Basic information on auditioning, rehearsing, and performing for church-affiliated actors, actresses, directors, and the whole gamut of those who love and practice the theater. Acting in Church provides an important place to start.
By Mark D. Harris
Churches around the world use drama in their ministries, and for good reason. The arts, including drama, music, and dance, communicate eternal truths to the human soul in a way that philosophy, mathematics, and other disciplines could not. Our church, Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley WV, has an ongoing children’s ministry involving music and drama, and will be expanding into adult drama next year. In the interest of having useful instructions for older children, parents, and adults, I have edited information gleaned from the websites below on auditioning, rehearsing, and performing. I hope that this information is useful to other churches as well.
Tips for Auditioning
- Learn more about the play you are auditioning for and check out what part or role you’re auditioning for. Know the time of your audition. Prepare for your role like you already had it.
- Make sure the rehearsal times do not interfere with your personal schedule. If you later discover that you are not able to fulfill the role you were cast in, your reputation will suffer.
- Memorize and prepare a two-minute monologue in case you were not assigned one. Expect that they will ask you to recite a monologue in the audition. Make sure that your audition monologue fits the character you are auditioning for.
- Bring an extra copy of the monologue with you as a reference in case you freeze during the audition.
- Practice in front of your family or friends to gain experience and confidence.
- Develop an acting resume and bring it with you to the audition. Attach a current picture of yourself. Never lie about your experience. Even if you have no experience, you must still create a professional-looking resume.
- When the auditioning is for a musical or singing role, do not pick a song from the same show for which you are auditioning. Pick something that showcases your best vocal performance and acting abilities.
- Prepare a second song just in case if they asked you for another option.
- Bring sheet music for your audition. Casting staff may not let you audition without music.
- Dress well for the audition and make sure to wear comfortable and easy to move in clothes.
- Come early, not late, to your audition.
- Be polite and say thank you when you enter. Otherwise, do not speak until spoken to.
- Pay attention to the director’s instructions.
- If the audition includes dancing, wear your dance attire. Do not be shy and don’t hide in the back. They won’t cast you if they can’t see you.
- They may teach you a couple of dance steps from the play so the choreographer can distinguish on who has rhythm. If you aren’t a good dancer, practice more before your audition.
- Don’t get discouraged. You never know what in the creative team’s mind and you might have something special that they are looking for.
- Do not be discouraged or disappointed if they stop your audition in the middle of your performance.
Rehearsal Advice for Your Theatrical Role
- Don’t be late.
- Be positive and patient while waiting for others.
- If you can’t make it on time for any reason, contact the audition director in advance.
- Have a notebook in hand with a pen and type all the director’s / creative team instructions and notes so you won’t forget one when the rehearsal ends. Practice all their instructions.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask the director questions during the rehearsals. Complete all tasks and instructions.
- Be serious about your role, no matter what your role is either a leading role or a very basic one with no lines. Do your best.
- Don’t be intimidated by the already established or regular cast.
- Make friends and build experience by helping out backstage tasks during your downtimes, like helping to make props or marking up the floor.
- Avoid interpersonal drama.
- Be ready to provide your own costume. Also, be sure to have the costume approved by the director before the rehearsal day.
- Always practice your parts at home which you’ve learned during the rehearsals.
- In case you have a conflict with someone, speak directly to that person. If that does not work, or tell the director. Do not spread gossip.
- Always accept any constructive criticism about your performance and do not take it personally. All actors, even professionals, will be guided by the director or the choreographer.
- Warm-up and stretch your vocal cords and limbs before every rehearsal.
- Don’t get directed by other fellow actors, and don’t direct others as well. Leave direction to the director.
- The director is the man in charge so if you are uncomfortable with something, speak to him. When he understands your situation, he might rework your part.
How to Improve Your Performance
- Having friendly faces in the crowd of the audience will give you more energy during your performance, so invite your family and friends.
- Promote your show to everyone you know. Use your social media to advertise it.
- Don’t lose your focus if you mess up something or forget a line. Keep going and treat it like it was intentional. The audience may not even realize or remember the mistake.
- Before the show starts and during the intervals, use the bathroom.
- Show your backstage crew respect and thank them whenever possible. They are the unseen heroes.
- Don’t eat in your costume.
- Breaking down your show performance into small parts will make it easier for you to focus, to remember your lines and blocking, and to reduce your nervousness.
- If you are playing a comedy role in a comedy play, it is normal that sometimes the audience doesn’t laugh.
- Thank everyone involved in the play when the play is over.
- Put all your energy into your performance since most people of the crowd will be seeing the show for the first time.
God uses professionals and amateurs in every field, including theater, to share His grace with a fallen world. Good acting is a skill which develops over a lifetime, but discipline, passion, and hard work can move amateurs far along. Do the very best you can, and do not be discouraged. Keep trying.
Amateur actors who wish to serve Him in a drama ministry should contact others in their church who may be interested. Talk to church leadership. Getting a good children’s drama program is a good place to start. Small casts, short skits, and few costumes, props, and sets can lead to much bigger things if the Lord leads.
The Church, the Arts, and Shaping the World for Christ, is a good primer on using arts in the church today.
Break a leg!
- 19 Tips Auditioning for Community Theater, https://2beanactor.com/45-tips-acting-in-a-community-theater-how-to-ultimate-guide/#19-tips-auditioning-for-community-theater.
- 16 Rehearsal Tips For Your Theatrical Play Role, https://2beanactor.com/45-tips-acting-in-a-community-theater-how-to-ultimate-guide/#16-rehearsal-tips-for-your-theatrical-play-role.
- 10 Tips For Your Community Theater Performance, https://2beanactor.com/45-tips-acting-in-a-community-theater-how-to-ultimate-guide/#10-tips-for-your-community-theater-performance.