With a cold reading you usually come in the audition room unprepared as you’ve seen the script just minutes, or even seconds, before. On the other hand, when you audition with a monologue you generally have all the time in the world to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until you’ve got it down pat. Most of us would much rather take the safe and secure option of what we know, but here’s four easy tips to help make that impromptu cold reading a path to casting success for you:
1) Make BIG choices.
Casting agents and directors expect you to be fully capable of reading the words on the page. It’s not a literacy course. So forget about the words! What matters is the choices you make to support them. Show how that character would move and speak. Make strong emotional choices. Those fellows behind the casting table already know the script, they want to see what you bring to the characters within it. It’s a cold performance not a cold reading.
2) Focus on BIG changes.
More often than not you’ll be asked after your first reading to do it again, but differently. A director might say, “Let me see you do it with more anger towards the end.” When you perform it the second time around, put all your energy into focusing on this one note. Take it as far as you can (within a reasonable boundary). Many times the director isn’t looking to see if you get it right, but they’re trying to gauge if you have range and can take direction.
3) Look up.
The script can become problematic because it forces you to look down. In an audition you’re selling yourself, so give them the goods! Make sure to look up for as much of it as possible. It helps to keep one hand on the script and keep your thumb sliding down as you move further along. That way, when you look back down you know about where to find your line. Practice this and it’ll come in handy.
4) Don’t be afraid to ask for more time.
Making big choices matters, so give yourself as much time to make them. Use your own judgment here, but if you need more time then there’s no harm in asking for it. Many times a director will take that as a sign that you’re willing to put in extra effort. And if they don’t have any extra time to give you, then show them how willing and ready you are to meet their needs and go when asked.
These four helpful tips can help you through anything from a community theatre callback to a Disney audition on Broadway.