Holding an audition for a theatrical, film, or musical production involves planning out many elements. You will need a location where actors can project loudly and where it won't cause problems if the cast and musicians make lots of noise. Choose a time that will be convenient for your actors, and you should decide the kind of audition you will hold. Once you have chosen a location, plan how you will review actors, and whom you will consult with to make final decisions. Usually, that's your casting director, but there are other options. Anticipate holding more than one audition to finalize your decisions.
Book a space for the audition to occur. In most cases, you can use the theater that you are producing the play from, but in some cases you may wish to book your audition at an off-site hall or dance studio. Anywhere that has a large open space for your crew to set up, and for actors to perform, will suffice.
Post notices for your audition with the date and time that you expect actors to come. You should include the location of the audition and information on what actors should bring and any other special instructions you may require. You can post your audition in the arts or entertainment sections of your local newspaper, on your theater website, or on industry specialized websites. Sites such as Backstage and Broadway World are highly trafficked and specialize in casting calls for theaters across the United States.
Decide if you will allow potential actors to bring in their own work. This decision is largely based on your preferences, but there are pros and cons. A cold read of the source material will give you and your crew the chance to evaluate actors performing the play you are working with. Another solution is to hold a monologue audition, where actors bring in their own material, usually from an established play or playwright. Monologue auditions reveal the actor's ability to explore a character he has had time to prepare, which may give a better indication of the performer's true abilities. On the day of the audition, lead potential actors through some warm up exercises to loosen them up. Have actors tense and release parts of their bodies to relieve tension, practice some breathing exercises, and open their jaws as wide as they can to loosen up facial muscles.
Videotape each audition for review after the audition. Use video footage to carefully analyze which actors you will want to call back for a second meeting.
Hold a smaller, second audition to help you make a final selection. The second audition should use your source material so you can see the actor in the role you want to fill. In some cases, you may require a third audition, but your crew should be able to come to a consensus within two or three auditions.
Book a separate room for singing and dancing auditions if you are directing or producing a musical. You can keep the audition schedule on time, and review all footage later on video.
Look for actors who choose monologues that change tone as they are read. These monologues tend to reveal more about the character being portrayed, and will show whether an actor is reciting or performing a monologue.
For a musical audition, Roosevelt University asks that actors sing 32 bars accompanied by a CD player or iPod music as backup. You can also hire or play piano, or have actors sing a capella.