PREPARATION IS EVERYTHING
There are many workshops, YouTube videos, and books for actors on how to overcome that unpleasant feeling in your gut when you’re in front of that scary monster, The Casting Director, or when actually performing in front of several cameras. There are many wonderful methods that work to ease that feeling of panic and make you feel less scared. I want to share the most important method I use for overcoming that anxious, scary feeling.
Know your lines.
Yes. The key for me is to be prepared. Memorizing lines is a bit difficult for me. I don’t know if it’s age-related, but whatever the reason, I have to work harder than many. When I book a role and get a script, I read it in its entirety. I then take the pages with my scenes and highlight my lines in yellow. I read my lines…out loud…over and over again. I then take one page at a time and learn the lines on that page. I go to the second one and learn those lines…and so on. I put them all together.
If I'm memorizing lines for an audition and have very little time, as in a cold read, I will memorize the first, last, and middle lines after I have gotten the idea of the scene and made my choices. I hold my audition sides in my hand and glance at the lines only when necessary.
When I feel I have the lines somewhat to memory, I take my little digital recorder and read the other character’s lines. I leave blank spaces where my lines would be. I then play the recording and speak my lines in the blank spaces. I speak my lines without punctuation. No emotion.
I do the same for an audition when I am given the sides to a script and it’s not a cold read.
When I think I have my lines down, I continue playing the tape…over and over…until I know them forward and backward.
Yes…with all the foregoing, I have still dropped a line on occasion. It happens. I’ve watched it happen to famous actors as well.
Knowing my lines forward and backward is a great benefit since it allows me to be creative and work off the other’s dialogue rather than be concerned about mine.
One note on auditions...when you leave that audition room, leave the audition behind. It does no good to lament about why you didn't do something different. I like to practice what other professionals actors do...that is, simply do not get anxious over the outcome of the audition since it is out of my control. I have seen so many actors excited about the outcome of an audition, only to be disappointed. Professional actors understand rejection is part of the business.
Not getting stressed about an audtion also allows me to have fun.