In July of 2001, I walked into the doors of my first theater job: a place that was then called Shadowbox Cabaret, a black box theater that performed sketch comedy, one-act plays, and live rock ‘n’ roll. That day, the company was in a final tech rehearsal for its summer show, so after my orientation I sat at one of the tables in the house to watch a run.
Sixteen years later, I’m still here, working as the Director of Recruitment for the same company – now known as Shadowbox Live®, the nation’s largest resident theatre company.
College and career coaches and consultants can help students and parents in several ways. College coaching helps to navigate the college search, assesses students’ goals and skills, and prepares students for the application process. Coaches are experts in what colleges look for and how they make admissions decisions.
You finish your performance, smile graciously, and thank the auditors for their time and start to head to the door. Suddenly, you are stopped and brought back to the center of the room as they have some questions for you! Before your heart starts beating out of your chest, calm yourself down by remembering this is a great thing. They want to get to know you and find out what you can bring to the program.
Many performers only focus on their audition material when preparing for a college audition. However, a huge part of auditioning for college is allowing the school to get to know you as a human being and what unique qualities you can bring with you for four years. Let’s take a look at some common questions you should be prepared to answer in the room:
Why did you pick your material?
Saying you liked it or connected with it is not enough. Let’s hope you like your material! If you truly found a connection with your song, you should be prepared to explain what that connection is. Why did you pick that song over other songs? What really spoke to you? Giving the auditors some insight into your selections allows them to learn about you and your preparation process. Read more
I had a chance to interview Greg Kunesh, retired chairman of the Musical Theatre program at the University of Oklahoma, and I gathered some amazing insight from a man who has seen quite his share of auditions! Check out some of his answers below:
What advice do you have for students entering the college audition process?
I recruited not just students, but families – this is a field or discipline that you choose because you cannot not choose it. It’s a lifestyle choice that is extremely demanding and you and your parents need to recognize that the training at the university level is just a part of the continued training you’ll do your whole life. You need not only your personal commitment, but commitment and support from your families as well. Read more
Hopefully you already know this, but: you are unique and there is no one else auditioning that is JUST like you! Sure, there may be other people who look like you and have similar qualities – but what makes you tick is completely original.
When preparing for an audition, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what they really want to see in the room. Am I the right type? Should I wear my hair up or down? Are my song selections good enough?
And I’d like to stop you right there! Of course, you need to follow the directions that the program lays out and make sure you are adhering to guidelines, but ultimately, they really want to see what you can bring to the table. They want to see your quirky qualities and learn about the things that make you…you.
Here are some ways to truly bring you into every audition room:
You’ve got your music binder, a headshot/resume and brought a parent along for emotional support – what else could you need for your college audition? Well, lots! Here are some ideas on what to bring to have your most successful audition yet:
The minute you leave your audition it’s all going to feel like a blur. You’ll begin to overanalyze every single little thing that happened in the room. Was the comment about my song choice positive or negative? Why was she taking notes during my monologue or performance? I encourage you to stop, take a big breath and grab your audition journal! Before you head home for the day, stop and take some notes on your audition and reflect on your job well done. Write down anything that felt off in the room, what felt especially excellent and definitely write down any comments the auditors might have given you. Also, make sure to jot down the name of the person who auditioned you. This is important if you want to be able to follow up with them later with a thank you note! Audition reflection is an important part of auditioning – rather than convincing yourself it went poorly, write down everything that felt amazing and use the feedback in the room to better equip you (and excite you!) for your next audition. I’m a big fan of the Memo Books by Moleskin – super sleek and fits into an audition bag nicely!
For college auditions, you’ll need to have a solid repertoire of college audition monologues. At minimum, you should be prepared with two contrasting contemporary monologues and one classical.
Contemporary Monologues are monologues from Chekov to today. Ideally, you should be choosing a monologue with modern language that was written in the last ten to twenty years. Alternatively, Classical Monologues are pre-Chekov and include (but aren’t limited to) the following playwrights: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, etc.
Now that you know the definitions: what should you be looking for in a monologue? What makes up a quality college audition monologue?
For starters, here are three qualities that define a top-notch monologue: Read more
5 Myths of the Audition Room
Auditions can be a tense and nerve wracking experience for anyone. Sometimes the worst part of an audition can be when it’s over and you start to overanalyze! Before your next audition, check out our debunking of some common myths below:
You’ve spent months preparing the perfect cut for your college audition only to have the auditor stop you before you finished. This can feel crushing in the moment – but, truth is – they may have heard exactly what they needed to hear. Sometimes auditors spend more time with students who don’t immediately “wow” them or students who appear super nervous, so they can get a better feel if they are a good fit. Read more
Here’s the scenario: You wait outside the audition room minutes away from being called through the door. You feel your nerves kicking into “overdrive” and your confidence slipping away. You know that you are prepared to do good work, but experience tells you that your nerves are likely to get in the way.
This is what you do: Give yourself one minute – one full minute – to engage your brain, your imagination, and your power of concentration to move yourself away from nervousness and into your dramatic circumstance. Living inside your story is a much more powerful, and fun, place to be than waiting in a crowded room for your name to be called. Read more
When you’re an aspiring artist, you spend a lot of time trying to get yourself in front of the right people: coaches, instructors, teachers, you name it. Getting the best guidance and training for your talent is a huge part of starting your career as a performing or visual artist. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to impress colleges, casting agents, directors, or potential employers, you definitely want to make a great first impression. And that might be easier than you think.