Developing Laser Focus in Auditions - Psychology for Actors - The Inner Game of Acting

Developing Laser Focus in Auditions

Why You Need Laser Focus in your Auditions

Until you're very well known, you can't get work without auditioning. There's so much competition for relatively few acting jobs. This makes developing solid audition skills essential.

Audition skills are not just about being good with people and doing a good audition performance. It's about developing a strong mental game, to bring the mental toughness that prevents you from being distracted by what's happening in the room, and within your own head. It's about taking care of the inner game of auditioning. What do I mean by that? Read on. 

The Inner Game of Auditioning

Because you care about the outcome of the audition, there is pressure. Pressure is self-induced. We do it to ourselves. Pressure affects our ability to focus, our ability to do the job, our confidence and our motivation too.

When you take control of your inner game of auditioning, your audition will not lose its edge due to the pressure. 

The mind gets noisy and your focus is poorly affected. When your focus is affected, it tends to turn inwards and start to let your inner critic freely reign. 

Taking Control of Your Focus

To focus the mind, you need to give it something to focus upon. To do this, I advise that you break your performance down into smaller individual chunks. You then accompany each section with some simple keyword cues, words and phrases which will help to keep you focused in the moment. 

To build a resilient focus, you can develop these cue keywords and phrases as a point of focus during the audition performance.

DEVELOPING FOCUS CUE KEYWORDS

You should break your audition performance down into sections. Then give each section a name related to what you plan to do with it.

Let’s imagine you’re doing a short one-page side:

You’ve decided to come in really angry at the beginning of the scene. So your first cue is called: BLAZING HOT.

Then you drop the energy, get really sad and quiet. You call your second cue COLD SHOWER.

Then start attacking the other character for their lack of backbone. Your third cue is called ATTACK THE LACK OF BACK.

Finally, you end with a gentle reminder. You call your fourth cue, SOFT and SLOW.

So, your cues for this audition performance are:

  • BLAZING HOT

  • COLD SHOWER

  • ATTACK THE BACK

  • SOFT AND SLOW

When preparing for the audition performance, this is what you will think through. Even before the audition, you will imagine yourself giving the audition performance and remind yourself of these cues. These cues replace the tangled thoughts we can have when we are under pressure. We focus on these cue words and not whether it will go well or not. 

Throughout the example above, I chose a number of keywords to help you understand how Audition Cues will help you to focus. However, developing your own focus keywords is a skill that needs building.  Keywords should be simple and descriptive. Their value is that they instantly help you refer to them when needed. When you are stressed or feeling the pressure in an audition, you need to be able to put your attention on these words quickly and without effort.

DO IT YOURSELF KEYWORD CUES

Keywords should be short, positive and most importantly personal. The keywords for an audition can be sensory, technique-based, emotional or creative. Here are some examples of each that might relate to auditioning. Steal mine by all means, but remember, in order to work, they must be personal to you. These are just examples. The list is endless. 

ACTION

SENSORY

EXPLODE

 SMOOTH

GRAB

FIZZY

PRESS

STRONG

GLIDE

HOT

FLICK

COLD

FLY

FAST

CALM

SLOW

LIFT

SOFT

Which SENSORY cue word goes with the ACTION cue EXPLODE? It could be HOT, it could be FAST. But you can use any combination of SENSORY related words with any group of action words. Which action word goes with DEEPLY? DEEPLY PRESS? DEEPLY CALM? 

The more often you use these cue keywords, the more powerful they become for you. If you use them in acting classes, in rehearsal, in preparation and in performance then your use of them will become more effective. Put your keywords in places where you will see them. Put them on a sticky note right next to your bed.  Repeat them to yourself. And most powerfully of all, use them in your mental rehearsal of the audition. My clients that successfully use these techniques always perform better than those that don't. 

Cues quiet the mind. Allow you to focus on what's important and let your ability out unimpeded by pressure. They create a mental map of your audition performance with simple sensory actions for you to focus upon. 

Some examples: 

PERFORMANCE RELEVANT CUE KEYWORDS

TECHNICAL DIRECTION

RELEVANT CUE KEYWORDS

Start with Power

Big and Strong

Move Downstage

Float Gentle

Return Powerfully to the Objective

Attack the Weakling

Get Angry At Myself

Explode at Me

Get Quiet At The End

Hush Now

Need some help with this? I can teach you how to improve your audition performance on Skype. Get in touch and we can work on your next audition. 

COACH

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The 12 Obstacles

written by mark westbrook

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful acting career is the inner critic, the voice in your head, but there are many more.

In this free advice guide, Acting Coach and Performance Psychology expert Mark Westbrook outlines the most common inner obstacles to success and offers you insightful and practical tools for overcoming them.

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