These tips were written for actors attending the annual DFW General Auditions,
but they apply to lots of audition situations.
Be prepared. Do not start working on your monologue the day before. Consider this an opportunity to perform, and bring in performance level work. Directors will remember you if you come in unprepared.
The directors aren't a panel of evil madmen, there to pass judgment on you. Every time an actor walks in, the directors are hoping that actor will be brilliant. Relax, and do your best work.
Choose your monologue carefully. You should audition with a character you could actually play in a professional production. If you are 16 years old, do not play Cleopatra. If you have a guy-next-door quality, do not play James Bond. In class, it is great to stretch as much as possible. In this audition, you need to show yourself in a role you could realistically play.
Do a monologue from a published play. Not one you wrote, and not one by a college friend. When actors perform poorly written monologues, we notice the writing, not the acting. And even if you have written a beautiful, amazing one man show, the directors here are not shopping for shows. They want an actor who can take on the roles in the plays they have chosen. In the many, many original monologues I have seen, I have only seen it work to the actor's benefit once.
Walk in and introduce yourself. Tell us who you are, and give us a second to pull your headshot from our stack. Tell us the name of the piece you are doing, and the character, if you like. Do not spend time telling us the story of the play. We are there to see you act a moment from a character's life, not to tell us a coherent story. Usually, no explanation is needed. If you feel some background is essential, keep it very brief. Less is more.
After your audition, the directors may have questions for you. The clock isn't running anymore, so don't try to get out the door while they still have questions. They may ask about your availability, or about your experience and skills.
If they ask if you can do an accent, or dance, the best response is to do the accent or dance. Even if it isn't perfect, it says more about you if you give it a shot.
Do not feel compelled to bring in a full 120 seconds of material. Sixty powerful seconds will do you more good than 60 seconds of powerful and 60 seconds of padding. We just need to see enough to decide if we want to call you back for the roles we have available. That usually takes less than 20 seconds. Timing will be very strict. We will cut you off before your big finish if you run long.
Consider how you dress. Big or jangling jewelry can be distracting. If you wear all black, your body will blend into the black background. Don't come in costume, but you may want to avoid dressing in a way that is completely contradictory to the character in the monologue. Don't wear loose clothing that completely obscures your body. We may be looking for someone a little pudgy - don't hide it!
Acting resumes are one page. I don't care how many shows you've been in, acting resumes are one page. Kevin Spacey's resume is one page. Judi Dench's resume is one page. You don't have to list everything you've done, just the highlights. The resume gets attached to the back of the headshot, facing out. Cut the resume so it fits on the back of the headshot, and staple it on all four corners. On one side is your face. I flip it over, and can see your experience. Please staple ALL FOUR corners. We will have a billion new headshots to file, and loose resumes may get lost.
Your headshot needs to look like you. Not like you looked 20 years ago, and not like you look with perfect hair and perfect lighting and the perfect expression on your face.
Be nice to the folks at the front desk. They are volunteers, usually other artists, usually friends of the directors inside. They report to the directors, telling them who was rude and difficult. No one wants a rude and difficult actor in rehearsal.
Put a personal number (home, work, cell, pager - whatever) on your headshots. Most local theaters would like to be able to contact you directly, instead of going through an agent that does not handle your theater jobs. Several numbers, or an e-mail address, is helpful. You may move, or change your cell number, and become impossible to contact. We do keep these numbers confidential.
Tell us when you are available. Some theaters rehearse & perform during the day, some at night. Please let us know if you are available during the day. You can just hand write this info on your resumes.
Some of this was taken from a list by Travis Bedard of Cambiare Productions. Go see them when you're in Austin.