The Six Steps to Slaying and Surviving an Open Call
Written by Alexandra Muscaro
July 12th, 2019
Auditions: The biggest love/hate relationship an actor has. The idea of singing in front of a table full of strangers is already scary enough, but for some, attending an open call audition can be even more frightening. What even goes on at an open call? Why should you go to an open call audition? What time should you get there? How do you stay calm when you’re surrounded by hundreds of other actors? Open call auditions should not be a scary thing. Here is a step by step guide aimed to help you survive that open call and have an amazing audition!
Step 1: Finding An Open Call
Open call auditions are a great chance to not only get more audition experience under your belt, but they are also an excellent opportunity to perform for directors and casting agents you otherwise would never get to meet. It’s the chance to burst through a door that would otherwise be closed. There are so many resources out there that advertise open call auditions. Some of my favorite sources are backstage.com, actorsaccess.com, and playbill.com. Depending on how often you are auditioning, I would suggest spending the money for the membership subscription. If you are a member, you can see so many more audition notices and extra details about those auditions, and if you’re a little lazy like me, you can even have it set up so that you are automatically emailed when a new audition has been posted
Step 2: Learn to Love “Audition Update”
Believe it or not, the majority of theatre people are kind and supportive of one another. Audition Update is an incredible online chat platform that lets other members message one another and post conversations about auditions. This site will have a ton of information about the open call, and will have answers to questions you have, such as “Is this company legit?”, “Do they treat their actor’s well?”, “Has anyone worked for these people before/did they have a good experience?”, “Will I get to keep my clothes on?”, or “Are these the people who smell like tuna at 9 am?”. This information will not only help you decide whether or not you want to go to the audition but will help you with step three!
Step 3: When to Show Up
Most times, the open call listing will tell you whether or not they will accept an unofficial list if it doesn’t, someone on Audition Update will likely know (that’s why you have to learn to love it). So, this step has two internal options.
A.) They are not accepting an unofficial list:
If they are not accepting an unofficial list, grab your headphones and a coffee because you are in for a long morning. Depending on what the audition is for, there could potentially be hundreds of actors and actresses showing up, so you want to get there as early as possible, especially if you have work or other plans later that day. Usually, they will start seeing people at 9:00 am or 10:00 am so if you want to be certain you are going to be one of the first 50, I’d say getting in line around 6:00 am (yes, I used to cry about it too believe me) would be a good choice. And even if you show up at 6:00 am, I guarantee there will still be at least 30 girls ahead of you. If you’re waiting in line outside during the winter, wear three pairs of socks. Trust me, everyone always has a hat, scarves, gloves, a big ole jacket, and then they forget their poor little toes…or maybe that’s just me.
B.) They ARE accepting an unofficial list:
If they are accepting an unofficial list that is the best-case scenario for you! Yay, you’re not getting hypothermia or heat stroke today! Sorry, you still definitely need to get up early and get to the studio so you can sign up for an early audition slot, but at least you don’t have to spend hours outside in line. I love showing up early, signing my name on the list, and then hanging out in a coffee shop or a bagel shop until the studio opens. If they are accepting an unofficial list, there are always a few crazy people who show up disgustingly early, sign up for an audition slot, and then go back home to sleep. You can absolutely be one of those people if you want (I do not suggest it) but know they exist in case you show up to sign a list at 6:30 am and see you are now #72.
Step 4: Find Your Corner:
Most audition studios open at 8:00 am, meaning you have about an hour in the holding room before auditions even begin. The most significant piece of advice I can offer you is going into the building as soon as it opens to find a little corner/space for yourself. You have to wake up early enough as it, so ladies, you most definitely absolutely do not want to wake up earlier than you need to put on makeup. Guys, you don’t want to wake up earlier than you need to in order do what in the world it is you have to do, like maybe a little pomade in your hair. Ideally, once you have your makeshift dressing room, you will be able to do whatever it is you have to do in preparation for your audition visually. I am proud to say I am now an expert at doing my makeup in the worst kinds of lighting with maybe 6inches of space between me, a wall, and a girl who for whatever reason has decided to rearrange her entire audition book an hour before her audition.
Step 5: Getting into the Zone:
At this point, you’ve officially signed in and have given the monitor your headshot and resume. Now, it’s time to put on your headphones and focus in on yourself. Open call auditions are literally a madhouse. People are running around everywhere, and lots of conversations happening all around you, most of which consist of random girls excitedly screaming at each other because they hadn’t seen each other since theatre camp a million years ago. It is essential not to let the distractions pull you out of the zone. Remember, you are there to have the best audition possible, not to rekindle that friendship you had with that blonde girl you did hair with in community theatre four years ago.
Step 6: Nail the Audition:
After suffering through the waiting and the crowds, it’s finally time to do what you came to do, get up in front of that table and sing your heart out. You have spent hours preparing for the three minutes you get in that room, use all of your time. Every audition, I make sure that I take my time starting from closing the door to walking to the accompanist. Also, side note, remember to address the accompanist, “Good morning” and “Thank you” goes a long way; everyone in the room is watching you, and manners are important. Be completely yourself, because that will set you apart from the hundreds of other girls who you had to jump over to even make it to the door. I like to make at least one little piece of small talk before or after I sing, just so that the people behind the table can get a sense of my personality. Remember, every audition is only another chance for you to perform, the thing you love to do more than anything. Enjoy it! Take a deep breath, have fun, and break a leg.
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