When asked about some of his earliest auditions, Simon Russell Beale described them as “terrible. I knew nothing…[and] did odd things like I did a speech of Cardinal Wolesey from Henry VIII…it was odd to have a man of 22 playing a man of 60.They were odd and I made bad mistakes and I talked too much.
The reason why Audition Doctor continues to be in such demand is because the sessions are not merely about performing monologues themselves, but also about avoiding making the bad presentational mistakes that Russell Beale mentions.
Kevin Spacey recently commented on the need for actors to shift their perspective of the audition from something to be conquered to “an opportunity to introduce [themselves] to a group of people. It may not pay off today …but if you have enough confidence and you walk in trusting the material and trusting yourself and not spending time trusting the things that you can’t trust like “Are they going to like me?”, “Are they going to think I’m talented?”, “Do they think I’m handsome?” but controlling the things that you can. [Such as], I’m going to meet you on this day and be the person I am rather than the nervous crazy person who wants the job so badly.”
Trusting the material is something that many auditionees find difficult – especially when it’s Shakespeare. What Audition Doctor sessions do is simple – they demystify the language.As Spacey says: “It’s not difficult. Take the thing that makes Shakespeare scary – the language – but it’s not so difficult. When you approach the plays from a perspective of how people deal with each other, people dig that. It’s just like family. I’ve watched kids of 14 – 15 getting really excited about how relevant the plays can be to their own lives. Don’t put him on a big pedestal – he’s just a playwright – attack him with an excitement about what his plays are about. Don’t dust him off like an antique.”
Audition Doctor sessions focus on the language because the words are the fundamental tools with which to build your character. Spacey opines: “Being an actor is not unlike being a detective, we are given a set of clues; some of them are real, some of them are what other characters say about us, some of them are factual, some of them are red herrings and we have to determine how we play this role based on the clues that we are given, so I spend a lot of time on language.”
Spacey ends his interview with saying “I avoid any judgements about the people I play. It’s my job just to play them.” One of the difficult things about approaching a character is confusing the act of making bold artistic decisions with making unreasonable personal judgements on the character. Audition Doctor ensures that you never do this, but approach both characters and auditions with honesty and confidence.