Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Listen

Act better- audition better- by “listening”

Half of an actor’s job is to listen.

In a session or in front of a casting director or booth assistant, you’ve got an audience present, some hopefully helpful direction and maybe even a scene partner to inspire some convincing life to your read. There is somebody right there in front of you listening to you, to play off of, to give your performance a reference point, a connection, some honesty.

But what about when you are auditioning by yourself (in your home studio/garage/closet)? Is there anyone for you to listen to?

You’d better believe it.

An actor’s job of listening is especially easy to forget when you are auditioning solo– with just you, your script and a microphone.

It’s why auditioning solo is the hardest thing a voice actor. And unfortunately it is what most beginning voice actors are all up against. It is your greatest obstacle to creating castable auditions.

With no apparent audience or no scene partner it is the easiest mistake for an at-home auditioning voice actor to make: To believe that you are performing alone- that you are just reading words to yourself.

If you believe you are alone then that is what you will perform. And your performance will sound like you are reading words.

But a good actor never merely reading words. It shouldn’t even sound like you are reading words. The last thing you want is for your listener to hear you “reading words.”

What is true of all good acting is even more true of good auditioning: You are listening when you speak, you are interacting when you read your lines.

If you are actively listening, the words become invisible and the performance, the stakes, the story all become real.

You want your listener to be involved in a believable, authentic scene. Your performance should sound the same- whether you are recording your lines solo or in a session. Same connection, same reality.

That is what a casting person or director listening to your at-home self-directed audition is listening for: Something that could just be dropped into the scene as is

As you read your audition, then, picture in the stage of your mind that you can see it the scene, that hear your scene partner, that hear what is being said to you before you speak your words- and as you speak your words!

All of your solo audition’s performance takes place on a fully lit set with the ensemble present. It should play out as an interaction, a reply, a response. 

Your audition’s words are an authentic response and connection to what comes before and what is happening to your character right now. You are responding because you are listening.

Failure to actively listen is why most solo auditions sound flat, generic or unbelievable. What should play as a conversation plays instead as a monologue performed in a vacuum.

An actor who doesn’t listen is uncastable because they aren’t acting.

Paint the reality of your performance by listening as you speak- especially when you record alone with no other ears present.

© Dee Bradley Baker 2019

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