Lots of auditions are taking place around Chicago right now. Are you going to them? I realize that some students need a little guidance on where to start looking for auditions, so I decided to put a list together of some of the places to find theatre and film auditions in Chicago. I first posted about this in 2010, but thought I would update it a little bit and post it as a reminder to get out there and audition!
If you don’t have the money to afford some of the membership-only places, don’t worry. I’ve included a bunch of free sites below to get you started.
Here are the 9 best places to find auditions in Chicago:
1. Actors Access – For film, commercial, theater, etc. It is free to set up a profile (though it will cost you $2 every time you submit electronically). One of our readers, Valerie Meachum, made this comment back in 2010: “Spring for the Showfax subscription. The $65 annual fee includes unlimited electronic submissions; I’ve yet to have a year where I didn’t submit enough in the first three months to make it worth my while. The other Showfax perks, like access to sides, are less useful outside the LA market, but Chicago projects do occasionally make use of them.” Thanks for the tip, Valerie!
2. Mandy.com – For film student and independent film auditions. It is free to set up a profile on Mandy.com, and free to submit yourself for projects. I love free and love this site.
3. Theatre in Chicago – A great free place to find Chicago theatre auditions.
4. The League of Chicago Theatres – Another free place to find theatre auditions.
5. Chicago Improv Network – A free message board devoted to all things improv (and sketch comedy) in Chicago. You will need to join CIN, but it’s free. Check the “Improv Classifieds” for improv, sketch and some theatre and film auditions.
6. Facebook & Twitter – Become a fan or follow of your favorite Chicago theater companies and casting directors, many of whom post their breakdowns/auditions as status updates, like this Facebook fan page for Paskal Rudnicke Casting. There are also many Facebook groups that you can join that are full of industry professionals and post auditions. A couple that I belong to are Acting Midwest, Midwest TV, Theatre, Film Actors & Crew, and Chicago Auditions & Show Info/Theatre Chat.
7. Craigslist – Ok, some of the postings on here can be sketchy, but once you figure out what a few of the sketchy ones look like, you learn to tell the difference between the sketchy ones and the legit ones. (Hint: I’d stay away from anything that uses the words “artistic” or “tasteful” and pairs it with the word “nudity,” but that’s just me.) Check out “Gigs” –> “Talent” and “Jobs” –> “TV/Film/Video.” Cragislist is also a great place to find part-time work so you can make ends meet around your busy audition and performance schedule. Don’t ever go to an audition that makes you feel uncomfortable, and if you’re not sure whether it’s legit or not, bring a friend to help judge the situation. We never need to put ourselves in an unsafe situation for any job. Now, I don’t mean to scare you. I have gotten many legit jobs on Craigslist and personally, I have a very special place in my heart just for Craigslist.
8. Actors Equity – Type “Chicago” into the Actors Equity Casting Call search engine to view the Equity auditions in Chicago. Or, try this advice from my friend, Bear Bellinger: “You have to make sure to look in the ‘Central’ section, though, rather than just searching for Chicago. Otherwise you’ll miss out on all of the theaters just outside of the city.” Good one, Bear!
Note that if you are a non-Equity actor, you will not be able to make an appointment so you will need to “crash” the auditions, which means showing up before the first audition starts, and getting your name on a list, and waiting around (sometimes all day) just to get a chance to maybe audition. Bring snacks and a good attitude, and be prepared to sit. A lot. But it’s worth it. Every non-Equity actor should have the experience of crashing at least one Equity call. Best to do your research, though. Some theaters don’t like when non-Equity actors crash their auditions and they say so on their website, so visit the company’s website before you decide to do this. Also, by checking theater’s website, or Theatre in Chicago’s or The League of Chicago Theatres’ sites, you may find out that the company will be holding Non-Equity Generals, and if that’s the case, it’s best to audition at those rather than an Equity one.
9. Backstage – For film, commercial, theater, etc. This is the one I left off in my last blog entry, because at the time of writing, Backstage wasn’t really in the Chicago market. Now it is. It is free to view the auditions, but in order to find out more details or to submit, you have to be a member of Backstage. Membership starts at $11.66 a month, although at the time of writing this, it looks like they are offering a promotion of $9.99 for the first month. It might seem pricey, but I know a lot of people that use Backstage.com regularly and really like it.
I’m sure there are others that I could add to this list, but this these are the ones that I check on a regular basis, and you should, too. If you know of great sites I’ve neglected to include here, drop me a line by commenting below. Please help your fellow actors out by leaving any comments with your personal experiences using any of these sites, or pro tips that I might have missed. By checking these sites often, you should have many auditions to go to and will be busy, busy, busy!