A Visiting Director for GSA, Resident Director on West Ends shows Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sunset Boulevard, Russell Labey has spent many hours in audition rooms. As a director for the National Youth Music Theatre he discovered and trained thousands of young actors among them Jude Law, Sheridan Smith, Ben Barnes and Jamie Bell. Here he gives his DOs and DON'Ts.
Come prepared, be yourself are the two best bits of advice for an audition.
How do you be yourself?
Well, if you are not usually prone to asking questions you already know the answer to, don't start doing it in an audition. It won't get you noticed in a positive way. Too obvious. In fact, trying to be noticed is a mistake. If you're doing that you won't be being yourself. Most tutors won't want to spend the next three years trying to train a socially unskilled attentionseeker.
This is your audition remember.
Asking for explanations if confused is perfectly OK. You've paid for this chance, you're entitled to be treated with respect. Putting yourself forward if volunteers are asked for shows confidence, this is good. Filling that awkward silence that often follows the question, “Who wants to go first?” with a no fuss, “I will” might come as a welcome relief to your examiner on his fifth session of the day.
Improvisation and Group exercises.
Those who listen to and support their partner or other members of the group in improvisation exercises often stand out far more than those who dominate. But stepping in and taking the lead if the thing is sagging is also smart and helpful. There's nothing wrong with taking the front row but maybe not every time. So already a whole host of what appear to be contradictions and I'm only just getting started. You have to make these judgements, be brave and stay true to yourself and you'll probably get it right. The word ‘true' is one I'll come back to.