Like it or not, you cannot work without auditioning. Even if you're a great actor, you're going to have to audition at some point.
So many of us perform better than we audition.
Something about the pressure of the audition, how much we want it, how much we don't want to miss this opportunity, it disturbs us. We get nervous, anxious, the heart rate soars, the mind becomes foggy, we don't remember whether it was a good audition or not.
And for this reason, the mental aspect of auditioning, what I call The Inner Game of Acting is vital.
The Work's Already Been Done
Luckily, a lot of the work has been done for us. You see, other people have been performing under pressure for years, sports people, fighter pilots etc. And sports and performance psychology have discovered tools that can help, they're already out there.
I'm currently working on The Fearless Audition, a workbook course for auditions, which will develop the actors' mental game. I've spent a few days truly immersed in the writing and I'm delighted with the progress. But it reminded me of a very simple explanation of why we need help with our mental game.
Three Parts of the Mental Game
Our mental game is really made up of three parts:
Without strong confidence, we walk into auditions without the belief that we can win the role. Confidence is regarded as the single most important element in audition success. Confidence often comes from successful past experience, but most people don't know, you can manufacture it!
Without relaxation, we are at the mercy of the mental and physical tension that results from the pressure of performance. Tension robs us of our capacity to excel, to perform at our very best. Although you will always feel the results of pressure (elevated heart-rate, sweaty hands, nervous shaking) it is possible to relax even in the most important auditions.
Without focus, we will become easily distracted. Our inner critic, our fear of failure, our self-doubt will get to run rampant and we will interrupt and interfere with our own audition performance. Tim Gallwey said that "Focus is whatever distracts us from whatever distracts us." Focus is where we place our attention and a set of positive cues, or mental references will keep us mentally on track.
In the Audition
The trouble is that in auditions we easily lose focus, we become tense and our confidence suffers. At that point, we just aren't in the 'zone' to audition at our best. Then we construct a narrative around what went wrong, which doesn't help much.
But what went wrong is usually that one or more of these mental aspects of auditioning was affected and you didn't have sufficient knowledge and practise of dealing with it to regain your composure and nail the audition.
So when you are approaching your next audition, think about what you can do to improve your CONFIDENCE, RELAXATION and FOCUS.
For more help with the mental aspects of audition preparation, DOWNLOAD my eBook The 12 Obstacles for free.
To You, The Best
Mark Westbrook is the Senior Coach at Acting Coach Scotland and is currently working on The Fearless Series.