Audition, by Michael Shurtleff, is a book written for actors to provide information and tips about auditioning. Working as a casting director for several years, Shurtleff observed many different actors making many of the same mistakes, and this book is meant to help the actor to go into auditions better prepared.
References and language that Shurtleff used in this book are now out-dated (it was published in 1978), but the information he provides is timeless. Most of the chapters go over general information of interest to actors regarding auditioning in general, and although it seems to be mainly focused on acting for the stage, I imagine only minor adaptations would need to be made when preparing for a film or voice-over role, as the fundamentals of the craft are essentially the same.
The real meat of Audition is the second chapter, in which Shurtleff has outlined his 12 Guideposts. In fact, for the acting class I took, the guideposts were the reason this book was assigned. These are 12 aspects to any character and scene which are recommended for an actor to consider, as thinking about and answering the relevant questions will have you as prepared as it is perhaps possible to be for any audition - not to mention that having already explored the guideposts for the audition will mean you aren't beginning from scratch with your character if you end up being cast. Shurtleff's guideposts are:
- Conflict (what are you fighting for?)
- The Moment Before
- Communication and Competition
- Find the events
- Game Playing and Role Playing
- Mystery and Secret
It might be fairly obvious why these would be important things to consider, but Shurtleff goes into detail with what each of them means and why they are important in preparation for an audition. The rest of the chapters in Audition are full of valuable information as well, but I would strongly recommend this book to actors and aspiring actors if only for the guideposts alone, but the entire book is a valuable (but inexpensive!) resource I'm sure I will refer to time and again as I continue to gradually pursue acting as a hobby.
Walker & Company
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