Friday, May 23, 2014

What should I wear?

I had a commercial audition the other day. When I got the email notice from my agent, it told me the time, place, casting director, and all the other information I needed to get to the audition. It also had a “wardrobe description” as to what to wear to the audition. And this is where most actors would go a little crazy. Because it said to dress as close to the look of a medieval knight as possible! A medieval knight?! Yeah, right … I just happen to have a suit of armor hanging in my closet.

If you go out on enough commercial auditions (and this happens more often on commercial auditions than ones for TV or film), every now and then you will get one of these impossible wardrobe suggestions. I had one once that suggested the actors wear purple robes (with gold trim), feathered headdress (helmets) and sandals. Don't ask what we were supposed to be – I've completely erased it from my brain. Or you could be asked to wear 1960's style clothes to look like a hippy.

So, what do we do in these extreme cases? The first thing is not to panic. Most of us – even characters like myself - do not have a huge closet packed full of costumes from every era (starting at about 6,000 B.C., and working our way up to the present (or maybe even into the future).

The second thing we don't do is go rushing out to our local thrift store searching for that suit of armor which, unless some medieval knight felt like donating his old suit, is not going to be there anyway.

Note: That said, if you do any character parts, or extra roles, it's always a good idea to drop by your local thrift store now and then and pick up a few items that can be used for many roles. For example, I've bought a bunch of vests and bow ties, and other stuff that I wouldn't wear in my regular life, but come in handy when I go out for roles like a professor or nerdy teacher (which I do a lot).

So, what do we do when faced with a weird, bizarre, off the wall wardrobe suggestion? We do the best we can. We get a little creative. We do an internet search and see how people really dressed in that era. Then we can often “suggest“ the part with a few little things. 

When I checked out what medieval knights wore, I saw that it wasn't just armor. That was for battles. In their regular life, they wore stuff that looked like long-sleeved T-shirts, with a sleeveless, gray T-shirt on top of that. Hey! I have those! So, I put the T-shirts on, and some skinny black pants that could pass for tights, black tennis shoes, and off I went.

And you know what? I expected that there might be some actor there who works at those Renaissance fairs, who might have a “real” costume, but nope – in fact, I think I was the closest one there to wearing what a casual medieval knight might wear.

And last, but not least – even if there was somebody there with a full costume – the casting people, and director and producers are first of all looking for good actors, not just somebody with a great costume (unless it's extra work).

So just do your best. And don't let the feeling that your costume is not the best, get in the way of having confidence when you walk into the room to audition. Great, confident acting will beat a great costume (almost) every time!



And don't forget - for a lot more audition information - check out "An Actor's Guide to Auditioning" here.

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