What does it mean to act?
Acting is taking action. We do. Become. Actors inhabit the skins of other people (temporarily) and go about that character’s business of doing stuff. Typically that “doing” is pretty awesome. Or eventful. Heightened. Not run of the mill. Other wise, why bother? Why pay the price of admission?
When you audition, especially when you callback, you need to live the part. BE the character. I had a strange realization the other day at a producer callback for feature film: I, David, was playing the role of auditioner, but the character I was playing (living, rather) wanted nothing to do with the audition. He was in a completely different reality.
Now, not to digress, but I was not “in character” in the waiting room. I am a bit of a Method actor – well, to clarify, I study and practice the techniques passed down by Stanislavski and his “System,” – and while some people tend to think that Method acting means never getting out of character (it does not mean that – please review your Strasberg), I usually am my nervous self in the waiting room, and a slightly more composed version of me when I enter the casting room. Now, certainly, I do my homework to develop the WHO AM I? portion of the role, but the character usually does not emerge until I walk towards the casting room. And then, only slightly. I like to greet the auditors as “me,” then disappear (so to speak) as quickly as possible. Or, perhaps, I open up. Open up and let the character come through. “Character emerges” as Steven Anderson likes to say.
Getting back on track: During this producer callback (which was my second read for the role), I did not hold the sides. This is still a debated topic – to hold or not to hold – and this was only the second time I have ever auditioned on camera without sides in my hand. I tell you, not having the sides really helped me. I was able to listen to the reader more, and work from moment to moment with more clarity. I was able to be the role more fully without the sides. I was the character, not the performer. I think. Or, so it seemed. It helped that the scene was short (about a page) and well written. It was a risk, indeed, but a risk I cannot wait to take again.
So, if someone asks me, “should I hold the sides at a callback,” I will happily answer, “It depends.”
Thanks for reading.