Just Do it! Performance advice from Casting Director Judy Bowman

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I liken performance to athletics, says casting director Judy Bowman. You have to trust that you’ve practiced enough. Trust your preparation, your technique, your experience, your instincts, and just do it.

For nearly 18 years, Judy Bowman has been casting theatre, film and commercials. She prides herself on doing good work and being an advocate for actors. To get in peak performance shape, Judy recommends…

Preparation

Talent can come from anywhere but the development is important, Judy says. If I am casting a Shakespeare play I need people who can handle that text and that comes with training.

To get the training, some people go to grad school for the showcase; use three years as a networking opportunity. If you don’t go to a conservatory it’s about asking friends in New York what are the good classes to take, who is teaching what directors and casting directors want to see in an audition, Judy advises. The audition is the key. Auditioning is what gets you jobs.

To get the audition you have to network. I open all my mail, Judy says. I read it, take it in. Then I get an invitation to a show, I see your show, get to know your work, and I bring you in for an audition.

If you have an agent who submits you, also make a list of the casting directors who have never seen you, Judy shares. Volunteer to be a reader, meet them at the one night seminars. Pick the people you know are going to be hard to meet and then follow up and nurture the relationship.

Technique

Most people are really good actors, Judy says but have trouble auditioning or trouble when they get to the callback of stepping it up, of expanding what they are doing or knowing what to do.

Actors need to know how to listen to the adjustment given in the audition, take the adjustment and integrate it. It’s not about pushing or being bigger or being more theatrical or less theatrical. It’s about listening.

Especially in callbacks, It’s about expanding what you did. Hitting the beats you missed the first time around. And that comes from experience.

Experience

Everything is a building block, Judy shares. You have to figure out what your goals are. Know your age range, your experience level, and continue to look for opportunities. Don’t apologize for where you are in your career. You could start at thirty-five and in ten years have a career. Everyone has a different path.

One way to get experience in theatre is to write to the theatre directly, to the resident person who does all the casting coordination. Go right to the source, sometimes that works. When you are trying to audition, write the theatre companies and find out how you can get involved.

I learned a valuable lesson from an actor whose father was a well know talent, Judy shares. She didn’t use her connections but was very pro-active about going to see theatre and writing to those companies. She got a lot of work on her your own.

Also, some actors go out to the regionals and get major credits with directors who work all over the country and that opens doors for them.

Instincts

Show us how you think, Judy says. If you read a scene and I read a scene it will be different because of the choices we both make. Certainly, the relationships you want to honor, and what’s happening in the scene, but the choices you make are always creative choices.

If you don’t make a choice, the dialogue makes sense but there’s nothing interesting about the person who is talking. When we say make a choice’, or make an interesting choice’, it means reading and thinking… how would I like this to be?

Just make sure to keep all of the breakdowns and relationships in tact, Judy says. A lot of times actors make a bizarre choice, a choice that doesn’t make sense because they feel they have to stand out. That is not what it’s about. It’s about having the confidence to say…I think this would be funny, this is my hotel manager. Take your personality and inject it.

Instead of saying be yourself, Judy says do your job and let the audience or whoever is watching you decide if it is working for them. In the end, if it’s a job interview, they are either going to hire you or not. Do what you prepared and then go home.

Just like in sports, when I get on a bicycle I don’t exaggerate pushing the pedals and squeezing the handbrakes, Judy shares as an example. I just get on the bike and ride. Someone might ride a bike better then me. Someone may look different riding the bike then me. But I know how to ride a bike.

To get in peak performance shape you need to prepare, have a technique, get experience, trust your instincts and then when the gun goes off… just run.

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Upcoming casting projects include… I Never Sang For My Father with Keen Company, projects at the Hanger Theatre this summer, and two feature films Last Rights and American Jubilee.

For more information, visit… www.judybowmancasting.com

 

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