• James Stranahan

How to Protect Your Energy in the Audition Room

I’ve been to more auditions during my time in LA than I care to remember, and each one has had the potential to give me a heart attack. Seriously, is there anyone who really likes going to them? The week before an audition, you’re a jangle of nerves because you know ‘the day’ is racing towards you. The night before, you can’t sleep because you know ‘the day’ is only a few hours away. Then ‘the day’ arrives, and you feel like you’re in a state of unreality as you go to the audition, doom on your doorstep. When you finally get there, you’re stuck in a room with all these other anxious hopefuls, all of whom are probably more attractive than you are and are trying in their own ways to keep themselves in a zone so that when they walk into the audition room, they don’t vomit all over the casting director. Yes, it can be that bad. It’s a wonder that anyone has any energy left at all by the time they take their place on the X and open their mouth to speak.

With all that buildup, it’s a good idea to protect one of your most precious assets: your energy.

One of the most difficult things to manage is your adrenaline. Tap into it at the right time, and it can give you the wings you need to do a killer Hamlet and blow the director away with your soliloquy. Use too much of it before your name is called, and you might as well be Ophelia, lying lifeless in the water.

How, then, do you keep control of a force that can make or break your audition?

First, remember that your reservoir of energy is filled up - or on the way to being depleted - long before you arrive at the audition. Being anxious is a great way to lose energy, so I recommend that you get to know yourself very well. What are the signs that show you’re getting nervous? Do you start sleeping poorly? Get crabby? Stay up too late? Notice the thoughts that are going through your mind at that time. Are you worrying that you’ll forget your lines? Telling yourself that everything is riding on how you do? Negative thoughts only increase our nerves, and that, in turn, will steal your energy.

Instead, counter every negative thought with something positive. Remind yourself that you’ve practiced, you can do this, and you’re going to show the casting director something incredible. Positivity does help turn down the butterflies.

Now, let’s switch to the audition, when you’re waiting for your turn in front of the casting directors. First, arrive with a plan. Know exactly how you’re going to take care of yourself in the waiting room and why. Actors are a diverse group of people, and you’ll see all kinds of personalities around you. Some people will be talkers and discuss politics, religion, and the universe with anyone who will listen to them. Others will be hermits and will very pointedly have on headphones to block out their neighbors. Still more hopefuls will be annoying and hum a lot or pace. They’re all coping with the pressure in their own ways and protecting their own energy.

I recommend that when you walk in the door, you know what your own plan will be. If you’re someone who needs to be alone, envision the kind of person you want to sit next to and find them when you arrive. Along that line, don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from a chatty neighbor and go elsewhere. If you’re a conversationalist, that’s fine, but remember to be considerate and only sit next to people who clearly want to speak. If you’re a reader, bring a big book.

The truth is that the more auditions you go on (and you’ll go on hundreds just like I have), the easier it will become. Sure, you’re still going to have those days when the nerves come out and hit you in the face, but by and large, you’ll develop your own way of managing the pressure and feeling great when you audition. By knowing yourself and staying true to what you need in order to feel energized, you’ll feel more confident when your name is called and the door opens. You’ll be able to walk right through with a smile on your face and be ready to kick some butt in front of those Hollywood directors, who are going to remember you not because you barfed all over them but because you rock as an actor.

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