17 Unfortunate Things Theatre Teachers See in Auditions

Do you ever wonder what kind of things theatre teachers see in auditions? After all, theatre teachers see thousands of auditions, so you know there are bound to be some unfortunately memorable performances.

1. The same monologue

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

I have nothing against D.M. Larson or Kellie Powell, but I have all their monologues memorized now. Time to read some more plays, people!

2. The improviser

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

You just came up with that monologue on the spot? I had no idea…

3. Fierce eye contact

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

Please don’t look me in the eyes while you perform a monologue about “me” attacking you.

4. Wrong genre

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

Your monologue was hilarious, but I don’t think Hamlet is supposed to be funny…

5. Vulgar performance

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

You would think people would censor themselves with teachers in the room… alas… they do not.

6. “Can I start over?”

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

I’m starting to think this monologue is about short-term memory loss. If it is… brilliant.

7. Overly prepared freshman

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

This one is only unfortunate because the seniors are going to whine that they were beat out by a freshman.

8. Lazy seniors

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

The senioritis is strong with this one… so I’m giving your part to a freshman.

9. Techies who can act and sing

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

You can act and sing too?! Great, now who’s going to build the set?


10. The plagued

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

You’re so sick that you weren’t at school today, but theatre is life, so… wipe your nose and try not to cough on the directors.

11. The Nervous Fish

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

At any moment these students think a shark will appear and eat them whole. (I have yet to see this shark).

12. No-show

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

Thank you for signing up last too… I was hoping to wait around for no one.

13. One character McGee

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

I really want to cast you… unfortunately the only character you can play doesn’t really fit in this show.

14. Original monologue

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

Must every original monologue be a dark and depressing window into your inner-thoughts?

15. Multi-tasking

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

Remember, you’re allowed to act and sing simultaneously!

16. Two left feet

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

Don’t worry, we’ll put you in the back.

17. Ineligible

Theatre Nerds, Auditions

I can’t cast you when you’re failing everything except Theatre and Choir.

Are you one of these people? What are some other unfortunate things theatre teachers see in auditions? Let us know by commenting below!

Written by Eric Eidson

Eric is a playwright, director, actor, and theatre educator from Aurora, CO. He received his BA in Acting and Theatre Education, and is currently an MFA candidate at the Playwright's Lab at Hollins University. (Hi Mom!)

15 Comments

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  1. #9 for me. Only I was the musician that did everything sound related. I also never had to audition. One show I worked, I was the sound designer, sound board operator, sound effects creator, live Foley artist, MC (cell phone speech), and auxiliary percussionist all while I was up in the control booth.

    Also, on a side note, someone needs to write a musical about techies preparing for a musical. And all of the back stage technical stuff is scripted to be messy as the actors are the ones trying to run the show from behind the scenes. Just a thought…

    • David, great musical idea! We’ll combine act two from Noises Off with the soundtrack from Stomp. It will be a Broadway sensation! (Maybe some Blue Man Group stuff too… just to spice things up).

  2. I am not a theater teacher, but as the playwright I recently staged a reading. Problems with casting included people who would play only a specific part that had already been promised to someone else, or for which they were unsuited. Also, there were those who had not even read the entire play, but who insisted that the lines they made up on the spot were better than the ones I had labored 2 years on. However, one of my players had taken the trouble to videotape himself and study it to improve his performance–he was wonderful to work with.

    • I mean sometimes I never read the entire play before an audition. That’s what the first rehearsal and table read is for. However, I do make sure the stuff I memorize is correct according to the script.

  3. Monologues about how much you hate education, or the system, or how a college professor did something awful. Great, if you like stuff like that why are you perusing a degree in higher ed? (this one is particular to college auditions, but also as a director… if you have an issue with authority why would I want to be your authority figure?)

    Monologues that contain gross instances of racism, sexism, or any other ism….yeah there are some great plays from other eras where there were different norms, and there are characters who say and do bad things…but there are lots of characters who don’t. You may be very nice but your choice still will broadcast something about you…..

    • I once helped proctor an audition where a gal’s monologue finished with Mozart ejaculating all over the piano.

      Yes, really.

  4. Not an audition but a master class with the great Brian Cox at the Actors Centre. One rather under-talented actor was struggling to get his emotions out (his problem was expressing believable anger) and he eventually illustrated it by violently pulling his pullover off over his head. The class just had hysterics.

  5. I just love when students who haven’t prepared or trained ask me why they didn’t get the lead. You know, the kids with that little chip on their shoulder. When I remind them that they did get a part in the play, albeit a smaller one, they say they’re just too busy with other things and can’t spend the time on the play.

  6. Or musical auditions where they do the first 16 bars of the song instead of the “obvious” 16 bars? I can’t remember how many auditions I saw where little girls sang the OPENING (intro) of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, instead of the meaty part.

  7. Hey, thanks for the shout-out! Whenever someone accuses me of being “overdone”, I choose to hear the word “successful” instead.

    Just so you know- I write plays. My monologues you’re hearing all the time? They aren’t stand-alone pieces, they are all from plays, which I encourage students to read in full before performing the monologue. That doesn’t mean they all do it, but why assume they didn’t? (I sell a hell of a lot of plays, so I tend to think someone must be reading them.)

    Bottom line, you don’t need to jump to the conclusion that anyone who uses one of my monologues needs to “read a play, people!” Maybe what you meant to say is “read more plays” or “read a wider variety of plays” – and if so, great, that’s always fantastic advice for any actor. Maybe if more playwrights would put their monologues online, there’d be a wider variety of material at auditions. Maybe my monologues get done by students so often is because I was a student when I wrote them, and students find my work easier to relate to.

    And, yes, actors should challenge themselves with roles that are dissimilar from their own identities, but you’re talking about students. They’re just starting out. I say, cut them some slack. How well did you understand Chekhov and Ibsen at fifteen? Everyone has to start somewhere. I’m proud to provide kids with material they respond to, and I feel incredibly fortunate to make a living doing it.

    I understand this is a humor piece, and I don’t mean to attack you. We all get sick of hearing the same things over and over. I get that. I just wanted to set the record straight. I don’t just write monologues, I write plays. And if people weren’t (buying and) reading them, then I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent. So, I’d prefer if they keep doing it.

    • Hi Kellie,
      First of all, I was thrilled to see your response! I mean that in all sincerity. Though it was never my intention to criticize you or your work, I can certainly understand your arguments and your perspective. If anything, this is a brilliant opportunity for an educational moment. You undoubtedly have quite the following and I think it would be beneficial for students everywhere to heed your advice.

      Here’s what I enjoy about your pieces…
      1. As you stated, I love that students find your characters relatable. I have seen students and young actors do some incredible work with your monologues.
      2. I love how accessible and searchable your work is on the internet. This is one reason why your work is so popular. In the 21st century, we need to have more theatrical literature available to students.
      3. You are a living breathing playwright producing new work. As a playwright myself, I am a big advocate of new works.
      4. You are a perfect example of a self-advocating artist who knows how to market and promote herself and her work. This is very encouraging for aspiring young theatre artists.

      Here’s why you were mentioned in this article (and I don’t fault you for this)…
      1. Because your work is so easily obtainable, students lazily stop searching for monologues that might better suit their needs. When monologues are pre-cut on the internet, actors believe that the monologues must be ready for an audition. The best audition monologues and scene study monologues allow actors to answer analytical questions like:
      a. Who am I talking to and why?
      b. What does my character want in this scene? What is my character fighting for?
      c. How is my character different at the beginning of the scene than they are at the end of the scene?

      Students often struggle to answer these questions (again… not your fault). Constantly performing readily available monologues deprives the next generation of actors basic script analysis skills. You and I might understand that a monologue is part of a whole piece of work, but young actors are sometimes still learning these skills. In order to understand one part of a play, you must first understand the play in its entirety. I know you sell a lot of plays (which is fabulous) but are actors accurately representing your words and intentions?
      2. Popularity is both a blessing and a curse. As you mention, we all get sick of seeing the same thing over and over, but you seem to be in good company. Other pieces I would consider “overdone” are from highly acclaimed productions. From that standpoint, congratulations on being categorized with some other well-known playwrights and productions! I just can’t have every freshman in Theatre 1 performing Natalie’s famous monologue from Like Dreaming, Backwards… just like I can’t have them all sing “Together” from High School Musical.

      You are clearly very passionate about your work. I think students need to see more of that passion from their idols. The themes and arguments you bring up in your response are all well-articulated. I think students and young actors would really benefit from hearing more of your perspective and story. With that being said, do you want to write guest column for Theatre Nerds? You are a strong presence in educational theatre right now and I know students would respond very well to your words.

      Our Editor-in-Chief, Ben Bailey, agreed to the idea of having you write a guest column. This would be a perfect platform for you to expound upon some of the ideas and issues in theatre today. I think people would also be very interested in learning how you got to where you are today. Any story that leads to success is an interesting story. People often take playwrights for granted, but playwrights are the artists shaping the future of theatre and therefore directly impacting society.

      If you’re interested in having a platform where you can voice your thoughts and opinions… contact us (under the “Backstage” tab) and our Editor-in-Chief will give you more details. I’m already looking forward to giving my students your opinion on this matter and I hope there is more to come!

      Thanks for taking the time to respond,
      Eric and Theatre Nerds

      P.S. – Your argument about the caption was so compelling… we decided to change it!

  8. Let’s be real here. I probably had the same audition piece as another person all year last year. #WhyDMLarsonWhy #Unoriginality

  9. You forgot someone; the one who’s impossible to deal with personally and who makes working together difficult–but is a good actor.

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