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College Audition Do's and Don'ts

Strengthen your college auditions and wow the judges with these tips and tricks!

Dance audition. Image via YouTube.

When it comes to getting into a college drama program, auditions can make or break your chances. The main goal of this audition is for the judging committee to get a sense of who you are, what strengths you have to offer, and if your skills are where they need to be to do well in their program. (No pressure, right?!)

Here are some tips on how to strengthen your college audition—both so you can wow the judges and so you know what things you really shouldn’t do!

Audition don’ts

  • Don’t perform a monologue without having first read the play the character was in. Reading the play will not only give you a better idea of your character’s personality but where the monologue fits into the whole play.
  • Don’t have a choreographed routine, whether it is for a song or a monologue. (If you need to dance, it will be during the dance audition.) This isn’t to say you shouldn’t practice—you definitely should. But just loosen up, go with the flow, and do what feels natural for your character. Otherwise your movements could look robotic.
  • Don’t perform a piece with obscene content in it. Remember, your choice of monologue will give the judges a good idea of your character as well as your talents. And you’re trying to sell yourself here as an asset to the college.
  • Don’t try to act like your favorite performers. The judges can tell, and, besides, they are trying to assess your performance, not someone else’s.
  • Don’t show up in costume. It might be tempting, but you want your face, voice, and body to sell your character and talents—not your wig or sparkly pants.
  • Don’t argue with the judges if/when they cut your performance off. They had a reason for doing it, and it doesn’t automatically mean they didn’t like you. (For that matter, remember to treat the whole audition team with respect, including your accompanist!)
  • Don’t perform a monologue written for a character significantly younger or older than you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the school or the program, but do make sure they’re appropriate questions for an audition/performing arts setting. (For example, don’t ask about meal plans!)
  • Don’t perform a monologue from a television show or movie. It can make your audition seem unprofessional and distract your audience, especially if it’s a well-known piece.
  • Don’t stare at the person conducting the audition during your audition. It can psych you out, and it might make them uncomfortable too. Find a spot right above their heads to look at instead.

Audition do’s

  • Do research the schools you are auditioning for and make sure you know what they expect from your audition. Speaking of which...
  • Do make sure you are prepared for whatever your audition entails. For example, for singing auditions, make sure you bring your printed sheet music in a binder and that it's clearly marked where you want to begin.
  • Do avoid audition monologues and songs that are overdone. There are a lot of options out there, so look for the monologue or song that best shows your personality.
  • Do pick a monologue you can perform in any circumstance. You never know if you’ll end up sick the week of your audition or if you’ll end up not getting enough sleep the night before.
  • Do feel free to use the whole stage or audition area. Do whatever feels natural for your character.
  • Do remember to be on your best behavior during the non-performing parts of your audition too! You want to show you’re a good fit for the college when you’re off stage as well as on. Arrive on time, speak clearly, be polite and respectful, and smile and say thank you at the end of your audition.
  • Do dress appropriately. That means nice, simple clothes that work well for your performance (like dance wear and shoes for your dance audition). Nothing too low, too tight, or too short. Again, you are trying to sell yourself here, and you won’t impress the people judging your audition if you keep tugging at your clothes.
  • Do keep your hair out of your face, especially for any dance auditions. Not only do they want to see your face and expressions, but it’s easy to get distracted if your hair gets in the way.

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