Green Shirt Studio

5 Tips for Season General Auditions

Director at audition

We are in the thick of Chicago’s theater audition season. Many companies are holding season generals over the next few weeks and I thought I’d take a little time to lay out some tips on making the most out of this year’s auditions.

  1. When you submit for a season general audition, put your headshot and resume into the same PDF file and name it “{Your Name Here} – Headshot and Resume.”
    This is not a sexy tip, but it makes a world of difference to the poor sap who is stuck combing through submissions and scheduling auditions. It also just makes good sense. As I have been that poor sap scheduling auditions more than once, I can tell you from experience that many, many, many actors send headshots named things like “Smiling blue dress” and “dsc3000525.jpg”. This just makes it seems like you haven’t taken the time or put any thought into the person on the receiving end of your email.

    Similarly, having to open up two files (one headshot and one resume) just takes more time, and if, as most companies are starting to do, your submission is being put into a digital filing system, you are just creating more work on the other end. Combining your headshot and resume into a single PDF with an easy-to-understand name is just best practice.

  2. Pick audition material that suits the theater’s season
    We actors all know the season general audition call by heart: “Please prepare two contrasting monologues…” But just because most theaters use the same language in their calls does not mean you can treat them all the same when you audition. A mistake I hear actors making again and again is thinking they have a tried-and-true monologue audition package that is going to work in most settings. This just doesn’t make sense. Just because you have two monologues you like that show off qualities in your work does not mean they are good pieces for every particular call.

    Just like every day job-seekers use different resumes to highlight skills relevant to particular jobs, actors need to make their monologues relevant to a theater’s upcoming season. This means you have to do some research to see what shows are on deck for the company and, even further, I recommend you strategically pick audition material to match where you think you might best fit in their season. Realistically, you are usually not going to be right for every play in a season, so knowing the roles you are probably going to be in consideration for helps you pick audition material to suit those parts.

  3. Leave them wanting more
    In the best case scenario, monologues are effective at showing a few things that you can do well. Monologues by no means give a comprehensive understanding of your work, and casting directors understand this. As one casting director told me once, “monologues are not about acting; they are about creating a brief illusion of acting.” This can be frustrating as an actor. We want to show the casting directors what we can do! We want directors to see how worthy we are of the job! As a result, time and again, actors err on the side of doing monologues that are too long. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP! Forty-five seconds to a minute max per monologue is a good rule of thumb. It really is plenty. You don’t get cast from the monologue itself anyway; it is simply a first-round event. Leaving the auditors wanting a little more gives them incentive to call you back.
  4. Do your research and learn about the company’s work
    This is just about being a good theater citizen. Nobody wants to feel as if they are just another random stop on your audition extravaganza. Knowing a little bit about the company and who you’re in the room with creates the opportunity to connect genuinely with the people you’re hoping to work with. Seeing a show the company is currently producing gives you an authentic means to connect with them about their work. It also gives you a sense of whether or not you actually want to spend time doing their kind of work. Not every company is a fit for every actor, so getting to know a company before you audition for them goes a long way to prevent you wasting your and their time.
  5. If you had a good experience at the audition, send a thank you note
    This may sound a little desperate or old fashioned, but the truth is, it’s really nice to receive a genuine note from an actor saying they enjoyed meeting you or had a good experience with your company. You don’t need to be obsequious. Simply follow up with the companies you felt good auditioning for. It takes a little time, but you are building relationships and relationships take attention. Just like doing your research and seeing a play or two by the company, following up with a thank you just gives you another opportunity to meaningfully connect with the people who are working alongside you in the community.