The Work : The Outsider
I’m Your Pusher Man. Kind Of.
Sometimes—as a mental/philosophical/pedagogical exercise—I try to answer for myself:
What it is that I really do as an audition coach?
[Specifically an audition coach. My function as an acting coach, helping an actor work on a role in production, is slightly different.]
Exactly what I do shifts with each session depending on the actor, the task at hand, the material, where they are with the material, and where they are as an artist.
[Not where they are in their career. Sometimes I’m asked to give career advice, but that’s another hat on another head entirely.]
But, essentially what I do in all audition coaching sessions is be your outside man. I get to work as a committed collaborator who is free of the pressure of the audition.
It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make.
As much as I’d like you to book, I don’t need you to book in the same way you might need it.
[And, honestly, if that’s what you’re thinking about when auditioning, you need to get a hold of Michael Kostroff’s book, Audition Psych 101, read it, and embody it. For real. Do that. Now.]
I don’t even need you to get a callback, or get good feedback, or make your agent happy, or make your mother happy. Those are all lovely things, but that’s not my concern.
What do I need? What do I want? What’s my objective?
What I want is to see an artist more lit up than when they walked in and I want to witness that artist bringing a really great story to life right before my eyes.
I want to be delighted.
Sounds selfish when I say it like that, but my delight—besides being, well, delightful—is the best barometer I have to tell me if the work is not just not bad, or better, or even good; it’s great!
And, yes, great is what we’re going for here.
[See the brilliant author’s preface in Robert Cohen’s Acting Power. It’s one of my favorite bits of writing on what it is we do and what it is we should be pursuing in this crazy work.]
Yep. I’m your very own delight junky who who is committed to getting my fix from you and from the story.
[But don’t worry, Mr Rogers taught me to share.]
I am convinced that if, together, we can find the conditions that reliably create that delight—in both of us—then you will have a real offer to make, a real gift to give when you walk into the audition room.
After that, what happens… happens.
Using my experiences in the audition room to better prepare you for yours is one of my greatest joys as a coach. I love this work and would love to share it with you.
Click here. You'll be glad you did.
Christopher Gurr is an American theatre artist and educator known for playing a wide range of roles on Broadway and across the U.S. as well as the more readily accessible reaches of Canada.
Native Southerner, Midwest educated, with chapters in Northern California and southern Appalachia he currently makes his home in New York City.
The best book on auditioning I’ve ever read. Full stop.
Auditioning: how are you going to do it unless you know what it is and what it isn’t?
Kostroff fills you in.
I can also recommend his Letters From Backstage.
While I’ve never taken Kostroff’s workshop, he and they come highly recommended by many of my friends and colleagues.
The picky ones.