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Joe Riggs

Auditons with no dialouge

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What are some ways to audition actors where there is little or no dialouge in the script? My script contains almost no dialogue for any character beside the lead. Which leads me to ask, what should I have the actors do at the actual audition?

 

Should I let the actors improvise, or should I have them act out the scene to see if they are able to convincingly convey the emotions of the scene regardless of dialogue. Your advice and any techniques you can offer for this tricky audition situation are greatly appreciated.

Edited by Joe Riggs

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Auditions for non-dialogue characters are quite common, so no professional actor should be fazed by not having any lines in an audition situation.

 

As for what to have them do, that depends on your directing style. You need to see them do something that lets you know that they can give you the performance you need. For many directors, that would be to have them do one of the key non-dialogue scenes in the piece. For others, having them improvise something would be better. For me, I like to have a conversation with them and give them some direction to follow to see how well we communicate (and, yes, for a non-dialogue role I would give them silent actions, as it's actually quite challenging for many actors to perform without having words to use as a crutch).

 

Just be up-front in your breakdown that these are roles with little or no dialogue, so no one feels deceived when they get the audition materials.

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We held an audition for short that had very little dialogue. We gave the each actor the same situation and allowed them to improvise, then the actor was given some changes to the way they each performed the scene. This was done to see how they responded to direction.

 

This worked out really well and the actors were happy that they could be seen at their best and enjoyed the process. Although, one or two actors pulled on the day out when they discovered that they had to improvise rather than read lines.

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I would have to agree with Kazan here - in that you can't tell a Hell of a lot in Auditions - maybe some technical things - but to paraphase Kazan - what yer material is is the life experience of the actor himself. If he/she does not have the character in them you'll only be pulling teeth trying to get it out. Kazan would talk to them, take them out for coffee, meet their wives, girlfriends. Of course you can't do this with everyone - but you can do this with yer initial selects. I was casting a film last fall - that got put on hold - but I had narrowed down my choices from "actors access" Back stage, etc - wherever yer getting yer actors - and I had to cast a mother, father and a teenager. I met with 2 teens and found my teen after having coffee with them. The mother I met with 2 actresses and found my mother, the father I met with 2 actors and found my father. I can tell you that almost all the actors were a little taken by my approach. But no reading of a monologue was going to tell me what sharing a cup of cofee told me. All of them had read the script before hand and in talking to them I could tell what kind of actors/people they were.

 

I also act - I had three auditions recently where in all three situations my character was a husband married for many years. In all three audtions I go in and there are 2 guys there. The director and the Dp shooting video. The Dp read my wives lines in all three audtions. I cracked up in all 3 situations as soon as I walked in the room. Now what the director thought he was gonna see with me reading with his Dp? I don't know. I got call backs to 2 of the auditions - and of course I made adjustments and threw myself into the situation - but I think the director would have been better served to have a chat with me initially and see if I have the meat and bones of the character in me. My 2 cents.

Edited by kevin baggott

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I held an audition for a commercial I did that had no dialogue. Not knowing what to do I decided to stray from the situational specifics that we were going for in the piece and pay closer attention to the emotion that we needed to convey. This was my first venture into casting in the commercial world so I was nervous- not knowing if I was focusing on the right thing- not that there is a "right" way of doing it.

 

To begin, I created a scene that had several simple elements for the actor- you just got home from work, it was a horrible day, you want to forget the stress of your job. I also gave her a prop- a painting that sat on the floor against the wall, waiting to be hung which was meant to facilitate a feeling of peace. Her action was to react to the prop upon entering her "apartment". After some discussion and doing a run through of this situation I introduced a new element that would change the scene a bit, creating a new emotion to convey- again, something simple like coming home from a lover after having a wonderful time and again reacting to the painting, but this time the painting was meant to induce stress. I wanted to see how she would convey her emotion and again make an adjustment through her interaction with the prop. I was always sure to keep the central emotion we were going for in the commercial a part of each scene in order to find the dimensions of the actor in respect to that emotion.

 

This exercise was designed to find improvisational skills, emotional arc, versatility, ability to adapt and take direction. In the end I found someone who I thought was perfect... and then the client decided to hire a model instead of an actor because they were more concerned with her "look"... bah!

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What are some ways to audition actors where there is little or no dialouge in the script? My script contains almost no dialogue for any character beside the lead. Which leads me to ask, what should I have the actors do at the actual audition?

 

Should I let the actors improvise, or should I have them act out the scene to see if they are able to convincingly convey the emotions of the scene regardless of dialogue. Your advice and any techniques you can offer for this tricky audition situation are greatly appreciated.

When I used to do casting we always looked for proper amounts of energy and performance. It doesn't matter whether it's a speaking part or not. If your talent can show the right gestures convincingly, then you're more than half way there.

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