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Auditioning Glossary


Headshot: Very simply, a picture of your face. For auditions in the UW School of Drama, you do not need a professional headshot. Any picture of you that clearly shows your face will do. Your headshot should be printed out on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper (does not have to be photo paper, although that is fine) and stapled to your resume. If you want your headshot to look a little more professional, we recommend having a friend take your photo or using your camera's timer rather than using a selfie. 

Resumé: A list of your relevant experience. This should include your name and contact information (but, for safety, do not put your home address on your resume) and a list of plays, films, or other related things you've done. It should also include your education (this could be a high school or college degree, as well as any supplemental related training you've had, such an acting class) and any relevant volunteer experience. Don't worry if your resume is short, just don't lie. 

Monologue: A portion of a play where just one person speaks, often directly to the audience. For many auditions, we ask actors to prepare one or two monologues. "Preparing a monologue" means memorizing and rehearsing it so that you can perform it for your audition. Typically, audition monologues should be about two minutes (unless the audition notice specifies otherwise). The Drama library has lots of plays, as well as books of monologues you can look through. 

Contrasting: If the audition notice asks you to prepare two contrasting monologues, that means two monologues that are different styles, from different periods, or that showcase different aspects of your abilities as an actor. So, for example, a dramatic monologue and a comedic monologue; a Shakespearean monologue and a monologue from a contemporary play; a monologue that is very active and physical and one that is more quiet and contained. 

Contemporary: In theatre history, the word "contemporary" can mean many different things. For the purposes of an audition, contemporary usually means something that feels current and that generally uses "plain" or "modern" language, meaning language that is not heightened, poetic, etc. 

Classical: For the purposes of auditioning, "classical" usually means something written prior to the 19th century. Classical monologues often use poetic or heightened language. Shakespeare is a typical choice for classical monolgues, but (unless the audition notice specifically says so) your classical monologue doesn't have to come from Shakespeare! 

A capella: Without accompaniment. This means you will be singing in your audition without a piano or backing recording--just your voice. 

Breakdown: A list of characters in the play, often with descriptions.

Callback: A second (or third, or fourth) round of auditions. Callback auditions are like a second interview for a job. Typically, callbacks are used to see performers again whom the director is considering casting. Sometimes, callbacks are an opportunity for the director to see actors under consideration for the show working together, so, for example, you may be asked to do a scene from the play with another actor who is also auditioning. Often, callbacks are a time when you will be asked to prepare material from the show. A callback is not a guarantee that you will be cast. Likewise, not getting a callback is not necessarily a guarantee that you will *not* be cast. 

Cold reading: Reading from the script without prior preparation. If an audition includes cold reading, you will usually be handed pages in the audition or shortly before you go into the room. You are not expected to memorize the text! You should keep the pages in your hand so that you can read while you perform the monologue or scene. 

Sides: Sides are pages from a scene in the play. When you are handed a "side," this usually means you will be performing a scene from the play with another actor--so, you have your side, or part, and they have their side. You will be told which character you are performing. 

Reader: Sometimes there will be a person in the room who is not there to audition, but just to be the reader. This means you will be performing your side, or part, with that person while they perform the other side. Often, the reader will sit next to the audition auditors while you stand in front of them. This helps the auditors focus on you and your audition. It is fine to look at the reader and act with them as if you are in a scene together, but they will usually remain seated. Never touch a reader or fellow auditioner without prior permission.