Read Michael Shurtleff’s Audition

What do actor’s have to do with real people, such as yourself? It so happens that actors specialize in communication, and like real people, also struggle with communication.


Michael Shurtleff was a major force in casting on Broadway during the 1960s and 1970s. He brought many shows to life introducing actor’s such as Elliott Gould, Barbara Streisand, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler and Jerry Orbach. And, also he was a first hand witness to so many great actors failing miserably at their auditions. To address the many problems that he saw during the audition process, he wrote a guidebook called Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know about the Audition Process—that is so comprehensive and helpful, it has become referred to as the “bible for aspiring actors.”


Why would great actors fail at an audition? It happens to be the most stressful moment in the life of an actor — there is time pressure, little information and direction, possibly no practice, a line up of other actors all competing for the same role, and a bunch of auditors you cannot see passing judgment on your performance that you only have one shot at. Sound like your last meeting or presentation?


Consequently, actors are real people too and Michael Shurtleff’s outline of 12 Guideposts for actors is golden for communication of any kind.

Shurtleff writes,

We often fail to communicate in life; we tend to talk at people instead of to them. You hear people say in life, “But I told him!” as if telling at somebody were sufficient. If he hasn’t received what you you’ve told him, there is no communication. It takes two to communicate; the sender and the receiver.  This imposes a constant obligation on the part of the sender to (1) make sure he’s heard the message and is able to duplicate it and (2) let the sender know he’s received the message. Without the process of duplication there is no communication…It’s hard work communicating . Particularly because we must constantly play both roles, the sender and the receiver.


Hard work is good news because it means that with persistence all of us can be great communicators. And, we have the Sherpa, Shurtleff, to guide you as well.

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