An insider’s guide to Tisch Drama auditions

Don’t view your audition as a stressor. Enjoying yourself on that stage is often the best way to break a leg.

A+comprehensive+guide+on+how+to+alleviate+those+pre-show+jitters+and+nail+your+Tisch+Drama+audition+from+a+Tisch+insider.+%28Photo+by+Sirui+Wu%29

Sirui Wu

A comprehensive guide on how to alleviate those pre-show jitters and nail your Tisch Drama audition from a Tisch insider. (Photo by Sirui Wu)

By Jennifer Ren, Performing Arts Editor

Legs trembling and hands sweating, I paced back and forth on the second floor of 721 Broadway, waiting for my turn to audition for Tisch Drama. I couldn’t hear anything else besides the pounding of my heart. The anxious wait for the audition felt like an eternity, and performance itself was over in a moment

You have browsed through the various studios at Tisch Drama and perused through the requirements. You’ve borrowed stacks of plays from libraries and committed them to memory., Yet, you are still feeling overwhelmed. Don’t worry. We know how you feel, and we are here for you. 

The Day Before

Rest up and check your belongings! Make sure you have what you need, so you won’t have to rush to find them the morning before. You should have the industry-standard performing arts resume and your headshot with you (check for updates here). Additionally, don’t overthink what you wear. As long as it doesn’t distract from your talent, you can wear anything that makes you comfortable and you can move around in

The most important thing before your audition is to get enough sleep and take care of yourself. Sickness can easily hamper your performance. 

Tisch sophomore Cole Kaplan auditioned during the early decision round in 2018. Kaplan’s days before the artistic review were unexpectedly agonizing. Two days before he flew to New York City, he had to evacuate from his home in Thousand Oaks, California due to a huge fire. He had to restore energy and cast aside his concerns, despite seeing his hometown ablaze just days before. When he arrived at a hotel the day before, he started to feel snotty and feverish. Luckily, he had been working on his monologues for months, so everything could be squared away. He eventually calmed his nerves enough to succeed in the audition. 

“There’s nothing we could do to prevent issues like this,” Kaplan said. “All I could do is to do my best in my audition, because I don’t have control over any other stressors in my life. That’s how I focused in that insane time.”

Warming Up

After you check in for your audition session, everything will feel surreal. However familiar you are with your monologues, you will never be able to totally suppress those pre-audition nerves. Take time to breathe and pat yourself on the back. 

Before the audition, you will likely be guided into group warm-ups. Your evaluator will guide you to move around, stretch your muscles and vocalize to ground yourself. You will be given time to do whatever makes you feel ready. Whether it’s humming, lip trills or other breathing and movement exercises, you want to turn up looking fresh and feeling prepared. 

Student Volunteers

When auditions were held in person, student volunteers were scattered around the hallways and waiting rooms. They helped organize the process and made you feel immersed in the NYU community. If you plan to audition digitally, don’t fret over how you are going to connect virtually with these students. They will also be there virtually to make you feel welcomed and answer your questions. 

Tisch first-year Lauren Cahoone auditioned virtually from her house in Pennsylvania this year. Before she went into the breakout room, Cahoone thought everything was going to be stressful. She said that her NYU audition turned out to be her favorite run because of the welcoming vibes. 

“I could tell that the community, just based on the ten minutes interaction with people, the community is great here,” Cahoone said. “I genuinely fell in love with [NYU] after the audition.” 

Own Your Moment

Now is your time to own the stage and enjoy your moment. The student volunteers will lead you to the hallway when you are on deck. Make bold choices! Embrace your feelings and follow your impulses. Two contrasting monologues are required, but you might be asked to only perform one. You might also be given instructions and asked to perform again with the evaluator’s notes in mind. 

Incoming Tisch first-year Kristofer Wilson anticipated to see a whole panel of faculty on his laptop when he Zoomed in from his living room in Carolina this year. Since Tisch is known as one of the best drama schools in the United States, Wilson imagined everything to be more intimidating. He joined the breakout room confidently with six fully-prepared monologues, although he was only asked to perform one. 

“I didn’t feel this intense pressure to perform; it was more so like, ‘I’m an artist, here’s my art, here it is and let’s talk about it,’” Wilson said. “It was nice not to be so caught up in trying to impress the school, more so just being like this is me.”

Be you

After you nail your monologues, you have an opportunity to communicate with your evaluator. This is usually our favorite part of the whole process. It will help ease your mind if you think of it also as a chance to interview them. It’s not a one-sided thing. Keep in mind that you are unique, and you are enough. No school is looking for a Broadway-ready dancer or a best actor Oscar winner. Be proud of your journey, your achievements and your art. If you’re still nervous about it, just think of it as a conversation with your best friend. 

Cahoone remembers how her evaluator was sitting in his chair casually, facing the camera, listening and responding in a comforting manner. 

“My favorite part of it was the interview, which is really funny because I get very anxious when I’m interviewing, but for some reason, for this one, we just clicked very well,” Cahoone said. “I felt I could be honest without having to try to impress him, which I feel like I was doing in other auditions.”

Advice from us

To find the monologues that speak to you personally, it helps to envision the characters, the world they live in and their objectives. When Kaplan started working with his monologues, he felt an immediate connection to his characters.

“I think it’s really about finding pieces you get excited about, because you are going to spend time with it like we all did,” he said. When he started finalizing his choices, Kaplan pictured himself over-practicing his monologues. He singled out pieces he felt connected to the most, so he could keep coming back to them and think, “Yes, these are my favorite monologues.”

Cahoon invites young artists to aspire to change society and make an impact through their arts with strength, compassion and support for one another. 

“I mean NYU obviously wants [passionate actors], but they’re looking for people who see the deeper purpose of what theater can do in the world and how it can change people, rather than just sing and dance,” she said. 

Make the most out of your audition and own your choices. Wilson encourages young actors to give their all in each and every audition and just have fun.

“You know what you’re doing, just take your time,” he said. “Don’t stress it. The great thing about this major is you are more than just a paper. You actually get to present yourself and your artistry.”

Contact Jennifer Ren at [email protected]