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How to Effectively Create and Use the Audition Waiting Area

You’ve chosen your show, purchased the rights, and let your students know about auditions. There’s a lot to prepare, but we are here to help you out!

In this article, we’re focusing on a small detail that can make a big difference in your students’ audition process: the audition waiting area. It can be nerve-wracking for students to wait for their turn to audition, so making the audition waiting area as welcoming, comfortable, and useful as possible goes a long way to helping students have a positive experience.

1. Choose the environment.

You may have limited options for where your audition waiting area can be. It may have to be the hallway outside of your drama classroom. However, if possible, arrange to use a nearby but separate classroom as the waiting area. Pick a space that’s not so far away that it’ll take ages between candidates to get to the space, but far enough that students don’t have to listen to other students’ auditions.

Have adequate seating available for everyone waiting to audition. Ask students to wait quietly and avoid loud or excessive chatting. If students need to do a vocal or physical warm-up, encourage them to do so quietly and unobtrusively, such as by humming and stretching rather than belting and doing jumping jacks.

Be sure to note where the nearest bathroom and drinking fountain are, and have a safe and discreet area available for students to leave their personal belongings if they bring any. If necessary, post signs indicating where everything is.

2. Prepare the space.

Now that you’ve got your location scouted, you’ll want to create a welcoming and useful environment for the waiting area.

Have copies of the rehearsal and performance schedules available for students to take home, as well as participation contracts with attendance rules, rehearsal and performance behaviour etiquette expectations, and any additional information that students and their families need to be aware of. This way, students can take the information home and (hopefully) give it to their family members, so they know what’s going on, what is involved with participating in a show, and that there are no surprises later.

You may wish to have some copies of the script available, and books or articles about the show for students to quietly peruse while they’re waiting.

In addition to having adequate seating, you may also want to have some fidgets or stress balls available for students to use while they’re waiting, to keep their nerves in check. You might also want to have a mirror available for students to check their appearance. (For bonus points, stick some Post-it Notes with positive affirmations around the edge of the mirror frame!)

3. Get a friendly assistant to help out.

A kind and welcoming assistant is the most important part of the equation. The assistant could be a faculty member or a student volunteer. Avoid having someone from the artistic team be the one to sit in the waiting area, as they’ll miss all the auditions.

The assistant is responsible for greeting and welcoming everyone, ensuring students fill out any necessary paperwork ahead of the audition, escorting students to and from the audition space, and keeping the waiting area atmosphere calm and quiet. You may wish to have the assistant take photos of the students so you remember who is who, especially if you’re working with a bunch of new students. Have your students hold up a piece of paper with their name at the bottom of the photo, and if you do printouts, have your assistant attach each photo to the appropriate paperwork — again, so you remember who was who.

The assistant can also be a spy of sorts! Have them make subtle notes about things like:

  • Who arrived when? Did students arrive early, on time, or late? Did anyone arrive together? This could indicate how students might arrive for rehearsals.
  • What did the students do prior to auditioning? Did they chat, were they nice or were they catty? Did they review their material or did they disturb others? Were any cliques forming?
  • Who seemed nervous? Reassure them. Who was nice? Take note of these students. I always like working with nice people!
  • If the friendly assistant is comfortable doing so, have them quietly and casually chat with audition candidates. What are they like? Why are they auditioning? Are they new or experienced? This information can be really helpful when it comes to the casting process.
  • Did the student do or say anything unusual after leaving the audition room?

The assistant can then report back to the rest of the artistic staff with their findings. Any information they can pass on to the team can help with the casting process. If a student is super talented but arrived three seconds before their audition time slot and was nasty to the other students, you should take that into consideration when casting them.

Don’t forget, at the end of auditions, to tidy the room you’re using and return everything you moved back to their original locations. Throw away any garbage and leave the space looking better than you found it.

What are your best tips for creating a welcoming audition waiting area? Let us know!

Additional Resources:

The Audition Toolkit
The Ultimate Audition Guide: Teacher Edition and Student Edition
Pros & Cons of Cold Readings
Round-Up: Best Casting Advice for Fellow Directors

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Audition Toolkit

by Lindsay Price, Craig Mason, and Kerry Hishon

Teach students to present their best selves in an audition situation with The Audition Toolkit - complete with articles, exercises, tips and more for both teachers and students.

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