Five Most Common Audition Mistakes Made by Aspiring Actors
“Let your desire for accuracy be greater than your desire for greatness.”
A teacher shared these words with me when I needed them most. Aspiring actors would do well to take them to heart. It’s easy to react to the pressure of auditioning with bad habits centered around results. As an actor, you must focus on the process of living truthfully. Below is a list of common acting mistakes to avoid while auditioning.
1.) Not Listening
Many inexperienced actors take themselves out of a scene by only focusing on their lines. This oversight instantly takes them out of the fictional world. You can tell an actor isn’t listening when they fail to receive what their partner is giving them, are distractedly anticipating their following line, or are eyeballing their script while their partner speaks.
2.) “Set” Line Readings
This faux pas is a killer. Too many young actors set a rote reading for how they deliver a line and express it exactly the same way each time. This misstep prevents them from being present and interacting with their scene partner. A set line reading also takes any sense of life and spontaneity from their acting. How can you live truthfully when focused on recreating a moment rather than living in it?
3.) Lack of Focus/ Poor Sightlines
When you’re auditioning, it’s a general rule of thumb that if it doesn’t land in the frame or the audition panel can’t see it, it didn’t happen. Inexperienced actors tend to lose some of their best moments by delivering them to the floor or ceiling. Others fail to establish where their scene partners are or pick sightlines that make them feel disconnected and absent.
4.) No Sense of Space
Experienced actors tend to be grounded physically, which frees them up to invest their focus and energy into their work. Inexperienced actors tend to lack grounding and fidget all over the place. This is often the result of acting in a vacuum with no sense of where they are. Often, this results in tension and fidgets. The fidgets show up in more ways than one: they appear in swaying, picking, hand tension, fixing hair, playing with their clothes, and facial quirks. A great solution to this is being clear about where you are and having a clear destination.* You can work on this by practicing Dame Uta Hagen’s object exercises with an experienced teacher.
5.) Showing Rather Than Doing
This common acting mistake stems from insecurity. Actors try to show the audience what they are doing and thinking rather than honestly doing something. They get caught up in how the audience perceives their action rather than getting caught up in their character’s pursuit.
Auditions come with a lot of pressure. It’s easy to get caught up in any of the five most common audition mistakes aspiring actors make. If you fall into any of these traps, cut yourself some slack. Take a deep breath, and adjust your focus. Acting isn’t about how you do something; it’s about what you’re doing it for and how that tells a human story humanely.
Remember: you are enough!
Break a leg!
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The Danny Greenberg Studio is a professional performing arts studio for children aged 5 to 18 in New York (Brooklyn and Manhattan!) and online, focusing on vocal and acting training.
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