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Coping with Audition Nerves

You finally got the audition slot you wanted. You've practiced your monologue over and over, dressed your best, and given yourself plenty of time to get to the audition. Now you're here, your appointment is in five minutes-and your heart is pounding, your knees are shaking, and you can't breathe. How do you get relaxed, yet maintain your focus?

The first step is to realize that the folks in the audition room want you to be good. If they can find the perfect actor for each role, they've done their job well. So your job is to open up and let your best self come out.

I know this is extremely tough in a situation where you feel like you're being judged. It can help if you think of your audition as a mini-performance-as if the casting person(s) are the audience, looking forward to being entertained, and you are the same actor you are when you've rehearsed a role enough to feel totally confident when you get up on the stage and perform it. This way, you're there to share yourself and your talents and skills with the audience, instead of feeling like you're being judged by those who are casting. Think about what it is that makes you love to perform, and use that feeling in your audition.

The second step, which you have to take actually prior to the audition, is that of being totally confident about your presentation, from the moment you walk in the door and introduce yourself to the moment you say "thank you" or "Have a great day" and walk out the door. Know what kind of impression you want to create-and here, I'm not suggesting you put on a false front, just choose what you feel are the best aspects of yourself to present. And KNOW YOUR MONOLOGUE-the best monologues are those you've loved from the beginning, and have worked on over and over until they're almost second nature. When you know a monologue this well, you'll be discovering new things every time you do it, and this keeps your focus on enjoying your performance, even in an audition. If you pick a new monologue and audition with it the next week, of course you're going to be nervous, because there's too much to think about: lines, beats, character, other characters, feelings, etc. Knowing your monologue well allows you to take a deep breath and tell yourself, "I know this-I've done it hundreds of times. It's not such a big deal." A monologue you know this well feels like your favorite old T-shirt that you love to put on.

If you can make a habit every day of practicing relaxation exercises such as stretching, deep breathing, meditation or visualization, this will help your audition nerves as well. And finally, remember that you can do an incredible audition, and still not get the role for one reason or another. That's a fact of the business. Maybe you didn't look like part of the family they were casting for a film. Or maybe the producer's brother had his eye on the role you wanted, and, well, he's the producer's brother. You may never know why you didn't get the role, but you always have to believe that you're good enough to play the role, that you would have done a great job. If you dwell on your audition and always tell yourself you're not good enough, this prophecy will probably fulfill itself.

Let the audition go, the same way you let a performance go after it's done, and look forward to the next one. Believe in yourself, that you have what it takes-and let that show through in your audition. Break a Leg!

By Katherine Mayfield Author of "Acting A to Z" and "Smart Actors, Foolish Choices"

Courtesy of ActingBiz.com