Getting Through an Audition
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An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performing artist. It is used in the casting process to demonstrate the level and range of a performer's talent, and functions as a job interview for the performing arts. A typical audition involves the performer displaying their talent through a previously-memorized and rehearsed solo piece: for example, a monologue for actors or a song for a singer.
For actors, the audition piece is typically not from the show being considered; an actor wishing to be cast in Hamlet would not likely do a monologue from that play. However, most performers do have a range of audition pieces and select something appropriate; an actor auditioning for Hamlet would have a dramatic Shakespearean monologue ready, and not perform a monologue from an Oscar Wilde comedy, or a contemporary playwright. Similarly, a singer auditioning for a role in a musical theatre production would not sing opera or country music, and a musician auditioning for a seat in an orchestra wouldn't perform rock.
Some auditions involve cold reading, or performing a script that the actor is not familiar with. Likewise, musicians may be asked to sight read music at various levels of difficulty. This is similar to many dance auditions, in which the focus is on learning new choreography, rather than showcasing prepared work.