You walk into the large room. The casting assistant is a bit frazzled as they’re already running behind, and she’s looking to get the schedule back on track. You clear your throat, and the familiar butterflies begin to do gymnastics in your stomach.
“Hi there!” she says. “Thanks so much for coming, and THANK YOU for waiting. I promise we’ll get right into this so I can get you out of here. We’re going to have you slate, and then I’d love to see you put this piece of gum in your mouth and then dance with joy for one to two minutes. Any questions?”
The audition environment is a peculiar thing.
It’s probably one of life’s most unnatural situations. After all, you’re generally standing alone and offering yourself as a performer to a room full of strangers calmly seated behind a table whose job is to judge you. Perhaps you’re at a dance call; in this case you’re no longer alone, but to up the ante, you’re more often than not in form fitting dance attire…. in front of lots and lots of mirrors.
We all know this is a necessary evil. And thankfully, most quality casting directors and creative teams will bend over backwards to make it as comfortable as possible so you can do your best work.
That being said… it’s still a weird, weird ritual.
At Mark Fisher Fitness, we’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of performers at all stages of their career. With very rare exception, auditions will remain a staple of life for virtually everyone. And even the most skilled auditioner occasionally faces heartbreak from a job narrowly lost (or an incredibly awkward “dance improv” audition for a chewing gum commercial). Happily, we’ve seen time and again that fitness can offer a number of benefits to improve the audition experience.
First of all, being confident about your body doesn’t hurt at auditions.
On the one hand, this is entirely intuitive. After all, looking your best is never going to hurt in any life endeavor. But beyond the physical appearance, there’s something to be said for the mental boost of confidence. Doing your best work as an artist requires being in a mindset where you feel good about what you have to offer. Being in your best physical condition can do wonders for helping cultivate that mindset.
Secondly, being physically fit means you can handle stress better.
And let’s be honest, even in the best of scenarios, there’s some stress involved in any audition environment. Since the body doesn’t discern physical stress from physiological stress, having a regular workout regime means your body (and brain) is accustomed to knowing how to function in high stress situations. This means you’re better prepared to do high level work in spite of the inherent challenges of the audition environment.
Lastly, lest we forget, performers are athletes.
Many styles of training for actors have historically been highly physical (Lecoq, Suzuki, Grotowski, etc.), and with good reason. Even older character actors and actresses may not have to worry about dance calls, but they may still be called upon to perform grueling physical activity in many plum roles. While a full rehearsal process offers the luxury of adapting to these demands, the typical audition environment does not. By staying physically active and keeping your body strong and flexible, you quite literally give yourself a broader range of options of physical choices in a given role.
(As a brief aside, I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot very well known Broadway stars over the past few years. In my experience and virtually without exception, even the ones with little to no fitness background naturally moved really well and possessed a nice balance of mobility and stability.)
As a former actor myself, I know all too well the stresses involved in the audition environment. I also know an effective fitness regime can be transformative.
If you find yourself gym-phobic, you are not alone.
The gym can be an intimidating place at first. But like most things worth doing in life, it’s worth being uncomfortable in the beginning!
There are only so many things in your control as a performer. And auditions will always be a place where some things are out of your hands. However, by making sure your body is physically prepared and controlling what you can, it’s easier to let go of what you can’t.
And at the end of the day, as awkward as two minutes of chewing gum- induced dancing alone in silence may be, you this could be a hilarious and inventive finished performance. And we also know residual checks from a national commercial can buy a lot of gum!
To get instant access to Mark Fisher Fitness’s free report, The 5 Most Common Fitness and Nutrition Mistakes Performers Make, go to mybroadwaybody.com.