Saturday, September 1, 2007
An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performing artist. It is used in the casting process to demonstrate the level and range of a performer's talent, and functions as a job interview for the performing arts. A typical audition involves the performer displaying their talent through a previously-memorized and rehearsed solo piece: for example, a monologue for actors or a song for a singer. For actors, the audition piece is typically not from the show being considered; an actor wishing to be cast in Hamlet would not likely do a monologue from that play. However, most performers do have a range of audition pieces and select something appropriate; an actor auditioning for Hamlet would have a dramatic Shakespearean monologue ready, and not perform a monologue from an Oscar Wilde comedy, or a contemporary playwright. Similarly, a singer auditioning for a role in a musical theatre production would not, unless instructed otherwise, sing opera or country music, and a musician auditioning for a seat in an orchestra would not perform rock. Occasionally a musical theatre audition may require the performer to sing something in the genre to which the musical pertains. For instance, someone auditioning for Destry Rides Again may be asked to sing a country-western song or a rock song for The Rocky Horror Show. Some auditions involve cold reading, or performing a script that the actor is not familiar with. Likewise, musicians may be asked to sight read music at various levels of difficulty. This is similar to many dance auditions, in which the focus is on learning new choreography, rather than showcasing prepared work. For smaller roles in a large production, mass auditions are held at which many inexperienced or aspiring performers, most without agents, show up. These are popularly known as cattle calls, since the hopefuls are often kept together in one large room like a herd. The musical A Chorus Line begins with one of these. American Idol also auditions its aspiring vocalists using this technique, since there are so many auditions. Although an actor's talents comprise crucial criteria in the casting process, an almost equal amount of attention is given to an actor's "type," (a combination of personality, looks and general casting intuition) as required for a particular production.