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Tips for General/Unified Auditions
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Tips for General/Unified Auditions


The following article has been reprinted with permission from the author Isaac Butler a Brooklyn based director and writer of the blog Parabasis .  


There's some great information in here so please, read on! 


Having sat through a few EPAs in my day, and now a mega-cattle-call over the weekend at VCU, I would like to post a few tips for anyone doing a Cattle Call. The kids at VCU worked really hard, and many gave really great auditions. And there were people called back (and even cast, I think) who broke at least some of the tips listed below. I just feel like there's some really basic things that if people knew them it would make their lives (and ours) a lot easier. Auditioning is really hard for everyone involved, so I offer these little tips to make things easier:


(1) Avoid the subject of rape, or monologues that overtly sexualize violence, or performances of monologues that make violence sexual. Roughly 60% of the women did monologues with sexual assault as a subject matter. Roughly 40% of the men did monologues with sexualized violence as the subject matter. It's a bad choice for a number of reasons. The first is explained as point #2, the other is simply that... well... the subject matter is really upsetting and vile, and presented without context like in an audition monologue, my gut reaction is going to be to reject it which means that listening and taking you in as an actor is that much harder.


(2) Don't do a monologue whose stakes and emotionality you can't achieve in under a minute. EPA monologues are two minutes long. The VCU cattle call monologues were one minute long. That's not enough time to suddenly be grieving your dead father or talking about the time that you almost got raped. This will necessitate you forcing, and we can tell when you're forcing.


(3) Don't make a choice in a monologue that goes against the play the monologue is in This is a tricky one, but if you choose a monologue from a play, there's a chance that the auditioner has read (or even directed!) the play. You don't want to make a choice that makes for a really cool monologue performance but is counter to what is going on in the show. How to avoid this? Read the play!


(4) Avoid a lot of cursing, but not for the reason you think. At the League auditions in DC they always say avoid monologues with a lot of profanity. I thought it was because they were really conservative. But it's not that. Swearing is easy. It's easy to perform curse words (not to mention a lot of fucking fun!) Because it's easy, we on the other end of the table aren't sure if you're really acting or not.


(5) Subtext is good. I think the desire to impress auditioners leads frequently to a complete abandonment of subtext in audition monologues. Everythings put on the line, the proverbial heart on the sleeve. The actors who audtioned and gave it their all, while also clearly working on some sort of subtextual underpinning of their monologues were the most impressive to me. It's tricky... you want to see someone really go for something, yet also hide something and hold a little back at the same time. Hard to describe. But I'm just saying, working on what's going on underneath the monologue is still really important.


(6) It's okay to be funny and/or entertaining. Comedy is difficult to pull off. Comedy rooted deeply in character is even harder. It's okay to go for that instead of talking about how you wanted to slit that bitche's throat.


(7) Don't do a movie monologue. Duh. The one exception to this was someone who did a monologue from a cult classic comedy from a few years ago. We all collectively admired the balls of that particular choice. But that's an exception that proves the rule. Movies are written in a different vocabulary and for a different purpose than plays. They're meant to be performed completely differently, and that tension shows no matter what your performance is like.


To learn more about Isaac Butler and Parabasis or to see this article in it's entirety visit his blog at and  respectively.  Special thanks to Mr. Butler for allowing us to reprint this article!

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