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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