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The Essentials

Simple exercises you can perform before auditions to keep calm and gain confidence

We can all use an extra kick of confidence before something as important as an audition. It can be daunting to enter the room or record a self-tape, armed only with a few pages of a script (if that!) and our own belief that we are a good performer.

But this belief is exactly what will carry you through the audition. By following the exercises below, you can calm yourself down, fill yourself with positivity, and then ignite that joy and energy that will help make your audition one for casting professionals to remember!

Exercise 1: Breathe In, Sigh Out

You’ve done all your preparation, but naturally, we get stressed and adrenalized before auditions, so anything that helps regulate the nervous system is helpful. That’s why breathing is so important – especially breathing out.

Take a deep breath in. Then, release all that breath on a large sigh out.

This simple exercise has the impact of dropping you into a more relaxed space and starts to regulate the nervous system. It can be helpful to do this when waiting before an audition. Keep relaxing your nervous system with gentle sighs.

Exercise 2: Tarzan Thump

When it’s time to audition, I put myself in a positive frame of body and mind by performing an exercise known as the ‘Thymus thump’ or the ‘Tarzan thump’. The thymus sits in the middle of your chest, just behind your breastbone and between the lungs. This is also known as the happiness point. Its function is to keep your life energy vibrating at a high frequency. It has a big role in supporting your immune system. The word ‘thymus’ comes from the Greek word ‘thymos’, which means ‘life energy’.

  • A very simple but effective technique is to tap on your thymus with the tips of your fingers. You can also scratch at it or thump in the middle of your chest with your fists.
  • You can pound over the area rhythmically several times whilst thinking of something wonderful – e.g., your favourite food, your partner, your pet, a favourite spot in nature, etc. Do this for 20 seconds while breathing in and out.
  • We can escalate this exercise while repeatedly saying ‘ha, ha, ha, ha’, as you’re breathing and tapping your thymus.
  • We can then escalate it even further by performing a ‘Tarzan’ cry as we thump.
  • You can do a cycle of three thumps but emphasise the first thump more firmly. You can change the rhythm and do whatever you like with it.

Following this exercise, you should feel joy and happiness as it shifts the energy. It may take some time before you feel anything, but persevere and you will get there.

If you’re in an audition waiting room amongst people, you can tap or scratch the thymus. If you’ve done it at home in an energetic way before, this can bring back the memory of how that feels.

Exercise 3: The ‘Yippee’ Exercise

I learnt this exercise in drama school from the clown Angela de Castro, and it’s about enhancing charisma, having a sense of fun and creating joy. I recommend doing it before going into an audition or on stage, or before filming, as it can get your body into that spirit of play.

  • Put something on the floor (a book, for example).
  • Giving yourself some space, run and jump over it.
  • When you land, ground your feet, outstretch your arms, and yell your loudest, most enthusiastic “yippee”.

Eventually, you won’t need to do the jump and the big gesture. After years of practice, I can just repeat “yippee” to myself and it works a treat. Hopefully, this is something that will help you to create this spirit to show you have come with a sense of play. Keep practising!

This article was written from notes taken at Des Fleming’s ‘Confidence in Auditions’ session at Spotlight’s Open House. If you’re a Spotlight member and would like to sign up for future events like this one, check your membership email settings to ensure you’ve opted into receiving our newsletters.

Des Fleming has been acting professionally for 30 years on stage and screen in the UK, Ireland and Australia. He also teaches Acting for Camera at Mountview to undergrad and post-grad students. Des runs online workshops and a weekly in-person scene study class in London. You can follow Des Fleming on InstagramFacebook and YouTube. If you’d like to find more about Des Fleming, his classes and workshops, visit the website – Desflemingacting.com

Photo credit: SDI Productions / iStock