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Audition or Casting?

Even though many people don't realise it, Castings and auditions are slightly different. To generalize:

The Audition

An Audition is a general call (usually for theatre work) for, say, '10 - 13 year old boys to play an 11 year old, who can sing and dance'. At the audition, the young performer will be expected to demonstrate his skills to a panel of people involved in the production. He might be shown a dance or taught a song, that he will be expected to learn fairly quickly, and will have to repeat what he has been taught either with a group of other boys or on his own (or both!) Often he will know whether he has a recall, or not, on the day. If through to the final selection, our young man may have to wait for a few days (or a couple of weeks) to hear whether he has succeeded. If not, he may not hear anything at all.

Billy Elliot Auditions April 2004, Our thanks to CBBC Newsround                              Billy Elliot Audition April 2004: Our thanks to CBBC Newsround

There are two types of audition. The Open Audition, where the part(s) are advertised in papers, on TV, Radio or even the Internet. Anyone can attend, whether represented by an agent or not. Some producers like these, to introduce fresh talent to the scene. The Closed Audition, where the producers only see people submitted by agents. This way they have a better chance to employ experienced or more reliable talent.

The Casting

A Casting is a little more specific, and is more often than not, for various filming jobs. The Call will be for, say, 'an 8-9 year old black girl, soulful and empathic. At the beginning we see her full of the joys of life, but we watch her change following the move to the south. Must be able to do a natural American accent'. For this casting the young lady in question will usually be seen on her own or with one or two other children, and she will often just be talking to the casting director and a video camera (maybe with an assistant in the room). Occasionally she will be given a script to learn, to then act out to the camera as best as she can. The tape will be sent off to the director, or producer, with all the others at the casting, and then, as is often the case I'm afraid, she may never hear a thing again! If the director or producers DO want to see her again, the Agent may get a call within a few days, or even weeks, with a date for the recall.

Sometimes a child may be asked to attend a workshop casting. These castings will usually be for a group of children, and they might be asked to take part in a variety of scripted or improvised scenes, or situations, or simply to chat about themselves in a group. In these cases they like the child to be as natural as possible, as they are possibly looking to cast a character similar to the one present in the child in the first place. The added bonus to some of these workshops, and all casting sessions in general in fact, is that there are some casting directors, who use these to cast more than one production and many remember children that catch their attention, for another time...

Castings are usually arranged through an Agent.

Attending your Casting or Audition

When you finally get to go to that Casting or Audition that you have eagerly waited for (ok, so you only heard about it last night...!), here are a few pointers that you will need to remember and that may make the day a more enjoyable experience for your child...and you!

  • Turn up on time or even a little early if you can - if you arrive early, DONT get uptight if others are seen before you. They may have earlier appointments, or have been previously asked to go away for a coffee or something, to come back a little later...
  • Try to take the minimum number of people (only the auditionee if you can). Some castings are done in VERY confined spaces, and the tiny waiting room is already packed with hopefuls. When you turn up with the whole family in tow, it can cause lots of problems, not to mention the stress level it puts YOU under!
  • Go prepared, but light. Take a little notebook, or something that has your childs info in it, for your reference. You will often have to fill in a form that asks for your childs details - age, height, colour of hair/eyes, waist measurement, agents name,address, phone number, previous experience etc. (especially in advert castings)  Go with a map and a pen, even a comb or some wet wipes might come in useful, but try not to load yourself down.
  • Make sure your child arrives looking tidy and clean, comfortable and relaxed.
  • Take a drink and possibly a snack, and something to do. You could be waiting for a while!
  • Wear clothes that suit what you are doing. Comfortable clothes for a dance or singing audition or  for a casting, something that might suit the role you are after.
  • If you are unable to make the Audition or Casting, let your agent know as soon as you can.

It is important that you treat everything with professionalism. This is basically a job interview that you are helping your child attend, and there can be hundreds of applicants!! Looking or being tardy or uptight doesn't help anyone, and can go against your child. Then the day will prove fruitless - and expensive. (All the fares and incidentals are paid by you. You don't get to claim them back) Be dedicated, reliable, calm and efficieint, and you are more likely to be remembered next time.

Try not to get too put off by large numbers of people at a casting, they may be casting more than one part, or even more than one job!

What are They looking for?

Confidence, Talent, but more usually, someone who will fit the role they are trying to fill!

Confidence: A child who is gripped by fear, the moment he steps out onto the stage is no good to a director trying to put on a brilliant production! All auditionees who demonstrate shyness or nervousness in any form will be given a polite thank you, to never be called again. A child looking the adults in the eye, speaking with a clear confident voice throughout, and answering questions without worry is much more interesting - and more likely to get a recall.

Most of our children will have talent, either raw or trained, that is why we have let them do this. But make sure that the talent matches the part the child is going for! What a waste of your time (and the casting directors) if your child can't sing, but is trying for a part in a musical!

Fitting the part: It is a sad fact, that your child may be the most talented and confident individual ever seen, but if he doesn't look right for the part, he won't get anywhere. You won't usually know what the director is looking for either, until the part is cast,- only he really knows, and it may be a very specific look he is after. It might boil down to something as simple as the colour of the eyes, or slightly too tall, or a child who looks too modern for a period part, doesn't look cheeky enough, or looks too cheeky! The director could even change his mind half way through the casting process, you will never know! It will have nothing to do with the skill of the child at all, so don't be too disheartened at constant rejection. The thing to be aware of, is that a talented child WILL be remembered by a good casting director, and will quite likely be called back for something else that might be fitting.

A word about taking direction.  Your child  might be asked to repeat a scene a second time, but slightly differently. This may be to see if