Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Even the most prepared and experienced actors experience blunders at the most inopportune times–namely, the audition room. In this video, Casting Director Erica Arvold and Acting Coach Richard Warner discuss beneficial ways to navigate audition-room mishaps. In a nutshell, they advise actors to “Keep going!” But more specifically, they detail two types of errors they often encounter when actors read for a part.

Technical mistakes

Common technical slip-ups can include when an actor stumbles on his or her words, omits a sentence, or mispronounces a name or word. Arvold assures actors that “Everyone does it.” With this in mind, she urges talent to focus on what is most important: “It is about the character, and about the essence, and about the story much more than it is about every single word.” When actors hold mistakes against themselves and ask permission to restart the reading, it draws too much attention to that mistake and is inefficient. Instead, Arvold encourages actors to demonstrate how fluidly they can recover. “When you have the thought, ‘Oh no, I skipped a line,’ and then you choose to keep going, I as a casting director see that, and I go, ‘Oh look at them! They recovered and they kept going.’” After all, auditions give casting directors a glimpse at how talent will behave on set; actors who keep the momentum of a scene moving forward make work in the editing room easier. Indeed, blunders made during a shoot can be quickly cut out with the best lines salvaged for the final product.

Warner strongly believes that talent should never apologize when errors are made. He views auditions as an improv. “Don’t see it as a mistake,” he says. “Turn it into something.” Challenging actors to use their mistakes as an opportunity to be creative, he states, “It’s about making your thoughts fuse with the thoughts of the character.” Again, let it roll off your back, refocus, and keep going.

Craft-level mistakes

Craft-level mishaps occur when actors themselves notice they are reading with too much or too little enthusiasm or volume–or they’re not fully plugged into their character. Arvold and Warner encourage actors to not stop the reading, but rather to self-correct mid-audition. “It’s really fun, and part of the art of casting is being able to witness someone’s process and how they get back onto track. And I think that is equally as important as the character development and portraying something authentically and with solid choices. The ability to be thrown off-balance and then find your balance again is actually an important part of the craft,” Arvold asserts.

Additionally, sometimes actors make impressive creative choices during a first take; but, when their efforts are met with the casting director giving direction, they sometimes infer their choice was off the mark. Arvold describes how some actors apologize in a self-deprecating manner for their artistic decisions. But she insists, “Please know, the first way you do it, if someone gives you direction to even change it on its head, that you didn’t get it ‘wrong.’” She urges talent to accept the direction with a playful spirit and a willing-and-ready attitude. This frame of mind showcases the actor’s professionalism. And ultimately, when actors choose to keep going, it reveals how they are allowing themselves to be human and be authentic–two essential qualities in any actor.

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