Connecting with a Partner at Commercial Auditions (Video)
This commercial audition is for Hostess Cupcakes. The actors in this video are 3-2-1- Acting school students Natalie Hovsepian and Allie Davis. The scene begins with two girls who snuck down to the kitchen in the middle of the night to eat a Hostess Cupcake. Suddenly, they get caught by their mom! Natalie and Allie only had a short time to rehearse this cold reading before filming.
Natalie and Allie swiftly establish a relationship and connect the way only well-trained actors can. Watch how well they listen to each other! See how keenly aware they are of each others’ body language. This is the type of chemistry in commercial auditions that will book them the job!
CONNECTING AT AUDITIONS
Whether you’re doing a cold-read or a callback, a workshop or improvised commercial auditions, you’ll rarely get much time to work with your scene partner before (or even during!) an audition. More often than not, you’ll hear your name called followed by, “Great you’re paired with (insert a name you don’t know), and you guys will be next.”
Now you’ve got on average one to six minutes to work with your scene partner so you can show what you can do in that audition room. That can be a lot of pressure, especially when you’re simultaneously trying to connect with the material as well as the stranger you’re paired with. What to do?
FROM CONCERNED TO CONNECTED
Use what time you have to your advantage. You’ve probably been familiarizing yourself with the copy, sides or scenario you’ll be auditioning. Now it’s time to get connected with your new scene partner as well as you can in the time you have. The following tips will work to get you from concerned to connected with your scene partner. Bonus! Building a connection with someone using these tips works as well in a board room, class room or audition room!
It may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many auditions I’ve been to where actors are so preoccupied with learning lines they forget to say even greet their scene partner once they’re paired up. Some don’t even acknowledge their scene partners until they’re in front of casting and speaking their lines! How comfortable are you working with people you’ve never said hello to? Odds are if you’ve performed in a play or film with someone, you probably spent at least a little time getting to know them. The same is equally effective and true for those few precious audition minutes! So, break through your nerves and ice at once! Be the person who walks up with a warm smile and says hello! It will be appreciated, at minimum by you.
Share something about yourself. Time is short, so be brief yet personal, or at least personable. Treat your new scene partner as if you are meeting at a friend’s party. It’s always best to feel comfortable with someone as a person before taking on another character. Learn something about the person you’re working with. Find something in common—a favorite snack, keeping pets, being a sibling, an affection for polysyllabic colors… You’re likely to find something in common. Complete strangers can be disarming, sometimes for good reason. However, if you know something about each other, that natural strangeness fades and you’ll find you’re on your way to friendship and trust. Trust is so very important to good scene work.
If the scene calls for closeness or an intimate moment, even something seemingly simple like holding hands or a hug, ask if your scene partner is comfortable with it. Personal space matters, so any action that enters your partner’s personal space, or yours, is best to cross with permission. Asking will help you continue to discover and build that all-important trust you’ll need for your scene work. By showing that you are respectful of your partner’s personal space, you let them know that they can trust you with it, and with the scene before you.
In acting classes, with your audition sides, while you’ve been waiting, you’ve done a lot of preparation. Time to let that go and listen. When you read through the scene with your new scene partner, try to do so without a set plan. You’ve probably already made choices about the direction you are going. Likely, so has your new scene partner. So listen to your partner and react accordingly.
The strength and flexibility of the performer comes the hours of training and preparation. The magic of a scene or a moment comes from that spark that occurs when two people connect. This is true whether your partner is more or less than prepared, too. Listen and react to whatever is offered. The preparation you’ve already done in training and acting classes for kids or adults—whatever acting school or coach you work with—will allow you to make strong choices. Listening, even to a weaker partner, will breathe new life into your choices.
Actors are very lucky to be in a business that allows them to meet so many people and that offers the opportunity to build great relationships (as well as develop effective relationship-building techniques). All we have to do to flourish is to be open, receptive, have fun, and say hi!
First Speaker: Oh, Mom.
Second Speaker: Oh, [laughs] what are you doing up?
First Speaker: You should be fast asleep . . .
Second Speaker: Mm-hmm.
Second Speaker: . . . ‘cuz you work so hard for us and all.
First Speaker: Speaking of which, you, Mom, you really out did yourself with dinner tonight.
Second Speaker: Oh, wow. Those hot dogs were the best.
First Speaker: . . . the best, really.
Second Speaker: . . . that you’ve ever eaten.
First Speaker: Yeah, we were just coming into the kitchen for a bottle.
Second Speaker: A bottle.
First Speaker: Mm-hmm, not for us.
Second Speaker: For the baby.
First Speaker: The baby.
Second Speaker: You know, [00:00:30]in case he wakes up we didn’t want him disrupting your sleep . . .
First Speaker: [laughs]
Second Speaker: . . . you know, ‘cuz you work so hard and all. So we’re just gonna take the bottle up.
First Speaker: Oh, the, the Hostess creamed filled cupcake. [laughs]
Second Speaker: That’s not…
First Speaker: That’s not, yeah, that’s for dad.
Second Speaker: That’s for dad. [laughs]
First Speaker: [laughs] OK. Bye. [laughs]
Second Speaker: [laughs]