10 Audition Pet Peeves

Brad Pontius

Today I want to talk to you about auditions. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect. As much as we want to think that auditions are the beginning of something great… Well, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their faults. Some of these are annoying things that happen because of the actors, and some of them are things the people casting you do.

1.)    The Over-Anxious Ones

Look no one blames you for having really high anxiety over auditions. They’re a big deal and you want to make a living doing this. Even at community theatre levels or high school ones, you want to be part of the work. That’s why you’re here. But then you have… them. You will notice this species of actor from the way they clumsily fumble with their binder, keep muttering lines under their breath and generally look like they’d rather be jumping out of a plane right now rather than be anywhere near here. No one’s blaming you… but that doesn’t mean it’s not a pet peeve to see someone take it too far and become very secluded in the holding room and give you a dirty look if you come anywhere near them. Everyone else is in the same boat, pal, there’s no need to make it that big of a deal.

2.)    The LOUD One…

I can usually forgive the poor actors who get nervous. The ones I loathe though? The loud ones in an audition holding room. They’re a bit more rare, especially when you get into professional auditions (because there’s a lot more riding on it there). But you always have a chance to run into the one guy who forgot to warm-up before coming or didn’t have the time and just has to rehearse his singing next to you. Or they find a friend who came to the same audition and they’re both just distracting because they’re being too loud. I’m sorry, no. Go away. Down the hall or outside if you have time. We have to prepare too.

3.)    “I’ll do it later…”

This one’s connected to auditions, but definitely doesn’t happen IN auditions. Because it’s about the actors who, despite being talented keep making excuses as to why they won’t go. “I would love to go to this audition, but I have to babysit all week.” So why are you here? Yeah, financial stability is great, but if you’re not pursuing your passion and the work you love with a white hot passion then what’s the actual point? Definitely take care of yourself; but also take the initiative. Theatre is a risky business and you need to gamble sometimes. Extra points if that person keeps talking about the awesome school they went to or the awesome productions they did and you still never see them at auditions. Make time for yourself and your career – no one is going to keep handing you roles just for existing.

4.)    The Bored Casting Director

I want to say this carefully, because the people casting the shows do a lot and work very hard and have to sit through possibly hundreds of auditions. Just sitting there watching. But on occasion it’s really demoralizing to see that same person casting a show just… not paying attention to you. Because it’s probably really early or really late in the day and they’re just not totally there. It’s really hard for an actor, who probably has ten other auditions lined up that day, to keep a stiff upper lip when this happens.

5.)    The Messy Actors/Areas

You won’t always have an audition in the equity building or one of the big studios that rent out rehearsal spaces, unfortunately. Some places have standards, and others… don’t. And sometimes they just can’t afford to have a really nice space for auditions. But it’s awful to have to stand in, say, a crowded cellar or church basement that is just absolutely cluttered. The noise is all wrong because sound can’t travel, you have a considerably smaller space to do your material, and everyone looks cramped. It’s even worse when there’s a large group showing up for auditions and they have to shove you all into an even smaller holding area… Ugh, it’s the worst.

6.)    The After-Audition Wind-Down

You know what’s more annoying than having nerves before an audition? What comes after. It’s nerve-wracking to go into them, but afterwards? Holy hell. Sometimes you can just put them away at the back of your mind because you have a million other things to do. But some of them, the big ones, you might experience the horrifying anxiety of worrying about getting a part. There’s a reason that one of the most famous showtunes revolves around the phrase “God I hope I get it. I hope I get it. How many people does he need?” Because you are going to be biting your nails praying that this will be your next big job. Because you have bills to pay, you have to have the security of being in the show, or maybe even just the comfort of being part of the Theatre again (I can’t tell you how many auditions I’ve been to where I’ve just prayed to get a part so I could be involved in a production again.) Theatre is addicting, sometimes you just need your fix. But the after-audition wind-down is full of worries.

7.)    “He’s staring at me. Why is he staring at me?”

Don’t look at the director during auditions. Please. I’m sorry, but it’s so annoying to have someone constantly making eye contact with someone who isn’t acting in the scene. That’s not their job. They don’t have the time or energy to give you something back during your monologue and they have to do this another fifty million times today. It’s very rude to assume that they are willing or able to invest into your scene and it’s so awkward! Don’t do it, I’m begging you!

8.)    “Oh my God she came in costume.”

Listen to me very carefully. Unless the audition listing specifically asks you to come in a costume (it will not) do. Not. Come. In. Costume. Shortly after I got out of college I went to a more local audition. Despite it being a paid part, I got to observe someone coming into the audition for Rocky Horror… dressed as Frankenfurter. It was appalling to see, honestly. It was funny too, but if you come into auditions dressed in costume then you’re taking away from the Director’s vision for the character and saying “This is exactly how I will look in the show!” Plus it’s distracting for fellow actors as well as the production team watching.

9.)    Don’t be a Teacher’s Pet

You know the type. There are plenty of charismatic actors out there who love flashing a trusting smile with some honeyed words. Sometimes they’re just friendly, but there are a few who try to cozy-up or even flirt with the person in the casting room. “Oh, I love your suit today… I’d really love to meet you over dinner and pick your mind on your favorite show. Maybe over some wine.” It doesn’t work. Don’t do it. It’s not only unprofessional but it also says a lot about your character in that moment and it’s probably not going to ingratiate you towards the Director at all. They’re more likely to make a mental note that they can’t trust you. Especially if you end up not getting the part and giving them the cold shoulder. I hate that utterly.

10.)  Don’t Be Apologetic.

Personally though, the worst one is the actor that comes into an audition… and apologizes for it. And heaven forbid if the director apologizes for doing his job either. This is our business. And it requires a lot of confidence. You might be nervous, but saying “I’m sorry” after, before, or during your short time in the room it’s completely mind-numbing. Why’d you come in then? Have pride in your work, and you should be working hard to have gotten in the room in the first place. Take a breath, smile all the time and do your best. There’s no reason to sully the moment by apologizing.

So what do you consider the most annoying thing or person in an acting audition? Let us know!