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Sticking the Landing
... or "How to Give the Best Audition Possible"

Gymnasts call it "sticking the landing" — completing the vault or routine by landing with both feet firmly in place. It takes more than just physical discipline; it takes psychological conditioning, commitment, and an absolute love of what you're doing.

Anyone who has ever set foot in front of a table full of disinterested-looking folks and sung a song or acted a scene knows how artificial the situation is. It's not like anything else in life, not even performing. And that artificiality makes it much harder to stay disciplined enough to maintain a cool head under what seems to be a lot of pressure.

The following is a list of tips, collected over the years from various sources, that may help you do more than just survive the audition process. With some practice, you can stick your audition landing.

  • Be Prepared. Do your homework. Learn about the play your auditioning for. Listen to recordings. Read the text. Do your research. Go to the library. Not only will you know better whether or not you're right for a role, the knowledge will give you the confidence to do better. When you're asked to make a quick choice during a cold reading, you'll be better equipped to make it a good choice.

The folks who are auditioning you want to see you at your best. Or at least they should.

  • Everyone Wants the Same Thing. You want to do the best job auditioning that you possibly can; and they want you to do the best job auditioning that you possibly can. Try to remember that this is not an adversarial situation (even though it might seem that way sometimes). After you've been auditioning for a while, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they're out to get you. The folks who are auditioning you want to see you at your best. Or at least they should. If they don't, you probably don't want to be working with them anyway.

  • Put Yourself In Their Shoes. Don't forget that the people you are auditioning for are hearing dozens (if not hundreds) of performers during the course of the audition. So it's crucial that you choose your audition material wisely. Make sure that you don't pick material that's done too frequently. No matter how spectacular your rendition of "Tomorrow" is, they just don't want to hear it again. Instead, pick material that's appropriate for the project you're auditioning for and do it in a way that is uniquely your own.

    Take your time ...

  • Operate at Your Own Pace. Auditions can be pretty frenetic and there may be pressure for you to hurry up. You might find yourself awash in the sea of neuroses of your fellow performers. But you have the ability to get on your own wavelength and stay there. Don't get caught up in anyone else's frenzy, even if it's the people running the audition. Of course, it's not a good idea to keep anyone waiting for you. But taking a few seconds to calm yourself before you step in front of the auditioners won't offend anyone.

  • Still Your Soul. Do whatever it takes to make yourself calm. It's sometimes valuable to "take your emotional temperature" prior to auditioning. Take a walk, meditate, say a prayer, or come up with your own chill-out rituals. And don't wait until you're at the audition to come up with something. Instead, have your soul-stilling strategy planned well in advance.

  • Flex your performing muscle ...Get Physical. Get a reading on just what's happening with your body by asking yourself some questions: Is my neck tense? Am I breathing heavily? Are my knees shaking? Then, once you've identified how your nervousness has manifested itself physically, you can do what you need to do to relax those parts of your body where your stress has accumulated. Sometimes this might mean doing some stretching; other times it might mean just being conscious enough to relax. But here's the best part. Quite often, when you relax yourself physically, you also have the additional fringe benefit of relaxing emotionally and psychologically.

  • Don't Second Guess the Auditioners. The most effective strategy is to be the best you that you can be. Don't try to figure out what they're looking for and then try to be that. That can only come off as fraudulent. Instead, be true to who you are. You're much more likely to attract the right kind of attention that way.

  • Throw It Away. Don’t forget — no single audition is going to make you a better person. It's a job you're auditioning for, not self-worth. And even if you're auditioning for something big, investing so much in it can only undermine you.

  • Just Do It. You've already done your homework and preparation — you've studied, taken lessons, exercised, educated yourself. At the audition, it's time to let go of all that and simply give it your best. As the slogan says, just do it.

Do you have a favorite tip, trick, or pre-audition ritual that you'd like to share? Send us an E-mail at and we'll post it here.

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