Sit or Stand?
Posted on: November 9, 2011 in category: Steve's BlogAm I really writing a post about whether an actor should sit or stand in an audition? Yup. I'd really prefer not to write such a blog as there are so many more interesting and important issues faced by actors. And yet at least once a week in the course of coaching actors of all levels, I'm asked my opinion on the matter. "Should I sit or stand for this one?", they'll ask. And presumably actors are also asking casting directors similar question in the audition rooms. "Do you want me to sit or is it better if I stand?"
While I get that the goal of many actors is to do right by the casting director, director, writer, producer, etc, I believe that, much like the decision to eat or not eat, to go the bathroom or to hold it, an actor really has got to figure that stuff out for her or himself. Have a point of view. Make a decision.
Follow my logic. You want the producers to hand you the lead role in their TV pilot, thereby placing millions of dollars, their reputations and the reputations of the network and the studio on your shoulders... and you don't know if you should sit or stand. That is absolutely ridiculous. Do whatever you want to do. Make a decision that works for you and until they tell you otherwise in the room- and they might- have a point of view about where you want your body to be located in space and time. This is the fundamental stuff of strong, active and engaged artistry.
It could be true that standing brings "more energy" to a scene (or so they say) and that might be a consideration for you, but the"Sit or Stand" question wreaks of a powerless actor wanting mommy or daddy to tell them exactly what they should to do get it right so that actor can be validated and feel better about themselves. But that's not real life. You are an actor with a unique voice. Even if you don't feel like it's true all of the time, at least pretend that you are an artist that has creative talent to bring to the table. If you're not that actor and lack the courage to have a point of view about such a basic function, why would they hire you?
The same goes for questions like, "should I bring my sides into the room or should I be off book?", and "if there are multiple people in the scene should I read everything to the reader or should I look in a different direction for each character?" There are a multitude of audition teachers and so-called "experts" who will declare with great certainty what the right answer to each of these questions is. But they are full of crap. Why? There is no one right answer. Each casting director has their own opinion, their own sensibility. It's art and it's subjective. One wants you to be off book. Another wants you to have the sides in your hand. One director wants you to improvise another wants you to be word perfect. Others still don't care one way or the other. Listen to your gut and do what works for you. If they tell you otherwise in the room, fine. Find a reason to do what they ask and do so graciously. But start with bringing your voice and your creation to the audition.
You know what's universal? What is true every audition? Talent resonates. If you're talented you can do any damn thing you want in the room. But talent isn't about how well you followed directions. It's about a unique point of view, about affecting people emotionally. They'll never know you're talented if you're waiting for them to tell you what the right way is. Talent isn't passive.
Don't be passive. You've sacrificed too much to be passive. Casting directors look right through passivity. They're seeing too many actors to stop and do the work of trying to help you have a point of view.
If you want to sit, sit. If you want to stand, stand. But have a point of view and risk being wrong.