WE’VE BECOME ACCUSTOMED to working, schooling, performing and even doing college theatre auditions virtually. The 2020-2021 college audition season was the first-ever done completely virtual. Students didn’t have the opportunity to audition for college theatre programs in person. The National Unified Auditions held annually in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles were even virtual.

Just because we’ve been auditioning virtually recently doesn’t mean we’re used to it and it doesn’t mean that it’s easier than in-person auditions. Or that it’s more comfortable. It’s definitely a process that takes time to get comfortable going through. There are four simple steps you can take to set yourself up for successful college theatre auditions.

STEP 1: SETTING UP YOUR SPACE

Dedicate a space for your auditions. It can even be your own bedroom. You want a peaceful environment for your college theatre auditions on a consistent basis. A room that you have unlimited access to and where you feel comfortable is perfect.

Set up a clean background that’s not distracting. While your background might not seem that important, it is! You want the viewer focused on YOU and not what’s behind you. A plain background is best.        

How to focus on YOU

Put the walls to work: A neutral-colored wall works well. The wall in the room you’re using for your college theatre auditions doesn’t have to be white, a color is great! I’ve had students look excellent on camera with vivid wall colors behind them.

Choose a backdrop: You can use a cloth backdrop tacked to the wall or on a stand that can be purchased from Amazon. If you’re using a backdrop, it should be ironed or steamed so the wrinkles aren’t distracting. You can also purchase backdrop paper in a variety of sizes and colors. I like this option because it’s quick, easy, and you don’t have to iron. Plus, you can tape or tack this paper to the wall if you don’t have a backdrop stand. Be careful not to damage the wall. 

Limit the noise around you: Quiet please! I realize it’s challenging with other people in the house to impose total silence on everyone. Remember, though, that any outside noises may be distracting to you and the auditors. Turn off all notifications on your phone and computer. The email/text notification, even if it’s not making a sound could interrupt music you are streaming.

Take your mark: Be sure the camera you’re using is set to your eye level. You don’t want to appear to be looking down during your college theatre auditions. You’ll most likely be using the camera on a computer. So, when you’re standing in your audition space set the camera accurately. You can easily prop your computer up to the correct height with books or by placing your computer on a shelf.

It’s a good idea to use masking tape on the ground to show your marks for a three-quarter shot and a tight shot from your shoulders up. With marks, you won’t worry you’re standing in the wrong place and be able to focus on your audition.   

STEP TWO: CHOOSING THE BEST TECHNOLOGY

You don’t need to purchase a lot of fancy equipment to have a successful audition. However, these items can give you an advantage.

Ring light: Being properly lit for your auditions is necessary. You want to look your best. You’ll have many uses for a ring light as an actor. You’ll need to submit self-tapes and film prescreens, and a ring light can even be used for your online classes.

Stable internet connection: Test your internet well before you start the audition process. If your connection is unstable or it lags, see what you can do to fix the problems. Your auditions won’t be their best if there’s a delay in connectivity. You may need to get a signal booster.

Computer with a camera: A computer with a camera is a must for college theatre auditions. Some students have tried to audition from their phones, and it doesn’t always go well. While I can’t speak for every audition situation, sometimes the platforms on which you’ll be auditioning don’t work on a mobile device (at least this audition season). 

Bluetooth speaker: If you’re auditioning for musical theatre programs, you’ll need a Bluetooth speaker on which to play your music. It won’t be loud enough if you play it on your phone and playing it on the same device on which you’re auditioning isn’t reliable.

External microphone: An external microphone can improve the audio quality. You want to sound your best. Having an external mic will certainly help pickup your vocals. Computer mics generally aren’t high quality.

STEP 3: DOING YOUR PREP WORK

Being completely prepared for your audition, whether it’s virtual or in person, speaks volumes. Your preparation shows that you care, you’re organized, and you want this.

An unprepared student is easy to spot. A student who knows their material and is prepared stands out from the crowd and shines. 

If you’re singing, then have your music cued up and your Bluetooth speaker ready. Have all your songs and monologue performances ready in case you’re asked to perform.

Do your research ahead of time. Research the schools and the people for whom you’re auditioning. What you discover will help you understand who they are and what they do. You’ll feel more prepared and therefore more confident.

It’s a good idea to have a couple of prepared questions in case they ask: “Do you have any questions?” Questions about their previous programs or plans for the coming year are good in most situations. Also, if they’ve said something that isn’t clear to you, calmly ask for clarification. Asking for clarification shows maturity and inquisitiveness to fully understand situations.

STEP 4: CREATING A PRE-AUDITION ROUTINE (RELAX!)

Try to breathe deeply and slowly. This deep breathing will help your body relax and your mind to focus on the audition ahead. Just like an athlete who creates a pre-game routine which creates muscle memory, creating your own pre-audition routine will benefit you, too! Your routine will help you warm-up and be mentally prepared.

Know going into college theatre auditions process that the auditors want you to succeed. Whether you’re auditioning in person or virtually, they’re on your side! They’re not out to get you; they’re not sitting behind the camera snickering. They want you to do your best. The best fit for you may be that audition or maybe it won’t. Remember, each time you audition it’s an opportunity to perform.

Technology glitches happen and we all have to deal with them so remain calm. If you get kicked out of the waiting room or you receive the wrong link, it’s okay, you won’t miss your opportunity to audition.  At this point, we all know that connectivity issues can happen (which is why it is important to do your best to have stable Internet), these things are beyond our control. Show up and do your best. Try not to let the uncontrollable factors throw you.  I had a student who had an audition for an acting program and was in the waiting room and then was sent the wrong link for her actual audition, she finally made it to the right room and when she got there everyone was completely understanding.

COLLEGE THEATRE AUDITIONS: THAT’S A WRAP!

While the 2021-2022 college auditions season may not be 100% virtual, there’s a strong chance it will remain virtual or hybrid. Begin preparing for your college theatre auditions early so you’re ready and you shine!

Content written by Laura Enstall who  creates confident, prepared actors. She is the owner and founder of Audition Well and is a well-respected St. Louis-based College Audition Coach. She specializes in college audition prep, acting and acting-the-song training for high school students in the United States and internationally. She is a CAP Certified Teacher with College Audition Project which means Audition Well students enjoy access to exclusive auditions. Laura is a proud member of AEA and an adjunct theatre professor for Lindenwood University and St. Charles Community College. Because she believes in giving back to the theatre community, she regularly shares her expertise, audition tips and other valuable, free content on Instagram, so be sure to follow @auditionwell

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