You have 3 hours to master 5 sides. Go!
Updated: Dec 28, 2018
Last week, I was invited to audition for a new play. I submitted myself a day before the audition, so I got the sides pretty late. Precisely, the morning of the audition, I received FIVE sides. I was teaching that day. One class in the morning, and one late in the afternoon, and my audition appointment was at night. So I knew I had time (3 hours to be exact) to prepare in between classes.
Where would your mind go in this situation?
Here is where mine went:
I'm not going to get this perfect, so I'm not going to try to get it perfect. But what I can do is understand the material, research the playwright, and make specific choices with a strong need.
STEP 1: READ and READ and READ. Hold off on acting choices. Read it as an audience member, not as a character. Since sides are chopped up parts of a play, a lot of things will be confusing at first. If you read acting it out in your head already, you might miss vital clues about the character and plot.
STEP 2: FAST GOOGLE SEARCH of play synopsis, playwright, director info. This informs me what my character's role is in the telling of the story. Searching the playwright gives me a feel for the genre. Sometimes their personality in photos or videos give me a hint too. In this instance, the playwright was a Filipina-American actor/writer, whose lead character was also an Filipina-American actress. Her picture gave me a certain vibe - an FU-I-dont-care-about-what-you-think-of-me-but-maybe-I-do-vibe. I kinda took that attitude on as a character choice. The material seemed personal to the writer, so I made a choice to be inspired by her.
STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR NEED AND MAKE IT PERSONAL. It seemed like the character's need was To Live - To have something to live for. When did I - Criena - need something to live for? What does Criena know about being lost and broken?
STEP 4: IDENTIFY THE CONFLICT. An element usually forgot by actors. A strong need met by a strong conflict produces drama/emotions/the feels.
STEP 5: DIFFERENTIATE ONE SIDE TO THE OTHER. How can each side show subtle differences in my acting range?
STEP 6: BE PRESENT. While on deck to audition with 5 sides in my hands, I was like "Let it go. There's no way you can prepare for all of these. Don't try so hard." I engaged with people in the waiting hall, found out we have common friends (what do you know, I guess all Filipinos know each other). In effect, I was more present in the room once called.
The audition went well. Only two of the five sides were asked of me. Which was fine. Did I get every beat and moment right? No. I connected to one or two moments. I showed myself in the part. And met some really cool people in the process. That's all I could do. And I was very satisfied with that.
What would you have done in this situation? How do you tackle preparing for sides? Especially when there is very little time? I would love to know in the comment section below.