What makes a good song? Or good art?
That is what an actor strives for: I want to do a good audition.
Like a song or a piece of art, ‘good’ is not quantifiable. It is different things to different people. It’s impossible to second guess, because an audition that is good to one casting director, is over the top to another.
I have a better question: what makes a memorable song? Because ‘good’ is transient. Whereas I think memorable is tangible. Is definable.
Think of this. You walk into an art gallery and there are twenty or thirty pieces on display and every canvass is a depiction of a bowl of fruit. The same bowl of fruit.
So, thirty paintings of the same thing. Like thirty versions of the same scene – which is what I see on audition day.
A number of those paintings may be good, and we may love a certain painter’s colour palate, or their brush work. But these are technical considerations. These are the things that are learned in art school. In the same way your presence, your delivery is learned in drama school.
But does that impress us? Intrigue us? In short, is it memorable? After you leave that art gallery, which version of that bowl of fruit lingers in your memory? And similarly, at the end of a full day of casting, whose audition still remains in our thoughts?
That is what you must strive for. Memorability. And you achieve that by approaching your character – YOUR bowl of fruit – with how can I achieve my version of this scene? How do I create a difference? How do I deliver a perceptible difference to the page?
I think actor’s must develop a singular style. You need to start to identify your strengths – on screen – and use those strengths to leave a memory in the room.
Oh, and note to self, a ‘strength’ is not your ability.
Like an artist’s brushwork, strength is a technical skill. That is replaceable. Many actors have ability. But individuality Is a rare and celebrated quality.
And that is what you need.
How do you develop uniqueness?
You get in front of camera. Not just often, but regularly, religiously. And not simply to do a self test audition, or a workshop.
Get in front of camera to simply explore. Experiment.
Think of those artists in that gallery of fruit bowls. The ones who strived to be good, they delivered the technical perfection of a good artist. That was their approach. Their goal.
The artist who experimented with noncompliance left a lasting memory. And now, we think of them regularly.
Which must be your aim, if actor success is your goal.