'It does exactly what it says on the tin - it is a really practical, commonsense guide.'

MH (Actress)

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Did we tell you that AUDITIONS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE is OUT NOW and packed with loads of great tips and advice to maximise your success at auditions?...   We did?...   Excellent! so get your copy now by clicking here to order.

Here's an interview Richard did for The Casting Website, which answers a few of the many questions asked by performers about auditioning. We hope you'll find it useful.

An Interview with Richard Evans CDG - Casting Director from The Casting Website on Vimeo.

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As we received many questions before the book was published, we used this page to answer some of them (one a week from the first Monday in 2009 until the 20th of April, when the book was published).   As the page proved so popular, and some of the diverse topics featured aren't covered in the book, we've kept the questions online and hope you find them useful.

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HELP!

Monday 20 April 2009  (publication day!)

Hey Richard! Is it really necessary to train to be an actor, have an agent and be a member of Equity to get auditions and work? I reckon I'm good enough to be a working actor without any of them, but other people have told me that they're essential. What do you think?

Andrew

Anything's possible with the right level of knowhow and determination, Andrew, but while this has been the case for some successful performers, it is rare, and with good reason.  While you would doubtless learn on the job, good training is important as it will not only develop the natural talent and skills that you already have and teach you new ones, but also help you to sustain and judge your performance, essential for television work and long runs in theatre. When up against trained actors at auditions (assuming you can get through the door in the first place) they will, in most cases, have the advantage. Having an agent is by no means essential - many performers do perfectly well without one - but a good agent will get to hear about casting breakdowns that individual actors will not and they may have the contacts ensure that you're seen (agents are discussed in great detail in the book). Lastly, while being a member of Equity is no longer mandatory to be a working performer, it is regarded as an official seal of approval and could help you if you are ever injured, unfairly treated, or if a production with which you're involved goes into trouble. Visit the Equity website for more information about joining criteria and membership benefits.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 13 April 2009

I graduated from drama school last July, I wasn't lucky enough to get signed by an agent and, like most of my year, haven't had many auditions since I left. I have read about showcases that actors can pay to take part in and agents and casting directors are invited to come and see. Would doing one of these help me get an agent and work?

Caroline

The simple answer to your question, Caroline, is who knows! There are, however, various factors to keep in mind when making your decision. Firstly, there are a vast number of showcases around these days, both featuring those graduating from schools and colleges and those for which performers pay to participate. There are usually several showcases each week (except during Christmas and Summer holidays), so it can be difficult for people to leave their offices to see them all, especially when times are busy. There can sometimes be more than one on at the same time, which makes choices more difficult and will diminish numbers. Checking the Spotlight Performance Calendar before committing may well improve your chances, as your showcase will only be on for one or two days, so avoiding date conflict, especially with the bigger schools, which more people will attend, is paramount. There are obviously no guarantees that paying however much money will achieve the results you desire, but talk it through, especially with others who have done previous showcases, and weigh up the facts, making your decision from there. 

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 6 April 2009

My son and daughter, who are aged 10 and 13 respectively, are constantly nagging me to sign them up to a children's theatrical agency, as they reckon that they would be much better than the kids they see on TV shows and want to go to auditions. How would I go about doing this please?

Sylvia

As good television acting looks effortless, I can understand why they feel like this, Sylvia, but there is a lot more skill and technique involved than meets the eye. To enable them to learn more about these, and increase their confidence as performers, and in life, I would look in your local paper, library or Contacts for locally based classes that they can attend. Stagecoach is a national organisation which has schools all around the country, teaching acting, singing and dance over half a day on a Saturday or Sunday. This is coupled with an excellent agency, which aims to get their students work in the Industry. Keep in mind that children under the age of 16 are only allowed to be licensed to work for a limited number of days every year and need chaperones and tutors, which recognised agencies are used to organising.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 30 March 2009

Hello! I am currently a swing/understudy in a touring show and am wondering at what point, if ever, I can list myself as owning a role. I have performed as one of my roles for over 5 solid weeks straight  until a replacement was found, rehearsed, and put on. After a 5 week run, can I appropriately list myself as the role on a line on my resume; or am I still only entitled to the understudy credit? Thanks

Jennifer 

While not strictly about auditioning, this is a very interesting question, Jennifer, and one that can be a source of contention and angst. Many would tell you that you shouldn't put you played a role on your CV and biography when you covered it and only played it temporarily, whereas others would argue that it is your right to do so. The only danger of doing the latter is that potential employers may know who played the role which you are claiming as your own (many people embellish credits and even lie on their CVs, invariably getting caught out) which the programme will confirm. I would therefore advise that if the programme was changed for some of the time you were on, crediting you as playing, rather than covering the role, then state you played it on your CV (you can always explain the situation if it's ever queried). If, however, it wasn't and the programme was just slipped or announcements made, I would play safe by stating that you covered the part, adding in brackets 'played for 5 weeks' or 'played x times'.

Good luck! Richard
 
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Monday 23 March 2009

A friend said that to get more auditions, I should put my CV and pics on the internet so that casting people can see them. Which is the best website for putting them on?

Dave

The internet has revolutionised casting over the past few years, and it's now vital for every performer to have a presence online. As well as possibly creating your own website, which you can do easily and cost effectively (1&1 Hosting provide simple and reliable solutions for doing this), you can register free with Casting Call Pro and put your own profile online which can be viewed by casting personnel. However, by far the most widely used service is provided by Spotlight, which, for an annual fee, will not only put your online CV onto their database, but you'll also be included in their annual casting directories. In my opinion, Spotlight is by far the best place to be seen online and a service to which all performers should subscribe.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 16 March 2009

I found the answer to Jo's question about speeches to do in showcases really useful, but I have another question. I am also graduating from college soon and will be doing a London showcase. As you mentioned, we've been told that we have to meet and chat with the people who come in the bar afterwards. What do I say?

Teresa

Good question, Teresa! The time spent chatting with people after a showcase can be far more nerve-wracking than what you actually do on stage, so the trick is to stay calm and be yourself. Keep in mind that many of the audience will leave straight after the showcase as they need to get back to their offices and if they are interested in any student(s), will make contact through the school or directly, if they have your details. Sometimes people will come up to you and start a conversation if they liked what you did (which is easier for them to do if you're not in a large group) but at other times, you will have to make the first move. If there is an appropriate moment, without interrupting their existing conversation, go up to them and introduce yourself with your full name, a smile and handshake (you can do this in pairs if it feels easier). Rather than ask if they enjoyed the show (which is common, and could be deflating if they reply negatively or launch into criticism), thank them for coming and let the conversation progress from there, asking for their name and what they do at some point, if they didn't give the information when you introduced yourself. Bring other colleagues into the group, when possible, introducing them and when the conversation draws to a close, ask if they'd like to be introduced to anyone else, taking them to that person and introducing them before politely departing. Remember, nobody should ask you to sign up on the day (and if they should try, treat it with caution and ask your tutor's advice).

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 9 March 2009

Hi Richard, I was just contacted recently for an audition and they asked me to send my headshot and resume to a certain email address. Is it appropriate to ask in the email what I should have prepared for the interview/audition? or is that silly? Thanks!

Christine, NYC


Hi Christine. No, that's not silly at all. If you have been asked to audition for a project, then you need to know as much about the requirements of the production and part as you can, so you can prepare as fully as possible. To do this, ask the people concerned  questions to obtain all the information you need (ideas for these and creating an audition log will be included in the book). Armed with this information, also do your own research about the character, if possible, and the company and people you'll be meeting, to ensure you have the edge over the competition.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 2 March 2009

I will shortly start auditioning to try and get a place at drama school in September, but before I do I need to work on my speeches. I've tried with my mum helping, but really want someone who knows more and can help me get in. Where can I find someone? Please help me soon.

Debbie

You are right to want to work with an outsider to hone your speeches, Debbie, and there are several options for you to try. First, ask your drama teacher or youth theatre leader if they could work with you on your pieces, or recommend someone who could. If not, there's an extensive list of drama tutors and coaches in Contacts, otherwise ask at your local theatre, school or library, who may be able to put you in touch with an actor or tutor in your area.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 23 February 2009

Hello Richard, I will shortly be starting rehearsals for a play, which I'm really excited about. I've been cast in a really good part for me, which I'd really like to invite casting directors and agents to see, but it's at a theatre that's more than 100 miles from London. Should I still invite people?

Emma

Good question, Emma. I regularly receive invitations to see shows that are not in London - sometimes not even in the UK -  and, much though I'd like to see the shows in question, can rarely make it. However, I appreciate those invitations and had I been nearby, would have happily accepted them. I would therefore certainly invite potential work-givers and agents to see you, mentioning that you appreciate it's far from their base, but if they happen to be in the area during your run, you'd be delighted to arrange some complimentary tickets for them to see the show. You would probably stand a better chance by also inviting those casting directors, artistic directors and agents who are based nearer to your theatre and could be just as useful to you.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 16 February 2009

I did an audition for a fringe show a week ago, which I was perfect for and it seemed to go really well. They were very positive and said they'd phone to let me know either way in a few days, but I've heard nothing. Should I assume that I haven't got the job and is it OK to ask them for feedback on my audition?

Julie

The waiting game after an audition is undoubtedly the most nerve-racking part of the process, Julie, especially when you feel it went well and you stand a good chance of getting the job. I know it's irritating when you hear nothing, even more so when you have been assured that you will, but don't despair, you may still be in the running and not have heard for a variety of reasons. They might be trying to balance the cast and need to ensure that other characters are in place before yours; the creatives may not be able to make their minds up, or agree on the decisions, or they could have offered the part to someone else, who is holding off accepting, while keeping you on hold as second choice (though you won't be told if this is the case). If the job is for you, you'll get it, and if not, something else will come along when the time is right. By far the best thing to do is to put it out of your mind and focus on other projects. As for feedback, you can ask if you really feel the need, but often there are no specific reasons to give, just that the decision went another way, as they may have seen several people like you who could easily play the part in question. Try not to worry and be sure to learn and improve from your experience.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 9 February 2009

Hi Richard, Really looking forward to reading the new book, audition advice is always eagerly lapped up! Anyway, I have a query which I hope you may be able to help with. For singing auditions it is advisable that you have a number of different songs in your repertoire to cover different styles However, in acting auditions, how many audition pieces should we have prepared, and what style or genres should they include?

Mark

An interesting question, Mark. While speeches aren't requested at that many auditions these days, I would recommend having several at the back of your mind that you can draw upon if and when a director asks (you will be in a minority if you do, and possibly stand a greater chance of getting the job). These should be in all genre, classical and contemporary, with characters you could feasibly play at the given time and that are perhaps transposable into your native accent and those you do convincingly. Work on this, especially if you know that the part for which you're auditioning speaks in a certain dialect, though if you have time to prepare, learn something new in that dialect from a similar play, whether or not it's requested. If you go and see a play which contains a part that you could easily play, get hold of the script and work on any suitable speeches for future auditions, and productions of the play.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 2 February 2009

Hi Richard, I will shortly be graduating from drama school and taking part in my first public audition, our showcase. I have been given lots of conflicting advice about right and wrong pieces to perform and was wondering if you could please give me any guidance on the best ways of getting noticed. Thanks.

Jo

I get asked this question by many people every year, Jo. While there's no magic formula, my advice to you, and everyone else in your position, is to find a short piece that is not only feasible for you to play (perhaps using your native dialect) but will also make an impact on the audience in whatever time you have. Choosing something funny, rather than serious or tragic, might be advantageous, and originality will pay dividends, as many speeches (and songs) are heard time and again at showcases.  As there will doubtless be many of you performing in a short space of time, making your mark is of paramount importance, so keep your energy levels up while on stage. Also, unless your director insists you do otherwise, wear something that's distinctive and memorable throughout, including at the curtain call and when you go to meet and chat with guests in the bar afterwards, to ensure you're easily recognisable both on and off stage.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 26 January 2009

Dear Richard, Following on from your advice about understudying, I have a question. I am covering in a play at the moment, but have yet to go on and no public understudy run is planned. Is it worth inviting casting directors like yourself to see me if I find I'm going on at short notice and, if so, what's the best way of doing this? Cheers

Mike

Good question, Mike! I would say it is definitely worth making contact, even if it's on the day. While it's not always possible, I have seen some excellent performances by understudies when they have contacted me and I've happened to be free on the night in question. It will, of course, be easier if you know that you'll be on for a few nights (if the principal actor has been signed off for several days by a doctor, for instance), but whatever the case it helps to be prepared. The best and most immediate form of contact is either by email or telephone, though only do this during office hours (Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, avoiding calling at lunchtimes) and making sure you can be easily contacted if people wish to accept your offer of tickets. To prepare for when the time comes, make a group or folder now of the casting directors' email addresses to enable you to contact them quickly, giving as much notice as possible. You could also make a list of their office phone numbers and keep copies at home and in the theatre, asking a friend or your agent to make the calls if you have no time to do so. Finally, check with your company manager or box office that you will be able to get tickets for your guests when the time comes, either complimentary or for which you have to pay (these are tax deductible against your income and an excellent career investment).

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 19 January 2009

I overheard someone talking about working as a 'walking' understudy and swing. I was unsure what these terms mean, but didn't like to ask. Could you explain please? Also, is it worth applying for jobs as an understudy? Thank you in advance.

Andrew

Thank you for your questions, David. A 'walking' understudy means a performer who is contracted to understudy a part, or parts, in a play or show, without having their own role to play and going on stage, so sits in the dressing room until an actor they are covering is off. Some performers enjoy this, sometimes combining other work (such as writing) when they're not on. Others find it frustrating, not doing the thing they love, night after night, despite getting paid and being in work. A swing is employed to cover several ensemble tracks (parts) in a musical, which requires knowing each artist's individual vocal lines, dance moves and acting parts. A good understudy or swing (also known as a cover) is hard to find and some actors do little else but cover others, going from job to job. It is an easy trap to fall into, and there is no guarantee of being promoted to the actual role if anyone leaves or it leading to bigger and better things. Unless this career path is one you want to follow, beware of accepting too many understudying jobs, holding out for roles, or making sure that another part in the show concerned is also on offer.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 12 January 2009

Dear Richard, I am new to show business and am a strong singer and dancer with years of training. I was wondering how I would find out when the long running west end musicals re-cast and how to get an audition as I don't have an agent yet.

Rebecca

An interesting question, Rebecca. Most of the long running shows have a major recast once a year and will hold auditions some weeks, or months before the new company will be rehearsed and take over. Sometimes they will see people for all the parts, without knowing which members of the existing company will be staying or going (so being seen may not necessarily guarantee that there will be a job this time). It is important to do your research, so go and see the shows which interest you, making note of the part(s) or ensemble track(s) most suitable for you - buying a programme will help with this. It will also contain the name and perhaps a biography of the show's casting director, whom you can then contact to find out when the next auditions are scheduled and when and how you should submit your details. Contact details for most casting directors can be found in Contacts or on The Casting Directors' Guild website.

Good luck! Richard

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Monday 5 January 2009

Could you help me please? I wrote to a theatre company for a part in a play that I'm absolutely perfect for a few weeks ago. I haven't received a call asking me to audition and I'm gutted. What else can I do? I know where the director lives, should I contact him personally?

Dan, London 

Thanks for your question, Dan. This is a frustrating problem, which every performer will experience at some time in their career.  Keep in mind that many people will have heard about this job, so the company may have been inundated with submissions and, like you, many of the other applicants will be convinced that they are absolutely perfect for the part concerned.  By far the best thing you can do is to follow up your letter with a phone call to whoever is dealing with the casting, politely explaining the situation and asking if they could please fit you in to their list.  Don't forget to tell them your name, something a surprising number of people forget to do!  If you are offered an appointment, that's great, but if they can't see you this time, accept it without letting your disappointment or frustration show, asking if you can keep in touch with them in the future.  As for contacting the director at home, I would avoid doing this, unless you know him well, as it may be viewed as over pushy and desperate, and could also be seen as undermining the casting person, which may affect your relationship with them in the future.

Good luck! Richard

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