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<p> Auditions are rough. Particularly if you suffer from nerves. </p> <p> I suffer from nerves. They make my voice strained and my breathing shallow. I go pale and I shake. My performance is sort of wooden and inconsistent, or consistently bad. </p> <p> I admit I am not the best judge of my own performance, ever, but I know how it feels, and I know that the auditions I am relaxed and confident are the auditions that I get the gig from. </p> <p> So how can you control something like 'nerves?' </p> <p> ATTITUDE! </p> <p> When I am nervous and performing badly, I can't really blame my nerves. Nerves can, of course, ruin even the best laid plans. However, nerves are the result of stimulus that can manifest itself as excitement or anxiety. If I'm nervous during an audition and my throat goes dry, even if Im prepared, that's going to make things difficult for me. But If I interpret my dry throat as a sign that I'm excited, I can overcome them with confidence and energy. With the right attitude, shaking, a palid complexion and a dry throat can be channeled into your performance and even into your character.</p> <p> Nerves are often a sign that I haven't prepared properly. </p> <p> PREPARATION!</p> <p> Learn the lines:</p> <p> Which casting director isn't going to be impressed or at least relieved that you learnt the lines? Even if you weren't required to. And how much better do you feel when you're acting with someone and making eye contact, putting meaning into the lines, rather than just reading off the page? No matter how good you are at cold reading, it's usually so much more dynamic and a better performance if you learn the lines! </p> <p> Explore character: </p> <p> It doesn't have to be a whole character bio but at least be familiar with your character on more than the superficial level. You need to know the character's objective and motivations. Don't be that guy who just lifts the character's Facebook profile. Use your personal experience, your knowledge of humanity and any relevant research to inform your characterisation. Be familiar with the language of the character. If they speak French, you'd better know what those lines mean. </p> <p> Optimise your tool:</p> <p> You need to practice breathing deep full breaths from your diaphragm. That will help with the nerves and when you're breathing properly you won't be able to hold as much tension in your throat: that will help with the small high pitched weak voice that nerves bestow upon you. Loosen your jaw. Shake your body. Take the feeling of butterflies in your tummy or tingling in your limbs and use it to energise you. Start to treat your symptoms of nervousness as your dynamic edge, trust that these feelings will empower you and help your performance and go away when they have done their job. Use it as a sign that you need to concentrate and focus on your character and lines. </p> <p> Put yourself in a position to take charge of the room:</p> <p> Be on time. Be personable, accessable and professional. Familiarise yourself with the space. Claim your performance space. Take your time. Interpret the character from a place of authenticity and authority. Take direction. Lead the interview. Relax. Keep in mind that you are auditioning them, too. Be self-assured. There are no mistakes, just exercises and opportunities.</p> <p> Dress for the part:</p> <p> Don't bring a costume just keep the role in mind and present your interpretation of the character. Dress comfortably, though. If you don't wear heels but your character does, you'll have plenty of time to learn to walk in heels later, for now, just wear something that portrays a similar sense of sexiness, professionalism or whatever it is that high heels are supposed to represent. </p> <p> I don't do this everytime. Sometimes I do it and don't get a callback. Other times I don't do it and do get a callback. But this is best practice for actors, anyway. </p> <p> I was told by a director that I respect very much that my voice lets me down. That's my weakness. Because he was honest with me I am able to improve this. Next time it won't be my weakness. Hopefully, I won't have one.  But he also said that my nerves affected me so much that he didn't know what I was capable of in performance. Directors are used to seeing nerves. They don't judge you for being nervous. They want you to do well and they understand anxiety. But you have to perform through your nerves because sometimes directors simply can't see what you're capable of behind the nerves. If your nervousness is seriously cramping your style and the above strategies of attitude adjustment and preparation don't help there are still things you can try. Don't give up.</p> <p> Hypnosis or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help to calm your nerves and overcome their symptoms. It is a long term answer and is only as effective as the doctor and patient. But it could have empowering and dramatic results.</p> <p> A Beta-blocker is a drug that is often prescribed to musicians and stops nervousness. Apparently it feels like you're uninspired and it's difficult to truly guage your performance. It's a short term, temporary measure. It would require extensive preparation to overcome the feeling of being uninspired but actors are notoriously bad are rating their own performances accurately so this probably wouldn't affect that aspect too much. This would be the most effective and immediate answer to nerves. </p> <p> Nothing beats practice. Audition often and you'll eventually audition well. I know my nerves are never as bad during a performance because we've run the performance many times. But it might be worthwhile acknowledging that sometimes my performance can be lacklustre because I don't have nerves.</p> <p> Remember: nerves aren't all bad. Sometimes they provide that little spark that lights up the whole show! </p> <p> Tell me how you manage your nerves, I'm always desperate for more strategies!</p>

Posted at: 11/01/2013 21:38

Tags: nerves auditions Molly Kerr actor practice preparation attitude hypnosis Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

<p> It's cold in Perth. There's just no denying that despite the sun shining, the air is nippy and all anyone wants to do is hibernate. It's October in Perth and we're all still freezing our butts off!</p> <p> While I can't heat the house with the power of positive thinking, I can heat up my career. I am so much a home-body, I love socialising, dancing, going to cafes for afternoon tea and having friends stay over for hours just chatting but nothing beats just cuddling myself into my cushions like a little kitten and having a wee nap. But that's all about to change. You see, despite having quite a busy schedule on the acting front, and starting to make a bit of money out of it, I am not making a big enough impact in the Perth community to sustain my career in the long term. </p> <p> My plan is to go out there and bust my ass networking and theatricising and filmicking! Those may or may not be real words but my plan is real. I've signed up to be an usher. Unpaid but I get to see shows for free. I have joined mailing lists for the major improv group here to make sure I'm aware of their next audition round. I am watching out for the Screenwest networking events, the photography fundraisers, the fashion events, the PFN events and anything else that brings together movers and shakers to hob nob and compare the colour of their underwear! </p> <p> But the most important change I made has been to my attitude. And that started a little while ago. I started to see myself as a professional actor. I had only had one professional paid acting job. I faked it till I maked it, baby! It followed that I had more paid acting work and more and more until I actually don't need to work in childcare to subside my wage. I just started to view myself as a professional actor and that was the main effort involved in permitting everyone else to do so. </p> <p> Now, I might have had all the ambition but none of the motivation in the past but that's the next attitude change I've made. It's amazing what you can do when you just commit to a goal and say, "no matter what."</p> <p> I can make my career burst with awesomeness even in sleepy old industry-free Perth. What can you do when you make up your mind to do it? </p> <p> Peace, </p> <p> MK</p>

Posted at: 10/20/2013 04:36

Tags: Molly Kerr attitude positive thinking fake it till you make it blog motivation ambition home-body acting paid