Monday, October 31, 2011

Overcoming My Auditioning Fears by Elizabeth Zeff

Although I’ve been acting for several years, and consequentially auditioning for shows, I – and I’m sure I’m not alone here – have had a fear of the age old auditioning process. It is a scary thought: to go somewhere intentionally to be judged, inspected, and digested. It can be overwhelming and even paralyzing. I decided to take Freehold’s Auditioning class because I’d never, anywhere, heard of a class focusing just on the art of auditioning before. It makes so much sense, though! There are certain things you just don’t know, until you do; it is a class specifically for the ins and outs of that process.

In my short time working with Annette Toutonghi, the instructor for the Auditioning Class, some of the things I learned seemed so obvious it was “Duh”-inducing, but once they were stated simply out loud it made so much sense. Annette told us that the auditors WANT you to SUCCEED! They want you to be the right actor for them. What a concept! I’m sure I knew this, but hearing someone in the business, who has been on both sides of the auditioning table, tell me this with full confidence was pleasing. In our first class we expressed our fears about the process. We wrote them down on a white board, discussed them – and then immediately addressed the answers to them. Mostly all the answers were straightforward, mostly along the lines of ‘be confident, be warm, and be ready to roll with the punches’.

After all the hypotheticals and theoreticals had been worked out, we began practicals. This, I think, was the most beneficial for me. Just to get the practice of coming into a room with warmth and self-assurance, going through these actions and interactions in different kinds of scenarios built my confidence way up; with every class came the opportunity to improve and come into myself comfortably.

Our second to last class was set up like a general audition. Actor and Director, Tim Hyland was our auditor for this class. I remember years of sitting before an audition and with such anxiety, getting nervous and shaky. I remember that jolt in my stomach when I heard “You’re on deck.” With every audition that intense emotion is less invasive, but this time I was hardly nervous at all. I didn’t have a nagging dread or fretful anxiety, I felt that healthy kind of nervous – the kind that keeps you on your toes. I felt confident in my work, my ability, and my knowledge of the process that I was about to embark on. That same night we had a singing for auditions workshop and I did it! Several years ago that would not have happened. No way, no how. After this class, I must say, I felt a healthy abandon that I’m sure all actors must have to harness.

Along with all the very useful, straightforward “do’s and don’ts” that we learned, I also was very pleased to get poignant acting tips for my audition monologues. Annette spoke very directly to little shifts that greatly improved my connection to the material and my delivery of the monologue. Getting one-on-one time to work on my monologue, sides, and cold reading skills with Annette was definitely one of my favorite parts of the class. It was an invaluable experience, because she gave me small but significant pointers that brought to the forefront a depth, truthfulness, and purpose to my monologue that were only murmurs before. Her advice is something that I can apply to all my work from here on out.

The goal that I articulated on the first day of class was to take the fear and questions out of the process, to build a procedure to rely on, and strengthen my confidence through practice. Seven weeks later I feel as though I have accomplished that goal. This was a special, amazingly useful experience and something that I am sure will continue to help me as I carry forward in my life and my career as an actor.


Christine Marie Brown will be teaching Auditioning at Freehold this Winter Quarter, 2014 starting Saturday, February 1st at Freehold. Registration for winter classes is now open. More information about Freehold, can be found at

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