Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reading Between the Lines

Simon and Garfunkel once wrote a very iconic song entitled, "The Sound of Silence." There is a concept in that title that really applies to the art of auditioning. Throughout my time in casting, I've repeatedly observed the tendency of actors to rush through auditions - a lot of fast talking, and not so much listening. As a result, actors miss the opportunity to bring texture and fullness to the precious spaces between the lines.

It is often due to nervousness. I know when I'm nervous my heart races, my pulse pounds, and I tend to speak rapidly. If I'm really nervous, I can chatter away at warp speed. I see this in auditions all the time, a rushing that affects performance.

Actors are often well-rehearsed and know their lines well, so they look forward to articulating each one as beautifully as they have prepared it. But what is often missed is a reaction, a look, the experience of emotional unfolding and transition which can happen while listening to the other characters, and being affected by them. Those poignant and powerful moments of pain,  joy, desperation, sorrow, anger or whatever emotion is called for, that can happen in a few seconds, can happen during the lines and between the lines, in the silence.

For me, that slowing down, that intent listening makes a character more real, more natural, as I am watching an audition. To allow the time it takes to have a reaction, to have truly heard  the other character, instead of rushing too quickly to your next line, is essential.

Each audition can potentially be your big break, the turning point of your career, a launching pad to that next level of success. Don't rush through it for the wrong reasons.  Okay, if your character is on PCP or has ADD or is fleeing a crime scene with a time bomb strapped to their back, sure, go ahead and speed it up, but generally, slow it down. You made it into the audition room, into a moment of great opportunity, so relax and enjoy that experience to it's fullest. It can be exhilarating, and you want to bring the right energy to it.

That energy is very alert, very active, not laid back. It is very present. But still relaxed and not rushed. Famed playwright and director, Harold Pinter, had great respect for the pause. Just remember to bring fullness to everything that happens in a scene, whether you are speaking or not. Be just as present in those beautiful moments between the lines. That is where the mojo happens!

- Nancy

Monday, January 10, 2011

Skype Coaching Available

Okay, you're in Minnesota, or Iowa, or New York or Dallas and you have an audition in the next few days and you'd like to fine tune that audition. Thankfully, there is Skype. Schedule permitting, I am able, through the magic of technology, to have you beamed into my world, and me beamed right back into yours.

Email info@auditionmojo.com to arrange a time slot of an hour or whatever is needed for coaching -  to receive feedback anywhere in the country you reside, and have an experienced casting eye help you bring out the full potential of your auditions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Quote of the Day: Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey was recently interviewed by James Lipton on BRAVO's INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO.  He was asked what it was like to work wearing so much make-up in THE MASK and he said it was "horrendous" and then he added the following:

"The thing I'd love to share with people is that it's much more than just acting. You gotta transcend whatever bullshit is going on around you at the time and actually make a performance happen. That's really the work of acting. I call it "distr-acting." I always feel like acting schools should do scene work, get them (the actors) to a certain level of excellence, and then bring the scene up while I throw tennis balls at your head and let's see how you do!" - Jim Carrey

Auditioning is great practice for being on the set. It will rarely be a perfect scenario or an ideally nurturing environment. The Casting Director or Director or Producers might be moody or distracted for whatever reason during your audition, or you might hear other actors in the waiting room outside - whatever the distraction, your job is still to give a great performance.

I had an actor share that once during an audition, the casting director was pumping breast milk while the actor was auditioning!! Okay, hopefully that will never happen to you but... consider the audition as practice for doing the job. Any set or location is a buzzing beehive of activity and distractions. If you encounter distractions during the auditioning process, just say to yourself:  "Bring it on. I can handle it!" and give a great performance anyway!