Monday, December 20, 2010

Melanie R. Buchanan on audition monologues, songs and callbacks.

"What should I do for a monologue or song for an audition?" "Where do I find a monologue or song?" "What is a callback?" These are great questions that I get asked a lot, so I thought I would address them.

First, read the script of the play you want to audition for. Reading the script allows you to know if directors are looking for comedic or dramatic and classical or contemporary monologue. You definitely want to pick a monologue that is the same genre as the play.

The same can be said for picking a song. Read the musical and be somewhat familiar with the style of music. It is best to pick a song from a similar Broadway musical. And as a rule of thumb, it is best not to audition with a piece directly from the particular musical, unless specifically asked for that.

For example, for auditions for Once Upon a Mattress, since it is an older show, picking a song from a contemporary musical such as Wicked or Rent is probably not appropriate. The show originally opened on Broadway in 1960, so more "classical" musical theater would be suitable. For Macbeth, we are specifically asking for dramatic Shakespearean or classical monologues, so you wouldn't want to audition with a piece from A Midsummer Night's Dream. As for The Velveteen Rabbit, there is a little bit more flexibility than with the others, because the play itself is both uplifting and dramatic.

How do you go about finding a monologue or song? My suggestion is to read more plays and watch more musicals. The library allows you to borrow movies, so I would start there. You can always listen to YouTube clips to get a better understanding of the musical style, although there are a lot of bad productions of plays out there, so beware!

Finding a monologue can be a lot more difficult. You can use the Internet as a starting point, but I would shy away from monologues that are written just as monologues. What does that mean? Well, finding a monologue from a specific play is much preferred to a monologue that stands alone. Once you have found a monologue you're interested in, again, go and read the play. The play gives you the clues as to age, content, back story, etc. These sites have a collection of different monologues from plays:

It can take a lot of time and effort to find just the perfect monologue. And once you have that perfect monologue, there is nothing stopping you from using it at more than one audition.

Keep in mind that these are merely suggestions. Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is a community theatre and we completely understand and know that you are not professional actors, nor do we expect you to be. We definitely keep that in mind when holding auditions. If someone comes in with a monologue that doesn't seem to showcase what we are looking for, we may ask you to do something else. For example, if you bring in a dramatic monologue for a comedy, we may ask you to tell a joke! If you bring in a song that is not in the same genre, we may ask you to sing a short bar from a different musical. We may also ask you to return for a callback.

What is a callback? Usually callbacks are for the director to see a little bit more of you after your short, short audition. Directors may ask you to read directly from the script or dance. And we aren't asking you to be perfect ... no one expects you to pick up the script and give the best reading of a part or to learn a short 8-count of dance and be able to recall it perfectly. We want to see you try your hardest, which shows your dedication and your desire to be in the show. And if you don't get a callback, that does not mean you haven't been cast, it just means the director does not need to see any additional work from you.

And we don't punish you for getting nervous. We directors know you get nervous ... so if you flub up a line or your hands shake or you miss a step, don't panic! It's perfectly OK to make a mistake or to get nervous. We take that into consideration. We certainly don't want you to feel miserable during an audition!

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