We all know that patience is the best key for every performer. But apart from this, it's the advice that comes from these successful celebrities that thrive young performers to keep moving forward.
"Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too."
- Meryl Streep
“Just keep moving forward and don't give a shit about what anybody thinks. Do what you have to do, for you.”
“There’s always going to be someone out there… who doesn’t believe in you or who thinks your head is too big or you’re not smart enough. But those are the people you need to ignore, and those are the times you need to just keep doing what you love doing.”
“Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.”
- Christopher Lee
“Acting is something different to everybody. I just know that if you watch an actor or actress getting better and better, I think that’s them just understanding themselves better and better.”
There’s a great little meme for actors circulating Facebook called ‘The Actor’s Iceberg’ shared by the Performer Stuff page. It’s a reminder that acting is not always what it seems. The image shows an iceberg, with the tip of the iceberg surrounded by social media, Oscars and awards, online references, money, cameras flashing and so on… but below sea-level are things like “study and training”, “patience”, “rejection”, “sacrifice”, “building relationships”, and ”determination”.
A number of our students and graduates have responded warmly to this little graphic – simple though it is, it does capture the life of the actor. What the public sees – the end result, the play or film and its publicity machine – is not the half of it. Acting professionally is work – and requires a high degree of self-motivation, personal preparation and stamina to get to that end point.
Several actors have chimed in on social media with things they’d add to the picture, or noted that rejection appeared four times below the surface. Several others emphasised “therapy” and its importance to the actor.
So why would an actor need therapy? Here are a number of ways counselling can offer help to actors:
Did you know Perform Australia offers actors coaching and counselling, with a specific empathy for their particular concerns?
But more than that, sometimes an actor needs some one-on-one attention in other areas. Auditions coaching, to build confidence and prepare for an important opportunity. Accents tuition, for your next role. Or perhaps some private singing training to improve your voice. Perform Australia can offer you assistance. Find out more here.
So there’s a role you’re keen to get, in a musical you love. The audition’s coming up and you’ve registered. You don’t want to botch it - so how can you put your best foot forward?
Song choice is crucial to success at the audition. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice at your next audition.
1. Have more than one song ready
When preparing for an audition, you should have about five songs that you can pull out of your hat at any time. These songs should be ones you know you can nail. They should be well rehearsed and memorised - lyrics and melody. If the audition panel wants to hear more from you after the first song, then you'll
have something on hand. Most professional auditions require you to have two songs prepared, in any case. But be prepared to whip out something else at a moment’s notice.
2. Prepare contrasting songs
It’s always good to front up to a musical theatre audition with one song that’s pre-1960, and one that’s contemporary. That’s your first contrast. Two contrasting musical theatre traditions.
The second contrast is character. Your songs should display two different characters. One might be Annie Ado with “I Cain’t Say No" from Oklahoma, and the other may be a reprise from Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods, for instance. Your songs should show the types of roles you’re capable of playing. So in your suite of songs, find characters that show a variety of virtues and vices.
3. Choose songs that are age appropriate
If you are twenty, don’t choose to sing an audition song where the character is sixty (like Norma Desmond, from Sunset Boulevard, for instance). Choose audition songs where you would be likely to be cast in the role. Your performance should “make sense” to the audition panel. You don’t want to raise questions, like “Why is he/she singing that?” You need to be believable from the word go.
4. Choose songs that are gender appropriate
You may love a woman’s song from your favourite musical, and sing it well, but if you’re a fella, choose a man’s song for your audition. And vice versa if you’re a woman. Admittedly we live in an age where gender fluidity is up for discussion - but if you are auditioning for a male role in a show, you need to show the panel that you can sing and play a male role. They want to see what you can do, for their show ( - not what you would do for your own personal cabaret performance). If you are going for a male role, sing a male part. If you are going for a female role, sing a female part. By all means, if you are auditioning for a cross-dressing role, a specifically gay or a transgender character, you can choose audition repertoire that reflects this.
5. Choose songs you know you can achieve every time
Sometimes singers have songs they’re working on but haven’t quite mastered. There’s that high note, or that low note, or that difficult melody, that you can’t do consistently well. Only audition with songs you can do well.
6. Learn how to cut your music
You won't always sing an entire song in an audition. Usually, you’ve got to be prepared to cut your music. Depending on the audition requirements (and make sure you familiarise yourself with these), you may only be required to sing a couple of verses and a chorus. So when you sit down to look at your song, make sure you choose the section that will show you off. It may be where there’s a crescendo. It may be where the character is most emotional. It may be the verse that is most similar in sentiment to the character role you’re auditioning for. Select your section, and work out in advance how you are going to explain the section you want sing to the accompanist on the day. Make it clear by crossing out unwanted sections on the sheet music you will provide to the accompanist.
7. Prepare your character
Character is so crucial to selling a song in an audition. It’s not enough to sing sweetly and on pitch. You need to understand where your character is coming from and what they are trying to communicate at the moment they sing their song. So make sure you know what your character is singing about, and tell that story through your expression. Ask, “What does my character want here? What is his/her goal? What do they feel?” and “How can I bring these things to life in my face, my hands, my posture, my physicality?” Answer those questions and you'll be telling your character's story.
These parameters are the important to bear in mind for professional musical theatre auditions, as well as auditions for musical theatre training courses, like Perform Australia's CUA40513 Certificate IV in Musical Theatre.
Theatre Games offers exercises & activities that can be enjoyed by broad range of ages & abilities.
At Perform Australia, we practice these high-energy & fun-filled games to encourage clarity of thought, remain calm under pressure & connect emotionally & physically to the spoken world. These activities act as a warm-up to train performers to get ready to unleash their imagination & performance.
A simple yet effective exercise to bring everyone's focus at the beginning of every session.
The group stands in a circle and is asked to call out one number at a time. Sounds easy? Well, if two players call out a number at the same time, the exercise is stopped and needs to start over.
A fun-filled, physical activity that helps performers to connect their emotions with their character. It easily creates a drama lesson plan that will inspire each performing arts student.
The group forms a circle and each player gets a chance to play an emotion by coming in the center. The group gives the chosen player a specific emotion, that needs to be played by saying the word 'Spaghetti'.
Emotion/character-traits are as such:
Excited-spaghetti, Intelligent spaghetti, rock star spaghetti, cool spaghetti
3. Wink Murder
This activity focuses on promoting concentration and group awareness of all the performers.
The group sits in a circle facing each other and a volunteer is asked to become a detective. This selected detective is then asked to step outside the circle. Meanwhile, the group chooses a murderer from the group that the detective is unaware of. The task for the murderer is to kill the other players (victims), while the detective finds who the villain is.
Know more: Courses that enhance theatrical performance
“Travel broadens the mind”, the saying goes. But how can travel help you as a performer?
Did you know that at Perform Australia, we combine travel with training in one of our courses? In the CUA40513 Certificate IV in Musical Theatre, we take students overseas as part of their course. Sometimes other students and graduates of other courses can also join the trip. Get in touch with our office to find out about any upcoming trips we’re planning.
Writers from Perform Australia contribute to these posts