Bring on the Chemistry in Auditions

October 12, 2012

Sasha Alexander in Dawson's Creek

“I entered into Dawson’s Creek to do a couple of episodes. They weren’t sure about my role in the beginning, but then the chemistry kind of worked.” — Sasha Alexander 

Showing up to your audition feeling confident, healthy, energized, and looking good to boot...you’re ready as anybody can be! You did your homework and learned the specific requirements of your character. Things are falling into place. But something’s amiss in the audition room when you meet your acting partner. Bummer! The chemistry between you two is really flowing…Not!

It’s always heartening to discover you have a natural rapport with your scene partner. In such cases, it’s easy to bring out the best in one another. But what if your partnership is just not clicking? What if your chemistry is so far off, you’re not even in the labratory anymore? One of life’s mysteries is why people get along well with some and not quite so easily with others. Maybe that’s why horoscopes were invented: trying to make sense of the inexplicable intricacies of personal relationships. As if the fact that your moon rises in Virgo explains everything.

But there are times you’re pretty sure why you’re not getting off to the best start. Maybe your acting partner doesn’t have a command of the material and you believe it’s reflecting poorly on you. Perhaps she came dressed ready for Girls Gone Wild but you’re auditioning for pioneer roles. Or his character is expected to interact with you in a decidedly chilly manner, but he’s noticeably warming up to you?

Can you force chemistry? Probably not. But in these cases, you can make a conscious decision to connect. Let’s face it, this is not your social life; this person is a fellow actor, not your boyfriend or your best friend. You are both making believe! It’s helpful to clarify early on if things are not clicking; then you can right the ship before it gets too far off course. At that point, you may find it’s a matter of technique. You might imagine this is truly your fiance or coworker or military superior or childhood friend. Think about the people in your life who would actually fulfill this role, and then speak to them.

Do your best to commit fully to the scene so that nothing interferes with your focus. When you’re feeling anger, frustration, or disappointment–even if it makes perfect sense to feel that way–those feelings can bubble up just enough to count you out as a proper fit for the role. But hey, auditions are finite; get through them with full commitment. Afterwards, you’re entitled to your feelings about that audition or about that partner for as long, and as legitimately, as you want.