SPOILER ALERT: It’s NOT a lack of preparation.
If you’re reading this blog, my guess is preparation is your JAM. All you’ve been doing for weeks is obsessing over these auditions.
Believe me, I get it.
I’m a NYC-based audition coach who went through the BFA audition process myself a few years back, so I’ve experienced this stressful situation from all sides.
My college audition story starts with a montage of research, coffee, and general anxiety, and ended with an acceptance letter from NYU Tisch School for the Arts.
My hope for you is that we can skip some of the anxiety and get straight to the acceptance letter. So without any further ado, the 3 most common mistakes in BFA auditions:
1. Trying to show them EVERYTHING in 16 bars
Let’s be real. For most of these auditions, you get at most two 32-bar cuts to show these colleges what you can do. And you can do SO MANY THINGS!! But if you try to show everything, you end up showing nothing. A 16-bar cut that includes legit, belting, crying, and prat-falls doesn’t make you look like a triple-threat. It makes you look like a crazy person.
Focus on telling a story with each cut. While it’s great to show off different vocal qualities, never let the technique suffocate the storytelling.
2. Aging yourself
Maybe you cry every time you listen to Kelli O’Hara sing “To Build a Home,” but that does not mean that’s an appropriate audition song for you. It can be tempting to pick a piece like this in order to show off your emotional depth, but it won’t play well in the room. Watching a 17-year-old perform a piece about motherhood and stagnation disconnects us from the experience. Even if you perform it beautifully, it’s difficult for us to suspend our disbelief and allow ourselves to go on that journey with you.
Don’t be afraid of being young! You can show off your acting chops while still performing age-appropriate material.
3. Striving for Perfection
This is where we circle back to that “preparation” for a moment. Preparation is essential, but be able to leave it at the audition door. Once you walk in the room, it’s important that you allow yourself to be present. When auditioners ask you questions, really listen and be ready to respond. Consider your responses to potential interview questions, but don’t memorize them. Rehearse your songs, but don’t choreograph the moments. Leave room for your impulses. Prepared is great, polished can be good, but plastic is never wanted.
Remember, colleges are looking for potential, not perfection. If you were ready to make your Broadway debut tomorrow, you wouldn’t be applying to these schools.
Show them that you’re talented and trainable.
Sara Glancy, AKA “The Audition Rep Matchmaker,” pairs actors with the audition materials that are going to book them the job! Think of her as a Yente for the digital age — helping actors find the songs and monologues of their dreams. Sara’s special superpower is pinpointing the holes in an actor’s audition repertoire. She then matches her client with material that is type-appropriate, unique, and, above all, storytelling-focused. To learn more about her adventures in matchmaking, check out saraglancy.com or read Sara’s blog here. And make sure to follow her on twitter @AuditionRep!