The Different Ways the Casting Panel Gauges Your Skill During Auditions

For those of you who have gone to a few auditions, you may have found cold reading and the prepared audition to be the most common way of auditioning. While they are indeed the usual ways to showcase your acting chops in auditions, there are also other audition methods you should be aware of. You would not want to be shocked if you’re asked to improvise on the spot.

Although it largely depends on the genre of the project, here are the various ways the casting panel gauges your acting during auditions.

Ways Casting Directors Measure Your Acting Chops in Auditions

Cold reading

This type of auditioning involves reading an excerpt of the script, which the actor has never seen or read before. Some productions hand out the excerpt days before or the moment you arrive at the venue. The actor then performs based on their immediate understanding of the scene and lines and the situation explained by the director. The goal of this audition is to see how the actor performs when they are thrown into an unexpected situation and how they instinctively react to a story without a chance to prepare.

casting panel reacting to a performance
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Cold reading is a skill! In fact, many actors take their time and attend workshops or classes just to master it. How do you give cold readings your best shot when you absolutely have no idea what the story is about? How are you supposed to know what emotions the director or writer intends for the most important lines? What if you’re overthinking? For tips, check this article out.

Improvisation

So many commercial and many theatrical auditions are requiring or utilizing improv. It is a different creative skill and most casting directors don’t trust actors to do it at their auditions unless they have studied. The goal of this audition is to see how actors think on their feet and find out if they resist creating without a script. How do they work together when there isn’t a net?

Like cold reading, improvisation is a skill. Improv classes, both basic and professional, are also being offered in various institutions. Carolyne Barry, a casting director, working actor, and director, believes that actors should always start with acting classes and, at the same time or within a few months, do at least six months of improv.

Prepared audition

In this type of audition, actors prepare and memorize a monologue no longer than two minutes. The piece can be from a manuscript or printed play. Sometimes the directors may ask the actor to repeat the monologue at the audition, with a specific direction (e.g., try reciting the monologue as if the character is insane) The goal of this audition is to see how actors prepare and if they can take direction.

Taking direction is one of the most important qualities you should have as an actor to work with directors. Inability to take direction is simply a lack of self-awareness. You may have spent hours working on the script, made a range of bold choices, known your character and their journey back to front. When you get corrected, it doesn’t mean what you did was wrong. It’s just the director trying to help you see their version of the story.

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Rehearsed scene

In this type of audition, actors are given scenes from the play and time to rehearse their scenes before presenting. The goal of this audition is to give actors a chance to prepare and see what they bring to the scene. Do they have ideas, or do they just read the lines? How do the actors work together when they have a chance to rehearse?

Rehearsed scenes also give the casting panel a better view of how potential talent can work with other actors. Most importantly, it allows them to spot chemistry if it’s there. Chemistry is the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people, and it’s something that can be impossible to develop for a pair that just doesn’t work.

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