What are “Sides?
(by AM Staff)
The term “sides” usually refers to a small section of a larger script, used by casting directors to audition actors for a role that must be cast.
Breaking it down:
To evaluate an actor for an available acting role, a casting director must use the script. The problem is, the script might be extremely long, possibly over 100 pages in length. Just imagine:
• Actors attempting to memorize and prepare for a first audition that features many, many pages of text.
This, of course, is inefficient (and impossible).
The solution: take one small, but important, piece of the script – called “sides” – and audition actors using only this small piece. By using sides, casting directors can see how actors perform in specific scenes of the script that are pivotal to the role and the overall production, without using the full script.
One of the major disadvantages to conducting the audition process using sides is, of course, that sides are only a small, incomplete portion of the script. As such, sides do not tell the actor their character’s full story. This makes it nearly impossible for the actor to give an accurate portrayal of the character, since, assuming the story is not already well-known, the actor is only allowed a glimpse of the character’s life.
This is why many experienced actors seek to peruse or gain an understanding of the full script before auditioning.
Don't just settle for having your audition sides. Try (if you can) to obtain the whole script, to gain a fuller understanding of the story & how your character fits into it.#actorslife
— Acting Magazine (@ActingMagazine) January 25, 2019
Where the full script is not available, actors can create a backstory to fill in the details of the character’s life, if those details are not provided in the sides or a character breakdown. This helps the actor portray a character with a full and complete life, even while only seeing a small portion of their character’s story.
Audition sides usually tell only the middle of a story. Therefore, it’s up to the actor to find or create, in their minds, a beginning and an ending. Otherwise, the story (and the audition) might seem incomplete. #auditions #actorslife
— Acting Magazine (@ActingMagazine) December 5, 2018