'A very useful, down-to-earth book which deserves a place on the shelves of every actor or aspirant'.
Susan Elkin, The Stage, 2014
Auditions are an integral part of every performer's life. From getting into drama school through to a successful career in an overcrowded industry, Auditions: The Complete Guide offers crucial advice, resources and tried and tested techniques to maximise success before, during and after each audition.
How it all began...
Way back in 1992, a fledgling casting director, called Richard Evans, thought about writing a book for performers to help them sell their skills to potential employers. This was because in his two and a bit years as a casting director, he had seen actors make simple mistakes over and over again when auditioning, that sometimes lost them the job without them even knowing it. Mistakes he had made himself many times, during his 10 years as an actor. Having already given quite a few workshops and devised and led a course, entitled 'The Art of Selling Yourself', which shared the knowledge he had amassed on both sides of the audition table, he was keen to help more actors on a wider scale. He attempted to commit his thoughts and ideas to paper, but try as he might, it didn't seem right, and so, like many great books, it ended up at the back of a drawer.
As the years went on and he worked hard gaining more experience in casting, the book was always at the back of his mind. Auditioning actors continued to make those same old mistakes and he knew there was the need for a book written from a British perspective. Fifteen years later, in 2007, there was still no book on the market written by a British casting director, so, as he had some free time, he decided to have another go.
Before he started writing, he set out his vision of what he wanted the book to be and what it should achieve. Those who have met Richard or been to a talk or workshop he has given, will know that while serious about his work and subject, he believes that humour and enjoyment are also very important. As well as giving readers the inside knowledge and pointers to help them succeed, he had two essential aims for the book. Firstly, it should reflect his personality and be humorous and light hearted and secondly be easy to read and understandable, with any technical terms or jargon clearly explained. After all, many people have chosen to become performers as they have not excelled or been interested in other subjects at school and drama or performing arts have been the only things they felt confident doing and were encouraged to do by their teachers. He then set about writing a synopsis and some sample chapters, sent them to a small selection of specialist theatre publishers and waited for a response.
To his delight and surprise, he received interest and an offer from a publisher, within a week - exciting and very flattering! While the offer was a good one, there was, however, one thing they didn't like and wanted to change... Richard's easy going writing style. They believed that a book like this should be a more formal textbook and would only agree to publish it if the style was totally changed. Knowing he only had one chance and being a perfectionist, Richard thanked them and declined their offer, preferring to take the risk and wait for the right publisher to come along. Weeks and months passed and very little happened. Rejection letters trickled in and he had several conversations and exchanges with other publishers which, while initially very promising, amounted to nothing.
He was starting to think that maybe the idea should be shelved and the manuscript returned to the back of the drawer, but some would say that fate took a hand. When browsing through the National Theatre bookshop in London, he stumbled across the Theatre and Performance catalogue of Routledge, the UK's second largest educational publisher. While Richard had heard of them and their excellent reputation, they were the one company that he hadn't contacted, for the simple reason that the majority of their titles are written by academics (something that Richard certainly isn't). That said, the publisher's contact details were on the back cover, so the least he could do was send her an email asking if she would be interested in seeing the synopsis and sample chapters. What did he have to lose? The worst she could say was no, or not reply. He sent the email, received a read receipt from the publisher later that day and nothing else… for five days, when she emailed saying she loved the sound of the book and wanted to see the synopsis and chapters as soon as possible. A week or so later she was back in touch, saying she thought it was a great book and what she especially liked was the relaxed writing style. 'At last', Richard thought, 'Somebody on my wavelength!'.
As Routledge is a large organisation, the book had to be approved by several committees and reading panels before it could be commissioned, but in April 2008, after months of discussion, the contract was signed and over the next year, drafts were edited, chapters formulated and the cover created. Finally, on 20th April 2009, seventeen years after the idea had first come to him, 'Auditions: A Practical Guide' was published and hit the bookshelves. It was worth the wait and was a huge success, with unanimously good reviews and feedback on both sides of the Atlantic, becoming one of Routledge's top selling books in the USA by a foreign author. It has since paved the way and inspired other casting professionals to write books themselves (which is great, as competition is healthy, as are the different points of view of others). It even led to another author writing a book using exactly the same title. When it came to publish the second edition in 2014 (as the industry had become so much more online orientated than it had been in 2009), it was decided that the name would be changed to 'Auditions: The Complete Guide', which, as one reader aptly described it, 'Does exactly what it says on the tin'.
So that's where we are today. It has been an incredible journey, full of ups and downs, but it has endorsed Richard's philosophy that everything happens when the time is right – it certainly did in this case. 'So what about the future?', I hear you ask. 'Will there be a third edition?' Who knows, although the industry hasn't changed that much since 2014 and the book is just as valid today, so it may be a while before another update is necessary. However, Richard is in conversation with a publisher about a new and different book to inspire performers, so watch this space.
Meantime, do read the book and let us know what you think via the Connect page. Enjoy!
Who should read the book?
What subjects does it cover?
........... and many more topics and sub topics over 48 chapters
So how do I get a copy?
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