How Not To Fall Off The Tightrope In An Audition

By Marci Liroff
Do you ever flub a line or get lost when you’re auditioning for a role?
Your palms get sticky, your throat gets dry, you start seeing black spots floating in front of your eyes and you suddenly can’t hear?! Fun…right?! Actually, no, it’s not fun at all! It’s a horrifying feeling when that happens and I’m going to tell you how to win over the room when this happens. Yes, you heard me….win them over.
Here’s what’s happening when you’re auditioning or performing live. I liken it to a tightrope walker. When the tightrope walker is up on the rope, the whole audience is rooting for them. They are on the edge of their seats with anticipation and are subconsciously praying for them to do well. When the tightrope walker missteps and loses her footing and almost plunges to the ground (or rather the net!), the entire audience gasps. But, when the tightrope walker gracefully and masterfully recovers and rights herself back on the rope the entire audience springs to their feet and applauds.
Likewise, when you’re in an audition and go up on your lines, it’s how you recover that can either make or break you. If you dissolve into a puddle on the floor with “I’m sorry’s” or “Can I please, please start over again?!”, or “Damn, I f*cked it up again!”, you’ve essentially just lost your audience. Yet, if you can gracefully dip down and check your sides (because in your preliminary auditions you’ll still be holding your sides and turning the pages along with your scene), find where you are, and look up and continue…’ve just won us over. It’s as if you’ve almost fallen off the rope, corrected your footing and gotten back onto the rope and pulled off your trick. We’ll follow you anywhere.
Another smart thing to do is if you’ve just started your scene and you feel you are way off-track from what you’d prepared – say, “I’m going to start again”…..compose yourself, and immediately start again. When you start saying “I’m sorry, can I please start over….please?!!” you’ve lost us because you’ve lost your power. Remember…this is your audition. Take charge, take control of the room. I don’t mean you should act obnoxious or needy or demanding. There’s a fine line between being charming and in control in an audition and being a diva. And please, don’t do this when you’re 2-3 pages into your scene!
We want you to succeed. How you behave in an audition is indicative of how you may be on set. A true pro wouldn’t fall apart because they forgot or screwed up a line. Hey we’re all human. ALL of us. It’s just a line, you didn’t run over my dog, it’s not the end of the world. But, how you handle it is everything. Everything.

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  1. Thank you for this blog post! It is so timely for me right now. I just completely messed up in a big audition and I know that my apologies brought so much attention to the screwed up lines. Perhaps if I just kept going, I would not have left the room feeling like I just lost an amazing job.

    And thank you for having this blog! It’s so rare to see advice from a big CD like you, and even more rare to see it for free! Thank you for everything that you do for actors!

  2. This perspective was truly eye opening. I’m so prone to thinking the CD is not on my side to succeed which is silly since I’ve sat in on many auditions as a Stage Manager in Theatre and I’m always crossing my fingers for those brave enough to walk in the room. It’s not NASCAR where you secretly hope something goes wrong to make things more interesting. No one is hoping for a day full of bad auditions. Thank you for flipping my views on one of the more terrifying things to do in life.

  3. On Friday, I was in the middle of my first line in the 2nd scene when I realized I didn’t like how it was going. I stopped and said I was going to start over. This was probably the first time I stopped myself in an audition and started over, simple, comfortable, confident. It was awesome. This is good advice, Marci!

  4. great analogy. and interesting – this is the first time i’ve heard someone recommend a situation when it’s ok to start again, and a good strategy on how to do it if required. may come in handy some day, cheers!

  5. Excellent analogy and one I’ll never forget! Thank you Marci!

  6. thanks for share.

  7. Just what I needed, thanks a lot….

  8. Michael Aiden says

    Awesome post and video. Once again very informative. It reminds me of something you said in one of your posts about how the people in the room want an actor to succeed. If you remember that and when you flub a line then it is easier to take this advice and recover.

    I hope you are still doing your class in two years so I can take it. I am beginning a two year meisner intensive to work on my craft, which I won’t be auditioning at all during, and also will be continuing with improv. After I finish it I hope to take your class and learn from you.

    What I have read so far from these posts has been excellent information. Thank you for it.

  9. Laura Cotenescu says

    I enjoy so much your article, on point , straight to my heart 100%. Being vulnerable and honest in the moment is where the bravery of true artists shines:)


  1. […] my article “How Not to Fall Off the Tightrope in an Audition” I wrote  how to reframe and pivot within the audition if you get off-track. If you miss a word, […]

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