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BWW Blog: Four Things to Know Before College Auditions

I wish someone told me these four things before my college auditions.

BWW Blog: Four Things to Know Before College Auditions

What do the dates December 1st and May 1st mean to you? Anyone who has auditioned for college theatre programs knows December 1st as the deadline for prescreens and May 1st as the unofficial college decision day. When the new year begins, college audition season is not far behind. January through March, hundreds of high school seniors will audition for highly competitive college theatre programs in hopes to earn a spot in the incoming class of future theatre artists. With audition season kicking into gear, I figured there's no better time to share my knowledge, advice, and stories of this process. I have auditioned for over fifteen college theatre programs at conferences, on campus, at Unifieds, and on Zoom. I treasure the college audition process. My last audition moved from in person to Zoom the week Covid-19 hit. While almost every single one of my auditions was in person, waiting to hear back from each school while stuck in quarantine was stressful and depressing. Not being able to visit a campus or wondering where my family would be financially in two or five months made the final decision complicated. I cannot imagine what those auditioning this year are having to juggle and consider. I know my words are just words in a blog from a random theatre nerd, but you got this. College auditions are an amazing opportunity to show yourself how ready you are to live a life of auditioning and problem solving, two things actors do a LOT. To those auditioning this year or in years to come, here are four things I wish I knew before walking into my first college audition.

  • Audition pieces. Show you, not a performance. This whole idea of picking the most obscure thing is a little bonkers, but not completely false. It's just taken too far. Don't make obscure material the goal. Before my final audition, I had a coaching session on Zoom. One of the first things she asked me about my audition was "why did you choose these pieces and what do they mean to you?" I had no clue, I just went with what sounded good and was somewhat obscure! I wish I picked material that meant something to me or something I connected with. An expression of who Macy is, not a spectacle performance or what I thought they wanted to see. Since auditioning for colleges, I've become a little obsessed with reading plays (see my last blog for reference). Thanks to my reading, I have copious monologue cuts perfect for auditions. I'd love to share. You know where to find me. @macymcowart or www.macymaecowart.com.

  • Audition outfits. Ah. I already feel uncomfortable. Audition clothes are the worst if you dress for the wrong reason. If it doesn't make you feel incredible, don't wear it. If heels, curled hair, makeup, a skirt, and a blouse is your thing, do your thing. If a button down and pants is your thing, do your thing. Being comfortable effects how you feel in your audition more than you think. Don't be afraid to express yourself! For a while, I wore what I thought I was supposed to wear for auditions. The "right" thing to wear. When I started dressing for me, I became so much more confident in the audition room.

  • BWW Blog: Four Things to Know Before College AuditionsDon't get blind sighted. Real talk- for several years I thought my career rested on the shoulders of NYU Tisch. I could not imagine not getting in. There was just no way. I HAD to if I was going to be successful. For three years, NYU was the only school I could see myself at. When I woke up to my rejection letter that Friday morning in June, I had an odd sense of peace. Getting rejected from NYU hurt, but I knew I was going to be okay. Turns out, getting rejected from my dream school was one of the best things that's ever happened to me. It taught me so many lessons about myself, my work, and what I value in life. However, the biggest lesson I learned is that one college does not hold the key to your future. There is no such thing as a universally perfect program. For years I thought NYU was the only place I could truly thrive. Currently, I am studying theatre at SMU and I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. If you told me I would be at SMU when I started auditions in January, I would have thought you were crazy. SMU was the first school to accept me, but I paid them no attention because they weren't in New York City or featured in the top five theatre schools list. I am so proud to be at SMU and would not trade this training, faculty, and classmates for the world. Don't get so hyper focused on one school that you miss all the incredible opportunities right in front of you.

  • Where are the alumni? When making my school final decision, one thing I focused on was what the alumni from each school were doing. I don't necessarily mean which places sent people to Broadway and Hollywood and which didn't, but what paths the alumni took. For example, I know I want to get my Masters in Theatre, move to New York City, and eat, sleep, and breathe theatre till the day I die. Some schools I was considering were based in California and most alumni ended up working in film. While that didn't make the California school a bad choice, it helped me discern which school was the smartest choice for me considering my goals. SMU alumni, for example, have great success getting into Masters programs and tend to work more in theatre than in film. Additionally, a lot of the alumni's work was based in art activism, art inclusion, and creating accessible theatre. I made the connection that if this is the kind of theatre SMU alumni are creating, it must be the kind of theatre SMU teaches. I was completely right. If a school does not list notable alumni on their website, try stalking their social media (HA. Yes, I am totally advising you to stalk all the schools on Instagram.) Look at their production photos and see if they list any names of the actors from previous years. Another more direct way to learn about alumni is to contact the school directly. I can promise you they would love to talk about their alumni with you! By researching alumni, you can learn a lot about the environment and opportunities created by the school.

To those auditioning, take deep breaths and take it all in. An audition is not the place to strive for perfection, it is a place to share your hard work, talent, passion, and perspective.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Macy Mae Cowart