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Audition Series: A Note on Overdone Material

Hello, readers and theatre-makers! The fabulous students of the Downstage Arts Teen Cohort are gearing up for their university theatre program auditions. Hooray!

Today, we start a series of blog posts dedicated to breaking down auditions. Auditions, whether for a theatre program or for a performance opportunity, can understandably send actors into panic mode. The stakes feel high, and the nerves kick in. But fear not! DSA is here to help students feel confident about their material and themselves! All of our self-esteems should benefit from ample practice time, but what if one is uncertain about the material one has selected for the audition? How can one feel one hundred percent that one has chosen the best material? Let’s dig in.

There is a glut of audition advice all over the internet. One may find many pages of search engine results that would include several websites after typing the SEO keywords "theatre auditions” in the search bar. One should quickly discover guides meant to steer performers away from “overdone” monologues and songs. Sometimes, after reading through a mountain full of other people’s opinions, the burden of so much conflicting advice can send a person into a bigger spiral of confusion. Please, allow me to share DSA’s point of view when it comes to overdone material.

All of us have struggled to find material about which we are passionate, just as all of us have been told that the monologue or song we have chosen has become shopworn due to overuse in auditions. But, trust us, there is more material out there! As an actor, you should become capable of finding the spark in any story that you tell. Ask yourself how you will bring the same enthusiasm into similar material? If your heart must perform an overdone piece, then here’s something to consider: DSA believes that every student has the potential to bring new, unique magic to each piece that excites them. Maybe an overdone piece is waiting for you to breathe new life into it with a fresh perspective. The trick is to tell your version so that it stands out from every other person’s version. Show them a version of the story that they have never seen before. The people who are watching you might be pleasantly surprised and impressed by your bold new choices!

We teach our students to both lead with their gut and make strategic decisions when it comes to selecting audition material. Although the decision process can (at times) feel like a challenge, our students have always been able to find material that excites them and respects the audition guidelines. Stay tuned for our next bit of audition advice, and remember that you and your imagination are the magic piece to the audition puzzle!

As always, Downstagers, you are you, and that is your artistry.

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