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Me at my last audition

Why cold reading is our best friend in acting


These are the EXACT steps I use to teach Actors (from all over the world) how to bridge the gap between process and performance.

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by Katherine Beck in Katherine's blog

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel like I am balancing on one leg on top of a moving object while trying my best to perform…..and that’s exactly how I felt at my last audition. Thankfully all those cold reading workshops I did when I was living in LA came in handy.

The other day I had a serious actor fail. When I opened up an email from my agent (with the sides for my audition) I didn’t realise there were three separate downloads for the character. So I only opened up the first attachment I saw…

So on the day of the audition I was feeling really good about the scene. I even arrived early so I’d have plenty of time to compose myself before I met with the casting director…who I had never met before, so really excited to show him my skills. In walks the woman who’s audition time was right before mine. She politely says hello and sits next to me. She asks me if I memorised all the scenes as there’s so much to learn. Wait, what?! She’s got 3 scenes!? I only have one. I quickly searched my inbox for the email and now I could see I completely overlooked the other attachments.

Yes, I had a minor freak out, but it only lasted for about 5 seconds, as the woman quickly got called to go in the room and I knew I would have about 10 minutes or so to get my act together. I opened up the other two scenes and started reading, getting a feel for the scenes, the given circumstances, the relationship between the characters, the rhythm. And just like that the actress was finished and it was my turn to enter the room. As I got there the Casting Director had to take a quick call. I told his Assistant I had only prepared the one scene so she gave me hard copies of the other scenes and we had a quick run through of the first scene before the Casting Director returned.

He started recording the first scene. We cut, no notes, he liked what I did. So we went on to the second scene. Again no notes so on to the third scene. After I finished the third scene the Casting Director asked, “Do you do comedy?” I politely said, “Yes.” He said it showed and said he really enjoyed my take on the character and that it was different to all the other actresses he saw for the role. He was pleased with the takes and said there was no need to do a second take.

At that moment the Assistant interjected to let him know I just did two of those scenes as a cold read. The look on his face was of shock. He couldn’t believe how quickly I performed the new material, and practically memorised as well. And to be honest I was a little surprised with myself as well. It had been years since I had to do a cold, COLD read but instead of crumbling I chose to embrace the moment and show the Casting Director and MYSELF just what is possible.

So that my Actor friends is why I always preach how important it is to cold read as often as you can because you never know what the Casting Director or the Director or The Writer may throw at you in the moment. You may rise to the occasion in your natural accent but what if you need to cold read in the American accent? Will you be prepared? Will you rise to the challenge? Yes, yes you will. So continue to cold read something new and different everyday to keep those skills sharp and ready for whatever acting challenge comes your way.

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These are the EXACT steps I use to teach Actors (from all over the world) how to bridge the gap between process and performance.

Get my free guide!