Sometimes actors ask us how they can best prepare for an improv audition. We get used to dissecting scripts as actors…and sometimes when we have to work without one, we get flustered. The Dearing Studio has a four week course on commercial acting to prepare you for improv auditions…but here are a few quick tips to help you put your best foot forward during your next unscripted audition!
When you’re doing an improvised audition, you won’t be asked to give a prepared monologue to showcase your talents. For the most part, you’re going to be faced with one of two situations:
a) You’re going to be asked to look natural performing a certain task or activity. Think driving an imaginary car. Changing an imaginary load of laundry. Drinking an imaginary soda. Things like that. Sounds easy enough, right? These are things we do every day. However for many actors in the audition room, the presence of nerves (or the desire to be funny or interesting) sometimes inhibits truly natural behavior. You may forget to put on the turn signal in your imaginary car…or check your rearview mirror. You may forget to acknowledge the appropriate weight of your beverage. These details really MAKE your audition! They keep you feeling grounded and connected to your activity…and keeps your performance looking natural!
b) You’re going to be engaging in an unscripted scene with some dialogue. If this is the case, don’t forget your space work described above…but remember the most important thing you can do in this scenario is to be connected to your partner. Support him or her in their choices. Try to make your partner successful, because a casting director will notice and appreciate good Improv techniques. Attacking your partner, negating their choices, or steering the scene the way you think it aught to go will not work in your favor. Listen. Be affected by your partner.
As a general rule, if a casting director is coaching you…they LIKE you! They’ve seen something good in your performance and they want to see if you can take direction. Be open. Even if they ask you to do something very different than your original choice, be willing to try it!
Play to the story, not to the character.
For the most part, casting directors are always looking for people who can play realistic characters, (or who can play “over the top” characters and still keep them grounded!). Know and understand the role your character is supposed to play in the commercial. If you’re the “straight man” in the commercial, don’t go for the joke. Understand the tone and feel that the client is going for! Remember, this audition is not about you…it’s about the product. If your performance distracts from the product, then you haven’t made an appropriate choice.
It’s abundantly true…if you are having fun, then the audience will have fun too! Know and believe that you are interesting, funny and compelling when you are just being yourself…natural, realistic and grounded! Everything else is just icing on the cake!
Break a leg, improvisers!