Auditions can be one of the most frustrating and unnatural places to give a performance. You are expected to perform in front of people you’ve never met and who have the power to make or break your acting career. If this wasn’t bad enough, you will often be given instructions just minutes before you are expected to perform.
Despite being in this intimidating, unnatural environment, your ability to ‘pull it out of the bag’ will often determine the success of failure of your acting career. Though it may seem unfair, it is the same for everyone.
The question is, what are you going to do about it?
Speeding Up the Process
One of the most challenging elements of an audition is having to give a convincing performance without the preparation time that you would usually have. For most acting roles you would have at least a couple of hours to get into character. This would allow you to develop a background story for your character and gradually acclimatize yourself to your character’s situation. As a result you would be able to give a convincing, developed performance.
So, how can you give a similar performance with only a few minutes prep time?
What is ‘Personalization’?
Personalization is a technique used by method actors to help them give ‘real’ performances without the need for imitation or inspiration. By simply fueling your performance with real feelings and real emotions, you are able to give performances that can be more convincing than if you had months to invent these feelings and emotions.
Let’s imagine a common scenario. You are in an audition and you are required to play a character who’s in a complicated relationship with a member of the opposite sex. You are required to play a scene in which the relationship is coming to an abrupt end. Now, this would be very difficult to prepare for in just a few minutes, especially if the actor opposite you was someone you’d never met before. However, by using personalization you would project the personality of someone from your own past onto your fellow actor. By carefully and accurately projecting the image of someone you’ve been in a doomed relationship with and recalling your own feelings at the moment it all came to an end, you will be able to give a thoroughly authentic performance at almost a moment’s notice.
This is a great technique for any acting scenario but it’s particularly useful for auditions. One of the best things about this technique is that it can be completely internalized. This means that those that see your performance won’t know that you are using personalization to fuel your performance. They won’t know whose image you are projecting onto your fellow actor and they won’t know about the raw, evocative emotions that you felt as you gave your performance.
All they will see is an actor giving a great performance with only a few moments to prepare!
Brian Timoney is one of the world’s leading authorities on method acting. He has been working in the acting industry for over 20 years and has worked in TV, radio, film and theatre.