Audition speeches are a curious phenomenon. You're required to act without the usual essentials (costume, props, etc) and crucially without the buzz of an expectant audience; just a bunch of pen-wielding critics, writes Simon Dunmore.
In order not “to go naked into the conference-chamber” * (audition room), you need to spend a good amount of time selecting your personal ‘arsenal' of ‘nuclear' audition speeches. And this is before you spend time preparing them for the ‘audition-chamber'. [* Aneurin Bevan – Founder of our National Health Service – arguing against unilateral nuclear disarmament at the Labour Party conference of 1957 — to the profound shock of many of his Socialist colleagues.]
The ‘nuclear' analogy is, I believe, a good one. Like the multiple options the creators of nuclear technology explored before they made it work — you'll need to travel down many frustrating cul-de-sacs in order to find what's ‘right' for YOU.
Length. An audition piece should be no more than two or two-and-a-half minutes long (that's roughly 300 words — depending on pace). Two minutes (or less) can be very effective provided that it contains all the parameters listed elsewhere in this article. And, around one-minute can work!
How many? The important thing is to have a good range of audition material so that you've got a library to choose from to suit each given circumstance — not just the usual minimum requirements of one ‘modern' and one ‘classical'. I suggest a minimum of half-a-dozen (‘classical' & ‘modern') — plus selections from those lists that some insist upon. I realise that each takes time to prepare for audition, but the more acting-journeys that you travel, the more you will gain insights into how acting really works — for YOU.
Read the full published article in issue 2 of The Drama Student Magazine.