Here are some more of my tips on auditioning for a drama school. But for those of you already working as actors, they apply equally to professional auditions.

4. Make it yours
What I personally look for in an actor is the power of their imagination. This is one of the traits of all great actors – it’s their imagination that makes their characterisations memorable and unique. Think of Marlon Brando in The Godfather, Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey or Matthew McConaughey in True Detective.
What I mean by imagination is your ability to inhabit the character and within that, to make your acting choices fresh and creative. But those choices must always seem natural and truthful. If you use a bold acting choice just for the sake of impressing the audition panel, it’s unlikely that we’ll believe you.
So how do you do that? The best actors in an audition find spontaneity – being completely present in the moment and allowing themselves to discover the speech afresh. See where it takes you today, in this moment, rather than repeating something that you know worked well yesterday.

5. Be warm
Warmth is one of the most revealing qualities I look for in an actor. If an actor exudes coldness in an audition, then I’d want to know why they are locked and unable to find openness. But, it being an audition, I might not have time to work on that. It’s quicker just to say, no.
From day one at Guildhall I encourage my students to be ‘warm and generous’. Why? Because over the decades I’ve seen that warmth and generosity are the strongest qualities for creating empathy with an audience. Finding those qualities is a matter of attitude: send out love rather than hate and distain, and be generous rather than selfish to your audience and fellow actors. But remember the vital separation between actor and character – your character may be a hateful villain but you, the actor, must always relish playing that with warmth. It’s the contrast between those two opposites that excites the audience.

6. Be positive
Finally, prepare yourself in a positive frame of mind. It’s natural to feel anxious about any audition, but remember, those of us who are auditioning you are trying to guess what you will really be like to work with. We’re trying to get beyond your nerves to have a sense of the person. This comes out especially in the interview, which is usually an essential part of any audition, whether for drama school or in the profession.
One powerful technique you can practice in the days or weeks leading up to the audition is to visualise yourself doing the interview and delivering your speech with the clarity, relaxation, passion, presence and warmth that you’ve dreamed of. Give yourself time to create a detailed, positive visualisation – a little movie in your mind.
Play this over, as a mental rehearsal, several times a day, and you will start to build up a positive feeling about the event. This will help you come across in a more playful, friendly way when you walk into the room. And that in turn makes you more attractive.

Ken Rea is author of The Outstanding Actor: Seven Keys to Success (Methuen Bloomsbury)

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