Audition Secrets from Gary Spatz and Gayla Goehl of The Playground – Part 2: COMMITMENT

Gary Spatz and Gayla Goehl continue to share their secrets for audition success…

This is a continuation of a multi-part article. Read the introduction or  Part 1 –  on preparation.


Commitment means making sure that, for the duration of the audition, an actor is prepared to completely inhabit their character. Fully committing to a scene requires an actor to trust in themselves and the choices they have made during preparation.

“When professionals imagine someone in a scene that they are supposed to “like” they don’t think about a generic person, but about someone that they actually know – someone they like. Only by making that personal choice can they feed their work and trigger authentic, organic inner emotional responses during the audition.” Gary Spatz

However, that’s only half of acting.  The other half comes in listening to what is being said to the character and in that moment making choices about how you feel about what was said to you.  Half of acting is re-acting.

“Acting” does not happen only when speaking

– half of acting happens while listening and reacting before speaking the next line. The casting person wants to see listening and reaction! They will watch the same scene many, many times, with many many actors and the actors who are fully engaged and listening will leave an impression. Even if they do not book the job, the casting agent will remember you and call you back for other roles.” Gary Spatz

Commitment also comes in the form of allowing yourself to be open to the emotional responsibility going on in the scene.  Let’s say you are working on a scene were someone is breaking up with you.  You have made the choice that this breakup is very confusing and devastating.  Then you must get to the point where you believe you are honestly experiencing those very emotions during the scene.

Young actors can struggle to get to these painful yet truthful places.

When I ask what is stopping them from getting to those emotions during rehearsal, I get answers like, “I don’t like anyone like that.”  “I’m in a great mood today. I don’t want to spoil it.” And “I’ll do it in the room for the casting director. I just don’t want to do it now.”

My answer is always the same. If you rehearse poorly, without commitment to the emotional life of the character, then you are hoping you do well in the audition. Not ensuring you will do well. If you are willing to rehearse working on creating these complex emotions, then you are preparing yourself to achieve them in front of casting directors, producers and directors. And if lucky enough to book the role and be on–set, then you are prepared to do those emotions in front of hundreds of other people too. There will be other actors, crew and possibly a multitude of others on-set with you.

 You must be committed to allowing yourself to experience these emotions.

– Gayla Goehl

Commitment to emotions is hard for some actors to do. Honest, real emotion can be difficult to achieve in a scene. That is part of an actor’s skill – willingness to be uncomfortable or scared. However, you must possess this willingness to be successful at an audition.

There are many techniques taught at The Playground to help to help the actor be more committed to the emotional choices in the scene.  One is making choices that are more personal to the actor.  An actor can imagine using real people and real relationships from their life. These personal choices create honest emotions. Allowing for real feelings to occur during the scene.

If the actor can combine that with truthful listening (having real thoughts of the character) then a casting director will see that.  They will see it in your eyes. THAT is what people are looking for on-camera. Honest, real reactions from the character that relate to and authentically make sense in what is going on in a scene.

An actor must commit to the preparation. Commit to the requirements of the scene. Commit to emotional willingness.  Then an actor is committed to the scene.

Stay tuned for the next installment on Auditions!




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