2015 Unified General Auditions – Auditor Survey results

Every year we allow our auditors to give feedback on what they liked/disliked about the annual Unified General Auditions.  Over 50 auditors filled out the survey – this is valuable information for future UGA actors, containing information about how best to prepare for your audition.

While this survey contains a lot of great information, each specific opinion should be regarded as exactly that – one person’s opinion.  Getting positions from 50 different casting directors means the results contain many contradictions – for example, one auditor may say “never do Shakespeare at the UGA” while another may say the exact opposite!

Organizations included in this survey: ACT – A Contemporary Theatre; Arouet; ArtsWest Playhouse & Gallery; Aurora Theatre Company; Bainbridge Performing Arts; Book-It Repertory Theatre; Bridges Stage Company; Cinesauraus; Centerstage; Dukesbay Productions; Fantastic.Z; Harlequin Productions; Independent Directors (5); Intiman Theatre; Island Stage Left; Kitsap Forest Theater/Mountaineers Players; Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center; Live Girls!; Lungfish Productions; MAM Mitchell Artists Management; Pacific Play Company; Seattle Repertory Theatre; Stone Soup Theatre; Swinging Hammer Productions; Taproot Theatre Company; Theater Schmeater; Theatre 9/12; Theatre Battery; Thriving Artists; Thumbnail Theatre; Twelfth Night Productions; Village Theatre

Auditor attended this General to cast for projects occurring between: (Please check all that apply)

March – July 2015

50%

August 2015 – January 2016

72%

2016 or beyond

42%

We keep headshots/resumes on file for currently unscheduled projects.

66%

 

How many 2015 UGA actors potentially fit a future project of yours?

10 or less actors

16%

11-25 actors

38%

26-100 actors

28%

We keep all or most headshots on file

16%

 

What were the most surprising, enjoyable, memorable moments from actors?

  • Someone did a part of Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in The Universe and it wasnt lame or boring or generic! I enjoyed it very much even though its understood it is advised not to do pieces that are overdone like that one can be. Advice: If its overdone- make it yours, make it unique or don’t do it at all!
  • A rendition of Red Fish, Blue Fish that was actually quite well done.
  • An actor doing a great audition on his knees with a puppet.
  • [actor], from beginning to end. That was a great audition.
  • I always enjoy those who have an unusually witty or original audition piece. But I also know that a dull piece does not mean that the actor is unsuitable or weak. All it means is that it’s a dull piece.
  • I enjoyed seeing actors who were confident and prepared for their auditions. This was the case for mostly all of the under-18 actors.
  • I enjoyed the times when an actor chose to perform a piece that was not from a play, such as from a book or a piece of prose.
  • I loved the kids!  So many of them were very well spoken and their pieces were age appropriate.
  • I was surprised with how many actors made a joke, or told the auditors a little bit about themselves before they started their piece as a way to connect.
  • I was very impressed with the way actors handled being cut off by the timer. Almost every individual reacted with class and grace, smiling and making a nice transition to their exit. Very cool.
  • Impressed with the overall singing talent
  • Loved seeing super confident/bold choices whether they worked or not.
  • [actor]’s “All My Sons” piece – something really happened. [actor] – presence, talent and authority.
  • Moments that were simple and well thought out. It’s great to see actors being courteous to each other as well as the staff, volunteers and accompanist.
  • Nothing really stood out for me.
  • seeing people succeed, fun monologues, the kids
  • The kid’s were often more professional than the adults
  • The moments when actors were able to make genuine human connections with the audience and be comfortable in their own skin and in the space.
  • The Waiting for Guffman monologue.
  • The youth were great! Really a great way to end off the week – adults were also good.
  • there preparedness and politeness
  • There were a few young actors that displayed a wider range than their demeanor indicated.
  • There were some beautifully prepared pieces that showcased the talents of actors I had seen before, but had passed over. Lots of growth in the last year
  • There were some well-rehearsed, well-performed, and well-chosen auditions this year. I applaud those who were prepared!
  • Those actors who knew how to work a room.  Not just give a performance but to entertain the auditors too.  It helps.
  • Those that entered with grounded and personable presence. Those that had a great introduction or a witty anecdote. Those that had remarkably well-rehearsed auditions.
  • Too many to list.   So many talented, attractive actors – actors with a sense of humor did stand out.  Having a sense of humor and fun in auditions (even if your piece is quite dramatic) is very important.
  • When they were trying to make something happen.  Also when they were listening to the room and their imaginary partner.

What were the most common mistakes made by actors this year?

  • not relaxing in the intro/taking time with the intro as it isn’t timed
  • not hitting the back wall with your voice. i need to see you can control your projection even in intimate, dark moments that arent yelling
  • not preparing well enough for if you get so nervous you blank
  • do not choose a song you cannot hit the high or low notes of when you are nervous
  • doing a song when you aren’t proficient enough to do a singing audition. there is a lot of competition and warbly or flat singing doesn’t help you. also, take the time to ask the accompanyist to help you with the first note before you start”
  • Actors should have a plan or goal that they want the audition to do–not just get hired. Those that have a clue of what they want to get out of the audition seem to have a clearer, more specific, audition.
  • Choosing a long piece and then rushing it, to fit it in the time slot.
  • Doing the second piece with the same energy and vocal levels as the first.
  • Choosing horrible monologues.
  • Choosing the right piece is a high science; it was clear some actors hadn’t had an skilled observer (vocal coach, acting teacher) help them prepare. In addition, it became quite clear what pieces are favorites of some of our local college faculty.
  • couldn’t find exit, going over time
  • Finding the exit!!
  • That, and choosing pieces inappropriate for their type.
  • Finding their way out of the room after their audition – more of a logistical thing than acting though.
  • Getting angry if they were over time and not ending their audition on a positive note
  • going over
  • Going over time, choosing accent pieces, singing when not confident about singing, exiting in the wrong direction.
  • Going over time.
  • how little people moved! Don’t stand in one spot and generically gesture. a lot of people played safe. i want to see  brave work! use the floor, use the chair, set yourself apart, you are special so show it
  • I noticed many actors’ two monologues were not contrasting in most ways. It was as if they were giving the same monologue twice, just worded differently.
  • I was amazed at how many actors didn’t choose something that was “in their wheelhouse”. I wanted to see more of the actors doing their own particular brand of magic was. Those who did that REALLY stood out. Their presence was stronger and they had a much bigger impact, in my opinion.
  • Inappropriate attire, an inability to find the light and lack of risk taking.
  • Lack of objective/palpable action.  Need to take the stage with strength and energy.
  • Many actors went needlessly over their time limit.
  • Missing the exit.
  • none
  • Not coming in dressed appropriately. When this happens I’m looking at the clothing and not the actor. Men: sneakers, sweat shirts, sweat pants, and clothing that is wrinkly aren’t good choices. Women: Overall, you did a lot better than the men.
  • Everyone: Please don’t bring props into your audition. Paper, shampoo, costume changes, keys, these are all distractions. If you need a prop to do the monologue, choose a different monologue. Please don’t go over time. Work your songs with a pianist before your audition. Please do not give us backstory on what is happening in your monologue.
  • Not knowing where to exit! 🙂 Overall, I was impressed by the actors I saw.
  • Not knowing where to exit.
  • Not listening. Many actors seemed like they came over-rehearsed, which created emotionless performances.
  • Over time.
  • Head shots that look nothing like the actor.
  • Ridiculous resume formatting –> EXTRA WORK SHOULD NOT BE LISTED ON A RESUME.
  • Inactive monologues –> SO MANY STORY MONOLOGUES.
  • Dialogue Monologues –> You can’t make an entire monologue out of a conversation just by eliminating the other persons responses and “”using your face to react”” It doesn’t read the way you think it does.
  • Picking pieces that did not show their individuality.
  • Quiet slates; affected classical monologues; inactive story monologues; non-singers trying to sing
  • Revealing nervousness.
  • Running too long & rushing through without taking time between pieces
  • Selecting monologues that were so over the top we could not identify their skills or repeating information we already had.
  • Singing when they hadn’t rehearsed with an accompanist. Singing when they really dont’ have sufficient skill.
  • Singing with the piano and realizing that she had no idea where she was – and then told everyone that she had never practices with the piano accompaniment.
  • Too many female monologues revolving around sex, dating, and relationships. It would be great to see a less sexualized selection of work from female artists.
  • Too slow
  • Wearing black against a black backdrop.
  • Rushing through pieces that were too long.
  • Not knowing their own type.
  • Mumbling their introductions.
  • What was the name of your second piece?
  • Playing to imaginary characters on stage, instead of imaginary characters in the audience.
  • Running over time.
  • Where to exit the stage.

What were the most overused pieces, playwrights, plays, done by female actors?

  • Anything by Shakespeare. Frankly, the majority of the theatres in the room do little to no Shakespeare. So perhaps two contrasting modern monologues would be better?
  • As always, Helena, Hermia and Juliet.
  • breakup tirades. Not funny. Just hostile.
  • Food Chain; Neil Labute; Teresa Rebeck
  • I did not feel pieces were overused.
  • I did not keep track of monologue choices, but did notice a couple repeats. Nuts is always over done.
  • I did not notice any overused female pieces.
  • I would like to see young female actors stop playing whining victims. If you are going to do it – then remember to show some strength.   Vulnerability is great but what is more interesting is showing women of strength.  That gets my attention.
  • John Sayles’ Passion Fish or at least the portion of it that includes “I didn’t ask for the anal probe.”
  • Kids. NEVER do Sally Brown again!
  • Nikki Silver,  Viola (12th night), Neil Simon – songs were a great variety, however
  • none
  • None in the 2 days I saw
  • Not much that bad this year
  • Not sure.
  • Nothing of note.
  • Orange Flower Water
  • Shakes Ophelia, Orange Colored Sky.
  • Sonja, Vanya, Masha and Spike
  • Orange Flower Water
  • There was not one monologue that seemed to be overused this year.
  • There was some overlap but it didn’t bother me.
  • -theresa rebeck (playwright- though i recognize she has a lot of pieces that end up working well for auditions)
  • -henry iv
  • Thought the balance was better than most years
  • Too much Shakespeare. Bring something new to the table or at least make your Shakespeare memorable.
  • Topics of: dating, sex, relationships

What were the most overused pieces, playwrights, plays, done by male actors?

  • All My Sons; Gruesome Playground Injuries; Picasso at the Lapin Agile
  • amadeus
  • didn’t have any that i remember
  • Fairly diverse
  • Generally a good variety, nice selection of 20th century classics (Miller, O’Neil)
  • Gruesome Playground Injuries
  • Lonely Planet
  • Richard III
  • Heard a lot of Shakespeare from older men, other than that not much of note.
  • I did not feel pieces were overused.
  • I did not keep track of monologue choices, but did notice a couple repeats.
  • Lonely Planet
  • Lonely planet
  • Lonely Planet, All My Sons, Death of a Salesman
  • none
  • None in the 2 days I saw
  • Not sure
  • Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Jack from Jack and Jill
  • Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are dead.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: stuck in a box
  • Steven Dietz’s Lonely Planet, Amadeus, Arthur Miller (especially All My Sons)
  • The Jesus/Sheep monologue. Anything by Shakespeare. Frankly, the majority of the theatres in the room do little to no Shakespeare. So perhaps two contrasting modern monologues would be better?
  • The Shakespeare Henry’s and John’s.
  • There was not one monologue that seemed to be overused this year.
  • There was some overlap but it didn’t bother me.
  • Too much Shakespeare. Bring something new to the table or at least make your Shakespeare memorable.

General comments you wish to make to actors who may want to do the general auditions in the future.

  • dress professionally as if you are going on a “fun” job interview. i get frustrated when i see jeans in and a tshirt.
  • smile and be yourself in your intro. robotic or brooding intros doesn’t make me feel super excited to work with you no matter how awesome the audition was
  • have grace and if you stumble just keep on going! we are more excited to see you recover from a mistake than to crumble because of it
  • put the chair back!
  • don’t languish in transitions between pieces but make some sort of clear delineation so we know its the other piece beginning (Do not say “scene” or make a hand gesture! lol)
  • be specific, embody the imagery without indicating, leave room for “feeling the feels” of your piece, BREATH, tell the story. Its not your job to be clever or be memorable at all costs. Show us your artistry!
  • A little goes a long way. If you show us a short piece in which you are truly living, thinking, breathing, listening, being – that resonates far more than trying to do a big long story, or trying to perform the final climactic monologue of a play in its entirety.
  • All I care about, personally, is if I felt you were genuine. If you can make me feel something in 2 minutes, you win.
  • Ask advice on your audition selections from artists you respect- a quick phone call or short email can make all the difference. Play to your strengths.
  • Be fearless and take more risks.
  • Be sure you can sing what you bring – and don’t end on a high note if you can’t reach it consistently.
  • Build your beats, know what you want.
  • Don’t panic
  • Don’t sing…. unless you can sing. There were several good actors that I wrote off after hearing them attempt to sing.
  • good work
  • Have fun.
  • I always love to hear those who can sing take the opportunity. You can cut time and energy loss from monologues by removing questions or “so”‘s from the top of monologues.
  • I have attended all days of TPS auditions since 2006.  I see many of the same people every year and it surprises me often how little they have grown.  This is because so many actors do not stay in class and stretch their talent.  Actors are cast in their strengths, not challenged to grow.  So year after year, I see the same actor with a new monologue making the same mistakes.  Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles actors always remain in class; they would look at these Seattle actors as dilettantes.
  • If the limit is two minutes, aim for 90 seconds. Work your song with a pianist before you come to audition. Dress professionally. These are like mini job interviews, and the first impression is really the only impression.
  • If you do Shakespeare, don’t assume your job is done when you think you understand it!
  • Don’t dress in provocative clothing and expect sex to get you a job.This goes for choice of pieces, too.
  • Hone your transitions so that they are clean, precise and identifiable.
  • Choose two DIFFERENT kinds of pieces – comedy is a good bet for one, as we can see your timing.
  • Don’t sit in a chair for your entire monologue.
  • Wear shoes you can move in, but don’t look frumpy.
  • Keep your intro. clear, strong and to the point. We don’t need background on either you, your present work or the pieces. We want to hear what they are, however!
  • Smile, speak clearly, show us you can move and find monologues that really speak to you.
  • TIME your pieces!
  • Don’t swear at us.
  • Entertain us with your pieces.
  • Finally, remember that we want you to succeed!
  • As for general notes, it seems some actors are being told not to do Shakespeare. We think that is a grave mistake. We can tell so much from his monologues and are sick of watching endless TV/film auditions of the “…um…er”” school of acting masquerading as live theatre auditions! If you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything.
  • It’s a great opportunity! Even a 2-3 minute taste of your character and range is better than blindly sending headshots to casting calls! We will for sure be utilizing our reference from the UGA in the future for projects!
  • It’s about you in the moment. It’s not about the piece. If you have to rush to fit a piece into its time, cut it shorter. We want to see you engaged, in the moment.
  • Do 2 or, even, 3 pieces. They don’t have to be long (see above.)
  • A “contrasting piece” means a contrast in you, in energy, power, persona, however you want to define it. If you present the same energy and vocal level in both pieces, there’s no contrast, even if one was Shakespeare and the other Shepard. You have to find the inner difference and make it visible and audible.
  • Just go for it and have fun. We all want you to do well
  • Monday is better than Tuesday is better than Wednesday is better than Thursday.
  • Monologues more than a minute are just boring; we know what we are getting within 30 seconds.
  • Also, musical folks: scenes matter. Auditioning with just a song makes you seem unprofessional and makes one wonder if you can act.
  • Pick music with a simple accompaniment- you never know a pianist familiarity with a piece EVEN if you think it’s a common well known piece. Set yourself up to succeed. We like it when you make us smile and laugh. Yelling at us can be tricky.
  • project, annunciate, and be original
  • Relax!! It’s just an audition. We want to see you do well! Don’t get caught up in whether or not you fit a role, we’ll decide that. Just show us YOU!
  • Spend less time warming up the crowd – we don’t need to know details of your life or why you’re doing what you’re doing. Just take a beat to center yourself and act like you would in a production.
  • Swearing is fine in context of the play, but just because you have cursing in your piece does not make you appear diverse. Don’t start over – power through it.
  • Take the stage god damn it! Too many seem apologetic.
  • Try to find those pieces which are REALLY a reflection of YOU. Not pieces which are perhaps hip, current or conventionally chic.
  • We want you to succeed! Please prepare your pieces and time them. We would rather you are under time than be cut off. Please don’t choose to sing unless you are a very strong singer and have practiced with an accompanist. Don’t use props, costumes, or mime, all of which take away from your performance. Don’t use an accent (including “Shakespeare voice”) – we want to hear YOUR voice! Don’t choose monologues about acting or the casting process, these are overused and we want to see you play a character that’s not an actor.
  • Do choose two pieces that are contrasting. A humorous piece will make you memorable, and a dramatic piece does not have to be violent or evil. Pick pieces that you connect with.
  • Don’t move all over the stage. The X marks the best lighting for us to see you perform. Wear comfortable clothing and avoid high heels, tight pants, and short skirts/dresses which can be a distraction. We are watching you move when you enter and exit the stage.
  • Introduce yourself confidently and succinctly. Don’t overexplain your pieces or chat about yourself.
  • Again, we want you to succeed and show us your best work. Actors who are prepared and confident really shine.
  • Wear clothes that you can move in. We are not looking for people who look glamorous, we want to see artists who can use their instruments effectively and with intention. Teetering on heels serves no purpose. Do something that makes you absolutely shine. Choose pieces that you know you can knock out of the park. If we like what we see, we will know that you can be versatile and play different roles.
  • Your biggest impact usually comes during your first 15 seconds of the monologue. Try not to choose a piece that takes too much time to “warm up.”

Every year about 10% of actors go over their time limit (2 minutes for non-union, 3 for AEA/EMC.)

I don’t care if actors go over time

10%

I don’t like when actors go over time, but TPS should not penalize

74%

TPS should penalize these actors in future General Auditions

17%

 

  • A professional can work within a time limit. My personal experience is that the ones that go over time limit have been the least professional in their auditions.
  • As long as they stop when time is called I don’t mind, it only bothers me when they keep going despite time being called.
  • I appreciate that they get called off the stage, so they don’t elongate the day. Getting called off the stage is probably penalty enough – no need to further penalize them and make them feel even worse. Hopefully they won’t do it again. Perhaps if certain actors go over year after year then there may be some sort of penalty like lower priority in the next year.
  • I don’t think you need to penalize for going over time. They’ve already shot themselves in the foot!
  • I think its should be a soft line–couple timess they were stopped just at a peak moment. Others of course could have been stopped after a minute…
  • I think setting industry standards is important, it shows the actors that do well in researching the audition information, well-rehearse their pieces and follow direction well. I leave the penalty in the hands of TPS.
  • I think the pressure it puts on people can unnerve them if they are going to penalized. BUT. I also think its very telling when people go over time in regards to preparation and regard for auditors time. So while TPS shouldn’t penalize, actors should be aware that it doesn’t look good.
  • I would be interested in how much overtime they go, but in general a little bit over does not bother me.
  • I’m conflicted – I don’t want to hurt people, but it seemed that the number of folks going over this year was higher than other years I attended. To me this shows lack of preparation and/or following direction properly.
  • It never seems aggressive or intentional when actors go over on time. One this year, it was clear, couldn’t hear the timer.
  • It shouldn’t be difficult to time a piece. Going over shows poor self-discipline and is frankly a good sign for auditors. Actors should be self-aware.
  • It’s really remarkable how much you can tell by just one minute. (Not suggesting that you limit the time further.) I think all the actors should be able to work within the time limit.
  • Maybe all actors who go over time should receive an email with data and quotes gathered from this survey that shows them how much it is disliked by the auditors.
  • This just shows preparation and practice – it shouldn’t be too hard to stay within the parameters.But I don’t know if you need to penalize.
  • TPS doesn’t need to penalize them. They’ve penalized themselves.
  • What are you going to do? Slap them around afterwards? Charge them a fee? Really. Actors have it bad enough they should not be penalized! That said, I think the time limit should be there – and asking them to stop is enough punishment enough. Geez.
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