogue from the play and then trying to “force” it to work as an audition monologue. You must remember, this material was not written to be performed for auditions, that wasn’t why the playwright wrote it. So your slicing and dicing of his dialogue should be done carefully and judiciously. You may need some help with this.

Selecting material that doesn’t have any dramatic (or comedic) impact. Remember, this is an audition, not only do you want to be able to show your wares, you should find material that will “engage” the casting director, make them want to watch.

Selecting monologues that are too heavy on exposition. I really don’t care about a characters entire background, I want to see characters that are alive and active right now in front of me.

Selecting a monologue that doesn’t have any transition. You don’t want to do a monologue that only expresses one emotion over and over. In the short period of your audition, you want to be able to express some emotional variety. Always remember, this is an audition for you, the actor. Although the writing may be wonderful, I want to see a monologue that tells me something about you as an actor.

Selecting monologues that can’t stand on their own, without having to know the rest of the play. So often an actor will select a monologue from a play that he’s worked on. The advantage is that he knows the character very well, a good thing. But you also have to look at the monologue as “audition material”. It’s important that it is able stand up on it’s own. If the monologue is mostly expositional, or, if every thing you’re speaking about , can only be understood only if you’ve read or seen the rest of the play, this is not a good audition piece.

Selecting material that has been “done to death” by other actors. Yes, some of those great monologues really move you, excite you. Well guess what? They move and excite thousands of other actors, who do them every day, at countless auditions. Many of the casting directors that I’ve spoken with, constantly complain about how they seem to see the same material over and over. They can almost recite the lines out loud themselves. It can only work to your advantage to find material that is new, original, and engaging.

Doing the same monologue so often so that it becomes “stale”. Yes, you loved that monologue when you first started doing it three years ago. But after you’ve done it a few hundred times, you’ll notice that you seem to go on automatic pilot every time you do it. You feel nothing. So what do you think the casting director will feel at the end of your audition? Rotate your material constantly. Find material that constantly keeps you involved, and you’ll soon discover that you’ll be giving better auditions, getting more call backs.

Choosing material that is inappropriate for the play that you’re auditioning for. For instance, if you’re auditioning for a new Neil Simon play, doing dramatic material from Sam Shepherd or Eugene O’Neil is not a smart choice. No one says that you should only use other Neil Simon material for your audition, but it behooves you to find material that’s in the same ballpark. Try to find things that are similar in genre and sensibility.

Selecting material that runs too long. If the casting breakdown says two minutes, don’t bring in material that runs over four minutes. And don’t cut that four minute monologue that you sometimes do, down to two. More often than not you’ll cut the life, the muscle out of the monologue. Just find an appropriate two minute monologue that is suitable to this particular audition. It’s not like there’s a shortage of good material out there.

Selecting inactive, past tense monologues. Remember when you were a child how your parents used to read you those fairy tales that were mostly told in a narrative form, and mostly in the past tense? If you’ll recall, they told you those stories to put you to sleep. Doing past tense, narrative, expositional monologues will have the same effect on a casting director. Try to select emotional, present tense, active, conversational material.

Choosing material that is offensive. Curse words, offensive language, and sexually explicit material is rarely appropriate for most auditions. There are some plays that using this kind of material is appropriate, say some David Mamet plays, for instance. By and large, you’ll only lose points by offending the casting directors with off-color language.

Selecting material that “stretches” you. Auditions are not the time to show your range. Actors should select material that best shows off their strengths right now. There is no point in showing them that you can play a seventy year old character if you’re only thirty.

Selecting a monologue that’s written in a very distinct dialect. Generally, it’s not too smart to do an audition piece in a dialect. There are exceptions. If the play that you’re auditioning for is written in that dialect, and you are adept at it, it’s okay. Time and again I’ve seen talented actors ruin a good audition because their dialect kept slipping, calling attention to itself.

Ten Steps To Successful Monologue Auditions

1. The first step actually begins before the actual audition. Before you leave home try to get yourself in the right frame of mind. Relax, perhaps do some breathing and stretching. Some people use visualization and imagine what they would like to happen at the audition. See it in your minds eye.

2. Arrive at the audition at least twenty minutes early. Make sure that you are relaxed and ready to work. Sometimes it’s good to go off in a corner and do a quick speed through of the monologue(s), followed by a run through. Don’t waste valuable time chatting with other actors or socializing.

3. When it’s your turn to audition, make sure that you are in positive state of mind, relaxed and ready to act. As part of your preparation, you want to be in character for the first monologue. Enter the audition room in a confident and professional manner. Remember, you are being judged from the moment you enter the room.

4. Smile directly at the people auditioning you, say hello, and find the playing area that you will be auditioning in. If they wish to engage you in conversation you must be willing to talk with them. Most casting directors save conversations for after you perform.

5. Announce what the monologue is from and the characters name. There is no reason to give a description of where in the play the monologue takes place.

6. Give yourself a moment, and then perform it as best you can.

7. When you’ve completed performing the monologue, if they’ve requested a second one, prepare to make the transition from the first character to the second. Once again, give yourself a moment before you begin. Again, give it all you got.

8. After you’ve finished, smile, let them know you’re through, say “Thank you”. If they wish to talk with you, you must be ready and willing to converse in a friendly and professional manner. They may want to get a sense of you as a person, as a potential actor in their play or company. They may ask you what you’ve been up to lately. You should have the answer to this question prepared in advance.

9. When they’ve finished talking with them, tell them it was nice meeting them, again say thank you, and leave in a confident, unhurried, professional manner.
Once you leave the room, the only thing left to do is to let go of that audition and move on to the next thing in your day.

Three short rules should govern your choice of materia:

1. If the audition calls for 2 minutes, do 2 minutes exactly. Such auditions are usually conducted with an egg-timer and operate on the expectation that you have practiced your piece to perfection and can deliver it within the strict limitations.

2. Although comedy monologues are harder to do well in audition settings than dramatic material (humor being a more subjective medium than pathos), it is entirely your choice to do whatever you personally feel comfortable with. If you’re the kind of person who could make reading a grocery list hilarious, go for it!

3. Unless you have a unique spin to put on a familiar passage from DEATH OF A SALESMAN or A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, you are probably better off choosing a lesser known play and/or monologue. You need to remember, after all, that directors have heard the same scenes a thousand times over. Try to dazzle them with something refreshingly different.

(1) do not put your hands in your pockets and (2) if they happen to wander there of their own nervous volition, do not have anything noisy in them like loose change or keys that could create a distraction.

Treat every audition like an actual show. Do your best performance when it’s your turn, and accord your competitors the same respectful attention they deserve when it’s their turn.

Criteria for Acceptance into Advanced Drama

In auditioning and interviewing potential students, the Drama Director looks especially for the following qualities:
* A serious commitment to an acting career in the professional theater.
* A potential for vital, individualistic, trainable growth—regarded as more important than the applicant’s present state of technical accomplishment.
* Energy, openness of mind, enthusiasm, and a readiness to take risks.
* A body, voice, and imaginative/emotional powers promising significant dramatic development.
* A potential for identification with the thought process of a text.
* A generosity of spirit essential to ensemble playing.
* A sense of humor, a sense of language, a sense of rhythm, and a capacity for sustained concentration.
* A readiness for hard, rigorous work.

If you find a great monologue in a book of monologues, find the play it is from and see if the same character has another monologue in the play. That way you’ve found a piece that isn't "over-used" and may be a monologue that auditors have not heard. Besides, you have to read the play anyway. You will find some really great monologues this way in a short period of time. Make sure that it is a monologue that you like. Nothing like going into an audition with material that you are uncomfortable performing. This is your audition. Choose your monologues well. These books are a great resource; so use them.


The auditors will know if you have done your homework, or not. If you go into that audition with just a few lines from some character in some play and they ask you about the play or the character in the play (and they will!) you will regret it. The auditors will probably not wrestle you to the ground and pummel you, even though you would deserve it. You probably will not be called back or be asked to join the program. Read the play and study your character. This


Understand your character's focus. Monologues where the character is talking to another person are GREAT. Soliloquies, where the character is talking to themselves are more difficult when it comes to focus. Granted, Shakespeare wrote a lot of soliloquies - but they are pretty long. Better to choose a nice little speech that is part of classical dialogue rather than a long-winding introspective monologue. [ * ] Also, read Mono II and Auditions in THR Theory!

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