Why Turning Points Will Transform Your Auditions

Mar 7, 2024 | Acting, Auditions, Voice

Turning Point: a point at which a significant change occurs.

This expression, defined above by my girl Mirriam (Webster), has been used since 1777. It was also the number one phrase at the tip of my tongue during an audition master class I oversaw this past weekend. The class was taught by an excellent casting director who’s been in the business for years. Let’s talk about what a turning point is in acting and why it kept coming up during an audition master class with a casting director. 

What is a Turning point in acting? 

In acting, a turning point can be defined as the Point of no return. A moment or action that, once taken, your character can not return to where they started. Let’s use the excellent porch scene in “Proof” between the two sisters as a case study. That scene is trudging along with both sisters chatting the morning after a big party. It takes a bend when Claire bridges the idea of her sister Catherine leaving their childhood home and moving to New York with her. Catherine agrees that she needs time to figure out her life but says she can do that in her own house. Then comes the turning point- Claire drops the bomb of abruptness, and there is no going back to where the scene started – “We’re selling the house.” 

The Proof scene from that moment is irrevocably changed. It goes from two sisters laughing about a party and discussing figuring the future out to a total power struggle, blame game, and even a reckoning of their handling of their now-deceased father’s illness. This singular moment opens the “Pandora’s box” of the sisters’ relationship, and it is gold to an actor—the turning point of the scene.  

Why is a turning point important in an audition? 

In an audition, a turning point is an opportunity to reveal character and find dynamic relationship shifts. During the master class I discussed above, the casting director kept giving notes tied to progression (finding a clear beginning, middle, and end to scenes or songs). Actors were being too static in their choices. A turning point allows you to define the moment where the progression shifts clearly. Remember, in auditions, you are generally given little time or material to go through the progress characters experience in an entire play or film. This condensed version of the material makes it essential to define the turning point in your audition and make bold choices. 

How to apply a turning point to your audition

Finding a turning point is the first step towards applying one in your audition. Once you’ve gone through the scene, ask yourself which moment your character can not go back to where the scene started. Then, ask yourself what this reveals about who they are and how it impacts their relationships. Then, make acting choices that unveil their hopes, dreams, fears, and insecurities. 

Before you know it, you will act the scene dynamically and take inevitable actions to pursue your character’s dreams. Next time you have an audition or master class, try this technique. Enjoy the thrill of going past the Point of no return. The casting team will enjoy it, too. 

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