Illustration by Patrick Ferris.

Illustration by Patrick Ferris.

I spent my middle-school years wishing for the courage to audition for school shows. As an outsider, my school theatre program felt like something so elite and intimidating and exclusive, that I didn’t even try to figure out whether or not that was the truth. It’s really scary putting yourself out there, especially in school, especially when it’s your art! Freshman year of high school was a time of beginnings and an opening perspective. With this attitude and confidence, I was able to muster up the courage to explore my school’s theatre program. The truth is, school musicals and plays are NOT as scary as they seem, and it’s even less stress-inducing when you focus on the community you’re joining rather than worrying about competition. Instead of approaching the performing arts at my school as a popularity contest, I made sure to remember why I was putting myself out there: to explore new forms of expression and to connect with the arts.

To help you dive in, I’ve compiled a list of tips that have helped me through the high-school audition process.

1. Know your material.

When getting ready for an audition (or interview, anything of importance, really!) it’s a good habit to make sure you know exactly what the people you are auditioning for are looking for. If there’s a song you need to sing, a monologue, dance, or any kind of performance you need to do, make sure you know it inside and out. It always helps me to have everything—lines, steps, cues—memorized in advance, that way I don’t have to rely on anything but my brain. Not having to constantly consult a script makes it easier to go the extra mile with a gesture or tone or accent, and to absorb any notes the directors might give me on the day. Practice at home and in front of a mirror. Audition in front of your pets! Your mom! Your brother! Just avoid showing up for your big moment unprepared.

2. Be on time.

If there’s an audition sign-up sheet, sign up! Get a reserved time and do whatever you need to to be punctual. I like having the security of a specific time slot; it helps me set aside time to get there 15 minutes early, and it relieves the stress of not knowing when it’s my turn to audition. If the auditions are open and you can’t reserve a spot for yourself, make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before the tryouts begin!

3. Focus on yourself, 100 percent.

It may seem obvious (and super cheesy) but when you let yourself shine, rather than concentrating on who is competing with you for a role, you’ll likely feel more focused and confident, and less nervous. Don’t listen to or participate in any of the drama that others might be consumed with. It’s easy to be preoccupied by the talk of people who are auditioning! In the beginning of my high school time (performing arts included) I consumed myself with every single piece of theater gossip there was because I thought it was important. As I soon discovered, being caught up in the latest drama does nothing to encourage the success of your performance—it only makes you distracted. Worry about yourself and think about YOUR audition, not anyone else’s. As you walk into the audition room, take a deep breath, pull your shoulders back, and keep your chin up.

4. Keep an open mind.

Go into your audition prepared for any situation or possible outcome. You may not get the role you’re auditioning for. You may be asked to read for an entirely different character. You may be directed to play a role in a completely different way than you’d imagined. Your audition could go exactly as expected or completely opposite of what you predicted! Be flexible, and remember that nothing that happens on that stage is PERMANENT or FOREVER. Listen to what your directors and audience have to say. Pay attention, and consider their feedback and advice.

Now you are ready. Put your game face on—you got this! ♦