The Right Material For An Actors Showcase
I have been running workshops between actors and agents/managers/casting directors for many years now. It really is a wonderful opportunity for actors to meet, learn from and perform for industry. And while there are never any guarantees, I have seen actors receive great success from these meetings. It’s pretty common knowledge that you need a great headshot…most actors know that already. And your resume should be up to date and at this point, if at all possible, actors need a good reel! However, one aspect that seems to get over-looked is the material actors use when showcasing. I firmly believe that your choice of material can make or break your showcase opportunity. There are a few important factors when choosing your material…be it a scene or monologue.
1) Have it memorized…if material is given as a cold read, then it’s understandable for actors not to know it flawlessly, but when YOU choose the material, it needs to be completely memorized.
2) Don’t choose material everyone else does…I have seen the “Oh not this again” face far too many times…there are certain scene and monologues that seem to make the rounds…put some effort into finding new, unused material…material that industry hasn’t heard over and over again…trust me, it will be refreshing and they will pay more interest in it.
3) Don’t choose material that is synonymous with celebrities…when an actor is doing a piece that is well known as being done by Denzel Washington or Jack Nicholson or Angelina Jolie…you are holding yourself up to a VERY high standard…even when you do it well, it’s impossible not to compare. Find material where the focus will be YOU.
4) Make sure it’s age/type specific! Choose material that suits your age range. It’s not going to impress them when an 18 year old girl does a heartbreaking monologue about her husband and 3 kids…if ti’s not age appropriate, they will be distracted by that and lose focus on your performance, where it should be.
And choose something that FITS you! In other words, you should have a pretty good idea of the types of roles you’re going out for…you should be showcasing yourself in a smart way and smart means show them you can play the types of roles you’ll actually be auditioning for…the closer you get to that, the easier it will be for industry to know where to place you.
5) Keep it to 2 minutes or so…that’s what they all ask for and that’s what they want.
Actors often ask me- should I do something comedic or dramatic…and I say, hit with your strongest punch…it’s great for the scene or monologue itself to show some diversity but always do what you’re strongest at. Look, you get like 2 minutes to impress someone…do it smart, do it right! Take the time to find the perfect scenes or monologues….it is NOT going be as easy as looking on Google…search through unknown plays, indie films…but take the time to fond the right material…it can make all the difference.
Joshua Nelson is the owner and operator of The Network Studio East…Where actors meet industry…but we are run for actore BY actors…He is also the owner of LaGuardia Acting Studio, a professional acting school for adults in Parsippany, NJ.