What Never To Say In An Audition

There would remain far too many misguided perpetuating an audition ender (in more ways than one) that I can say with 100% certainty that the actors – at my level of principal screen casting – have in my decades of casting (and directing) never uttered in all the auditions I have attended. Ever.

and scene

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– Paul Russell

“… and scene!”

Amateurs — and those poorly taught by similar who have no place in teaching actors — are often vehemently instructed that at the end of a screen audition (or God forbid a theatrical try) to turn to whomever is casting and say ‘scene’. They bastardize a noun forcing it into a verb that the innocent five-letter possessor of setting and story should never be.

Here is my vehement retort. Don’t do it. You needn’t announce the obvious. How often have you sat on a toilet, forced a bowel blowout, and then announced to anyone within ear shot your accomplishment by screaming “and shit!” (If you have you’re a sick puppy with fetishes we’d rather not delve into.)

If you’re wondering how this prattle of mine came to be (and if you’re not curious, well you’re going to have to learn how anyway unless you skip ahead but then you’ll be lost) I was watching Bob Saget and Tom Bergeron in an impromptu repartee of a scene. At the end they turned to each other and spat “Scene!” To me it was obvious they were making light of those poor deluded thespians who in all seriousness select ‘scene’ as the punctuation to ending their auditions. But then I wondered, What about young actors who toil in community theater or school plays and misunderstand that what was is being executed on television was sarcasm? There would remain far too many misguided perpetuating an audition ender (in more ways than one) that I can say with 100% certainty that the actors – at my level of principal screen casting – have in my decades of casting (and directing) never uttered in all the auditions I have attended. Ever.

Only when I attend EPAs or lesser forums of auditions do I encounter from actors the “You-may-not-have-noticed-but-I’m-done-acting-now” audition ender phrase ‘and scene’. Often when this does occur the resume of the person who uttered the statement-de-amateur is a near barren desert. Or a lengthy listing of extra work. You do the math of poor audition skills v. better respected performance experience.

So how to end an audition? Hold on we’ll happily get there. But first some other sayings — that if utilized in auditions — would surely display a lack of adeptness among your peers.

I began to wonder about common phrases which comfortably find homes in other professions. How would they be interpreted if used by an actor in our profession during auditions?

“This won’t hurt a bit.”

“Open wide.”

“Just relax.”

“In the event of an emergency, exits are located…”

“Tips are appreciated.”

“Will that be all for now or would you’d like to take some home?”

“Would you mind holding your pussy while I take its temperature?”


Equally inappropriate, are phrases of normal acceptance in our profession of entertainment that if utilized in other professions might be… well… insensitive.

“Pick a focal point” a useful instruction by a choreographer to dancer that may not have been appropriate for a teacher of Helen Keller.

“Move into the light” a smart advisory from director to actor is a not so smart instruction for hospice care givers to patients.

“Pick up the pace” often a necessary directive given to actors might seem insensitive by a physical therapist to a quadriplegic.

“We’ll be typing out” a necessary hiring process evil often uttered in auditions by casting to performers would be all the more malevolent a message if delivered by human resources personnel at an upscale country club to prospective grounds keepers and service staff.

“Go back a couple of lines” by a director or stage manger assisting an actor in rehearsal to discover new motives in a scene might be seen as the wrong type of motivation when uttered by a rehab counselor to a recovering coke addict.

“Cut” as often shouted by a screen director to actors and staff to end a scene shooting may not be the way for a Mohel to announce the end of a bris. Ouch.

So what do you say at the end of an audition scene or the antiquated audition mode of monologues? You either let the listener make the first remark (which is often the case of what happens) or you say whatever, truly comes to heart, that is a positive enforcer of you being you. Something as simple as “Thank you”. Anything or nothing that does not resemble saying the stiff-n-staid singularly amateur identifying “… and scene”.

And if you’re still vehemently holding onto continuing the use of ‘scene’ at the end of your audition I ask you to answer me this: When watching a screen or stage performance how often have the actors – out of character – ended their scene by saying such? If you answer, “Well duh Paul, of course not, they’ve got lighting and/or cuts and curtains to tell us they stopped acting.” then I wish you well on your double dipping careers at Burger King and Walmart.

Never play-down the intelligence of your audience be it casting or a director. If you do then you’ll eventually have an audience of one. You.

My Best,
Paul (…and blog.)

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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