Acting : Audition Fears - Best Tips by Stav Spyrou

Stav Spyrou

Audition Fears - Best Tips

How many of you have audition fears and how do you cope with them?

I've heard some people say they fear getting nervous, and because they're afraid to get nervous they get nervous.

Does this happen to you, what audition fears come up for you and how do you deal with them?

Taylor C. Baker

raises hand - I have always gotten crazytown nervous before auditions and performances. However, the second I step in the room or onto the stage/set, I always feel better and get lost in "the work". Remember - the casting directors/audience WANTS you to succeed.

It is just the anticipation that drives my nerves wild. Breathing exercises help me - the classic breathe in for four, breathe out for four. Another thing that really helps me is not letting an audition be too precious - my life is not defined by whether or not I get that part or not - I just try to have fun and enjoy the process! Thank you for asking Stav Spyrou! What helps you?

Steve James

Any time you are performing in public, nervousness is a natural feeling, but being afraid is a negative emotion. Do you know your script, objective, character's emotional state and a handle on what the project is? Then go for it!

Stav Spyrou

Thanks Taylor. Getting lost in the work, having fun, is awesome!!

What has helped me was working on and clearing out those internal barriers and that inner voice that that has you, worrying what other people think, feeling that you're not good enough, what would happen if you made a mistake etc

Stav Spyrou

Thank you Steve, however I'd like to ask why do you think that nervousness is a natural feeling when performing in public?

Karen E Ross

Hey, Stav Spyrou! Great question! I tend to apply the rules of aptitude test-taking to auditioning as my way of reducing potential disasters: do your homework to your own level of satisfaction, write down any questions you may have (because you are likely to forget your own mind when you are asked to play someone else), do some practice runs to get rid of the things that don't work, and then rest. Sometimes good sleep the night before is not possible because of the excitement that naturally comes with anticipation, but I am a firm believer that rest can supplement sleep, and slow-but-continuous movement can prevent you from freezing. So I do everything in my power to clear my schedule so that I can take it easy (or as easy as possible) before an audition. When introducing myself, I try to make the day of the person across from me better so that every moment it doesn't have to be about me, it isn't. Oh, and if I am able, I like being the first to audition so I don't have to see who came before me.

Steve James

Stav, our natural 'fight or flight' response ensures that when we are the centre of attention, we become more 'hyper-aware' of our surroundings and our body's reaction to it. This results in a cold sweat, a raised heartbeat, a focused hearing and sight ability and a readiness to move quicker. All of this equals what we call nervousness/fear. However, if you know you are going to feel this way in advance, you can use these feelings for what they are - a heightened awareness of your surroundings and your place in it, not for what you think they are - fear.

Ken Moretti

Hello, Stav! Great question! I have found in my own acting work and listening to my actor peers one salient fact: We all get nervous. Likely we get nervous because we want to succeed; we want to be accepted. If we didn’t get nervous, then we may not care, which is self-defeating. There are many techniques to overcome fear of failure and to calm down the adrenaline rush that comes with auditioning. I use deep breathing exercises from the abdomen right before my performance(Yes, auditions are your opportunity to perform). I also stay out of my head, a dangerous place, and work on putting myself in the persona of the character. Answering “4W questions” (who, what, where, when questions) about my monologue or scene) keep me focused on staying in the moment. I reiterate what Taylor said: “Casting Directors want you to succeed”!

Erick Freitas

Anytime I act - I feel sick to my stomach. It's just part of the process I guess.

Debbie Croysdale

I used to get nervous public speaking or reciting prose on stage cos it was myself under a microscope with goldfish bowl of eyes all on ME and never went on stage with a paper in case my hands shook. Acting I was total opposite, with no self consciousness because I was hiding behind another character. A bit of nerves is okay, use the adrenalin as fireball for your cause. @Karen has it so right about sleep the night before audition (or anything important), mind and body replenish over eight hour spell. With regards tips, I remember self consciousness was main problem if not concentrating on a particular character, so I would soak up trivia and think about other peoples problems. I used to buy magazines and read about some banal person on the threshold of a cliff hanging experience and that was in my head when stepping on stage.

Tasha Lewis

Talk to the mirror or use the chair technique. Place a chair in front of you and pretend to perform for the agent, director, manager or producer. The mirror technique is good to view your facial expressions. Models use it all the time.

Karen E Ross

Thanks, Debbie Croysdale Tasha Lewis I'm not sure I can do the mirror, as it makes me analyze as I perform - although I do like to use it to confirm the angle I use towards the camera. I like recording myself instead so I can stop performing, and then analyze. I'll definitely use that chair technique, though!

Tasha Lewis

In preparation, I practice in front of the mirror and use the chair technique (Put an empty chair in front of me and pretend that agent, director, manager or producer is sitting there.).

HB Duran

Great question! It's been ages since I've auditioned, but I do a couple of things - I practice without a mirror or camera to focus on my performance. Then I use a mirror or turn on the webcam or phone camera - I don't even have to record - it makes me self-conscious so I have to overcome it. Then when I audition in real life, I've gotten the nervousness out of the way.

Melanie Collup

I think being prepared is the best defense against nerves. If you go into the audition knowing you are prepared in terms of knowing the script, you've done the character work, you have taken care of your appearance (i.e. chosen appropriate wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc. for the role) you can focus on the audition instead of on yourself. Just before I go into the room, I take a couple of deep breaths and repeat (in my head) my personal affirmations. I remind myself that I am there because someone already thinks I have the talent and the "look" to do this particular role and I remind myself of what I am bringing to the table.

Craig D Griffiths

I am a writer. I am here to just see the issues actors talk about. But this is advice I have given before.

They want you to do well. They are on your side. Find good cast is really hard and the entire process sucks. So if everyone in the rooms wants you to do well. There is one less reason to be nervous.

Stav Spyrou

Thank you Melanie Collup preperation and deep breathing is very common. Thank you for sharing.

Stav Spyrou

Tasha Lewis Mirror technique is definitely one of the more unique ones out there, very interesting!! Thank you :)

Stav Spyrou

Craig D Griffiths Its nice to hear it from the other side - seems to be the general consensus - they want you to do well - thanks for sharing!!

Stav Spyrou

HB Duran so its like a pre-performance performance. Perform, know what I'm doing, then perform with camera on to overcome the self-consciousness then good-to-go/ready for audition. That's very cool!! Thank you

Stav Spyrou

Debbie Croysdale yes having that character there to hide behind/act behind is a lovely way to get over the nerves - cheers!

Stav Spyrou

Ken Moretti deep breathing is certainly a popular choice - brings you into the moment - much appreciated!!

Tasha Lewis

Stav, I used it a a lot when I modeled, worked on a Sign Language workshop for my Dance and Foreign Languages Program, which I would isolate myself during the weekend and sign everything.

Matthew Cornwell

Echoing what some others have touched on, nerves are good thing in moderation. They mean you care. They give you energy. If the nerves start to consume you, that’s a problem. I think it’s caused by several things. But a common reason is that we as actors tend to put the weight of our whole art into that one audition. What I mean is that we know we’re about to be “on display”. The actor fears that all of their months/years/decades of blood, sweat and tears, along with their AMAZING personality, will somehow not show up in the room. And God forbid they only give me one take to show ALL THAT I’M CAPABLE OF, then I just know I’ll fail. These are the thoughts (conscious or unconscious) that are going through our head, and they tend to snowball and become self-fulfilling. As actors, we don’t feel like we have much opportunity to actually show our craft, so we therefore tend to place too much importance on the individual audition. We can learn a lot from Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang when he stumbles into an audition. His personal stakes are very high, but he has placed zero stakes on the audition, because he doesn’t even know he stumbled into one. So he ends up giving a “brilliant” performance. If we could do that, we’d have a higher success rate in the room. And to clarify, when I say “success” I do NOT mean booking. The individual booking will often come down to factors out of your control, but the success happens when you give a grounded, AUTHENTIC read that makes everyone in the room take notice and “lean in”. Careers are built on those “leaning in” moments, because that Casting Director will bring you in again and again and will become one of your fans. Make a few CDs your fans, and you’ll have a sustainable career...

Stav Spyrou

Thank you Matthew Cornwell And great example from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - fantastic film. Heard Robert Downey Junior say on podcast that was his favourite film that hes done!

Tasha Lewis

Video in today's Stage 32 Blog covers this topic.

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