March 26, 2015
The Actor’s Workshop
Audition: Everything an Actor needs to know to get the part By Michael Shurleff
The book I choose to do my book report on was Audition: Everything an Actor needs to know to get the part by Michael Shurleff. When Shurleff said everything an actor needs to know he literally meant everything. Shurleff gives tips from what not to do, what to do, what to wear, how to introduce yourself, and so much more. This how to audition book is literally the bible of auditioning. I really appreciates the author’s honest approach to the book. He does not try to sugar coat anything or soften the blow of his truths. The author kind of gives off a “hey sit down shut up and listen to me; trust me I’m a professional” kind of approach. This is not to say that he is in anyway cocky or arrogant but to say that he is knowledgeable and wise. Shurleff book is broken down in to three sections in my opinion. The first section in the book is a Q&A of burning questions that all actors what to know the answers to. The middle section of the books is the author’s infamous twelve guideposts; which are a through outline in how to dissect and ace your audition through analyzing your scene or monologue. The last section of the book is all the things the author thinks are critical and that are a need to know for any actor.
Shurleff gives a lot of great advice and tips in his book but one thing that really stands out is when he talks about the art of questioning. Finding out why your character feels a certain emotion or why they are performing a certain action is critical in giving a convincing performance. One thing he does well in the book is challenge actors to dig deeper into the “Why” of their character. I love how they have examples of dialogue between the author and an actor. He constantly challenging the actor to dig deeper even after they think they have found their “why”. I learned that the stronger and more detailed your “why” is the better the performance. Building a strong relationship with your character is important in selling it to the audience. Through the authors guidepost’s he gives an outline aimed at success for not just your audition but for acting out a character period. Each guidepost is an exercise and training for the actor to better develop your character. The twelve guideposts are relationship, what are you fighting for? Conflict, the moment before, humor, opposites, discoveries, communication and competition, importance, find the events, place, game playing and role playing, and mystery and secret. These twelve guidepost are so critical to an actor’s character development and I believe are the how to guide on perfecting a scene. A couple of the guidepost that stuck out to me were relationship, the moment before, discoveries, and conflict.
Relationship in a scene is basically figuring out what the other person is to you in a scene. It is important to establish relationship in a scene because you don’t want to send off the wrong body language or gestures to the wrong person. For example you don’t want to send off flirty behavior to your brother in a play, unless it calls for that, because you did not take the time to establish the relationship and you mistake your brother for your husband.
One thing I have always hated about doing monologues is that you always start off in the middle of the play and I always feel like no one is going to get or understand what I’m talking about. The author clarified for me that this is the case no matter where you start off from. The moment before is the time before the particular scene or monologue you are performing. This space allows the actor to start off running instead of running during the middle of your performance. I think this is why I have heard many people say you should never do a monologue from a play you have not read. How will you know what your character is truly felling if you don’t know all the stuff that