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How to Be a Good Reader for Self-Taped Auditions — Video Lesson

When you’re auditioning with a script that has more than one speaking role, you’ll need to work with a reader.  How to be a good reader for self-taped auditions is different from being a good scene partner.  If you’re reading for someone else or taping an audition scene, a Reader’s role is important and can greatly affect the outcome of an actor’s audition, even if you’re using a professional audition taping service.  Take a look at this video lesson and learn how to be a good reader, and learn what to look for in the readers you use.  With these great acting tips and audition tips, you’ll know better how to create winning self-taped audition videos and how to help your actor friends, too!

These days, a lot of first auditions are done digitally.  Casting notices instruct actors to record and upload or submit their auditions digitally.  We discussed the basics of how to shoot a good self-taped audition video.  What about when the audition is a scene with more than one character?

You’ll need a Reader.

What’s a reader?

When you audition for a role with a scene, you play one character.  When the scene has only one character, it’s called a monologue.  When a scene has more than one character, traditionally a casting assistant or the casting director acts as the reader.

A reader speaks the lines of other character(s) in the scene during the audition.  This way, the auditioning actor can hear the lines, react to them, and respond to them appropriately.

A lot of what casting directors are looking at is how you react.  It’s much easier to react (and you’ll do a better job) when there is something, or someone, to react to.

Readers for Live Auditions

In a live audition, the reader sits or stands apart from the auditioning actor so the casting director (and usually the camera) get a clear view of the auditioning actor.  The reader stays close enough so the actor can hear the lines.  Sometimes, the reader is another actor who is either being considered for the other role in that scene or may have already been cast.

Readers for Recorded Auditions

Whenever shooting an audition piece, be sure to follow the submission instructions exactly, especially in terms of what to shoot, how to frame yourself, duration, etc.  If you’re self-submitting a recorded audition that has two or more speaking roles in the script, you will need to supply a Reader.   Working with a Reader will spare you having to pretend to hear lines nobody said and react to them believably, which is quite a challenge to pull off well.  And casting directors expect to hear the other lines in your audition scene.  It is a professional standard to use a reader.

A Reader is OFF CAMERA

Whoever reads for you should stay out of the camera shot.  If you have a reader or are reading for someone else, keep in mind all the attention should be on the person auditioning.  The Reader supports the actor auditioning.  Unless the audition instructions specify otherwise, the Reader should not appear on camera.

A Reader is ON MIC

While you want your reader to stay out of the frame, you want your reader’s voice to be clearly heard on the recording of your audition.  And you want to make sure your eye-line is close to the lens without being IN the lens.  For those reasons, Readers often position themselves beside the camera, close enough for the Mic to record their voices and close enough to the lens to provide a great focal point for the auditioning actor.

A Reader Acts…Muted

Parents or friends can make fine readers, once they know what they’re doing.  However, friends from your acting class for kids or your acting coach might make better Readers.

A good Reader reads the lines and prompts the auditioning actor’s reactions and responses.  That means a good Reader needs to act or perform in a way that helps to justify the auditioning actor’s performance.  However, the purpose of a Reader’s performance is to highlight and reveal the auditioning actor’s skills and range.

Good Readers will play down or mute their performance to keep the focus on the auditioning actor.

Performing with a Reader

Working with a Reader is quite different from working with a scene partner in your kids acting class.  A scene partner engages with the tone of the scene, and part of your work as an actor is to temper your performance to your partner’s, to build that illusion of realism and truth.  A Reader who’s holding back on performance is a hurdle you’ll want to prepare for.

When recording a self-taped audition video, be sure to record more than one full take, and always record your “rehearsals.” Sometimes the best moments appear in the first take or the “practice take” and powerful moments can make or break an audition piece.  As you do multiple takes, push your range and energy, then watch it back.  Without the luxury of gaging your performance to the tone you would set with a scene partner, auditioning actors have to fly solo.  Watching yourself back will help you temper your performance and decide what energy to bring to the audition piece.

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Video Transcript coming soon!

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