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Don't Cheat the Monkey


He won't be happy.

Actor PSA: There was a science experiment done with a monkey looking at a computer screen. The monkey was to push a button anytime the screen flashed with a shape. When he did, he got a drop of juice. He liked the juice. A lot. The scientists monitored his brain waves and noticed that the more he pushed the button, the earlier his anticipation of the juice and the spikes of the pleasure centers of his brain occurred. It got to a point that he was registering the pleasure spikes before the shapes even flashed. Then, the scientists took away the juice. His brain waves spiked early, but no reward. He was confused. He kept waiting for his reward. This kept happening and the monkey got angry. Eventually he refused to participate and ran away.

The people behind the audition table are like the monkey. They are anticipating your successful performance. You do pieces we know, our brains get excited about the reward that will happen when you get there.

You have to give them what they are anticipating. If you don’t, they feel cheated. They don’t like being cheated. You won’t get a callback.

This also applies to your type, what pieces you choose based off of your type and the audition, how you perform your piece, how you cut your piece, how your materials look (resume & headshot), how you look compared to your materials, etc. If you don’t give them what they want or are anticipating, they will feel cheated and confused about you.

Confusion does not equal a callback.

It’s not always about standing out because it’s “different” - it’s about giving them even more than they knew they wanted. That’s how you stand out.

Stay on brand. If you have to deviate, limit the variables in a controlled way. Always ask: How does this change fit in my brand OR the brand of the piece.

Don’t cheat the monkey.

No matter what: Give them the reward. You’ll increase your success if you do 🙂

Signed, Your Friendly Neighborhood Actor’s Coach

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