How To Survive A Cold Read


By. Brian Henninger

If you are a professional dancer the chances are at some point you will be asked to go in for a commercial, TV, or film audition where you are going to be asked to do something called a “Cold Read”. This is an audition where you are literally handed a script as you walk into the room and are given only a few minutes to prepare before auditioning. Often times these auditions can be extremely nerve wracking for dancers who 1. aren’t familiar with acting, and 2. aren’t familiar with cold reading. Here are a few tips to help you not only survive the experience, but actually thrive and possibly even book a job!

Get familiar with the subject matter: One of the first things you hear when you begin taking any type of acting class is “do your due diligence” this means that as an actor, (and a dancer, or any other professional for that matter) you have to do the research to be able to prepare your performance as best you can. The tricky part of this for cold reads is that often you are given almost no information about your character or the context of the project. In this situation it is important to gather as much information as you can. Find out what the product is if your selling one. Find out what the break down is and what personality type(s) they are looking for. Take note of the other types who are auditioning as well. Do as much investigation as you can about the project so you can form some type of preparation before you enter the room.

Practice the lines for accuracy and also intention: As soon as you get your line(s), start practicing them for accuracy making sure that you are annunciating the correct words and delivering them in the energy that they are looking for. This is tricky sometimes because the casting directors often don’t have all the answers so it is important to make some decisions on how to deliver your lines based off of your instincts and what you were able to discover about the project and the character you are portraying. After practicing your lines for a few minutes you will find yourself feeling more confident and coming up with several different ideas about how you want to deliver the lines. One pit fall you can run into is trying to have too many different options. Stick to 2-3 ideas and then when you enter the room to audition go with the strongest one first because you might not get a chance to try the others.

When in doubt, BE YOURSELF!: More often then not in cold reading auditions the casting directors often don’t know exactly what the client is looking for, or they only have a vague idea. Being comfortable and acting naturally yourself is always a good strategy for cold reads because often you are sent on the audition or find the audition based off of a physical breakdown describing generally the type of person you are. You wouldn’t be at an audition looking for middle aged CEO types when you fit in the 18-25 age range. Trusting your natural vibe and being comfortable in yourself will always be a smart audition choice rather then trying to create some character on the spot.

Cold read auditions are always some what of a crap shoot just because of the vagueness of them and the short time you have to become familiar with the material. Utilizing these simple tips will help you handle those cold reads like a PRO! Which is what you are! Good luck on your next audition.


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