“What to Expect at an SETC Prescreen Audition”

Written by: Ella Embry

September 29th 2019

Ready for professional auditions? The Southeastern Theatre Conference is a great way to audition for multiple professional theatres at the same time while also networking, taking classes, and meeting with college recruiters! But before you get there, you’ll need to go through prescreen auditions. Here’s what to expect as well as a few tips to help you shine!

If you’re looking to get a foot in the door of professional theatre work, attending theatre job conferences is an excellent way to do it! The Southeastern Theatre Conference has eleven host states and an open call for anyone in the nation to attend. Hosting over 5,000 theatre practitioners for three days for auditions, workshops, keynote speeches, festivals, and college recruiting. Whether you are looking for a college program, a job for after graduation, or a way to network with professionals, you’re sure to find something at SETC.

But! Before you can go to audition – you have to be prescreened. Prescreening is an audition process that takes place at one of the host states before the convention for those who have not yet had a paying, professional, theatre job. The prescreen judges’ main job is to determine whether or not you’re at appropriate levels of skill, professionalism, and self-marketing to benefit from auditioning at SETC. So here’s what to expect at a prescreen audition!

What to Expect at a Prescreen Audition:

Early is on time. I’m sure you’ve already heard this, but it is true! You’ll have to worry about parking, figuring out where to go, and making sure you have time to warm up an

Dress to impress, stand out, and get hired. Make sure to wear something that makes sense for your monologue but isn’t a costume for the character. Wear something that makes you feel confident and ready to perform, and that also makes other people prepared to hire you.

Use this as a networking opportunity and compare notes. You are stuck in a room filled with talented people who love acting just as much as you do – take advantage of it! Be brave and make some new friends or talk about techniques and shows to help network. The theatre world is small, and you never know when or where you might see someone again.

A big table where you register and get your group number. Often staffed with volunteers, the very first thing you’ll do (after finding a place to park and following the signs) is going to the registration table and sign in. You’ll be assigned a particular group and a specific audition number after talking with them. Next, you’ll slap on that sticker and hurry up and wait. 

Introductory/procedural speech by the staff and judges. After you’ve signed in, unless you’re late, they’ll call everyone auditioning into the house of the audition space and give a short speech about how the process will go, who the judges are, and house rules. They’ll also hand out the paperwork you’ll need to receive your audition feedback.

Lots of waiting with interesting people. Unless you’re in the very first group and the very first group number you’ll have some waiting to do. If you traveled with friends, you would get to hang out. If not, then you will have the chance to introduce yourself to other young professionals like yourself! While this can be a great time to hang out and meet new people, be sure to stay professional and ready to perform.

Shuffling to a holding space, a.k.a. A great space to get in the zone. While the group before your own is auditioning, you’ll move into the holding area with the rest of your audition group. There you’ll have time to focus and rehearse. Your audition number will decide when you go in your group, and you may not get a lot of rehearsal time in the holding room, so use your time wisely.

Lining up in groups and hearing others audition. Small groups will be moved from the holding space to the backstage area to wait for just a bit longer before auditioning. There will be seats backstage for the group. Unless you’re the very first in line, you’ll hear some others audition before you. Don’t let it freak you out or interrupt your focus! The only competition is with the judges for the opportunity to go to SETC, not with each other. 

Your big moment to shine. Finally – your turn to audition! You’ll have exactly 60 seconds from the first thing out of your mouth to audition So while saying hello on your way to the mark center stage is courteous you’ll lose time by doing so here. You will lose points for going over the time limit, and that could be the difference between whether or not you get to SETC that year. Make sure that when you rehearse that you rehearse down to the second to make the best use of your time.

Begin ushered out and heading home. After you’ve finished auditioning you’ll head backstage and wait until the rest of your small group has finished auditioning. Then you’ll all file back out to the main space, and you’re done! You may need to confirm some paperwork, specifically where your results can be sent to, but after that, you’re free to go home and celebrate getting through the prescreen!

Go home and wait for that letter with a “yay” or “nay” and some notes. It takes a few weeks, but you’ll receive a physical letter in the mail containing your audition results on a point scale as well as some written notes from each of the judges. Scoring is broken down in four sections: acting skills, voice, physicality, and presentation. The judges will also mark if they recommend if you keep your chosen monologue for SETC or not, but that recommendation isn’t part of the scoring. While incredibly useful, take the judges’ comments with a grain of salt. Acting is a highly subjective art form and everyone, even professionals, have particular tastes about what is valid or not so don’t let it get you down if one of the judges hated absolutely everything about your audition. 

Ella Embry is currently a senior, honors student at the University of Southern Mississippi pursing a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre with an Emphasis in Performance. She is an actor, a playwright, and a Contributing Writer for PerformerStuff.com