What are “Sides” in Acting?

By Webmaster

  • What are “Sides” in Acting?

    A definitive guide to audition sides

    (By Tonya Tannenbaum)

    Audition sides are portions of a script that are selected by casting directors or producers for actors to perform during auditions. These sides are usually excerpts from the actual script of the project for which the auditions are being held. They are chosen to showcase the actor’s talent, suitability for a particular role, and ability to embody the character.

    Audition sides can vary in length, ranging from a few lines to several pages, depending on the requirements of the audition and the complexity of the role. Actors are typically provided with these sides in advance of the audition so they can prepare their performance.

    Sometimes, audition sides may not be directly from the script of the project but could be similar in tone or style to give the casting team an idea of the actor’s range or abilities if the script is not yet finalized or available.

    Why are they called sides?

    The term “sides” in the context of auditions originates from the theater world.

    In theatrical productions, a full script is often referred to as the “book.” When actors are given portions of the script to rehearse or perform during auditions, these portions are literally “taken from the side” of the full script or “cut out” from it. Hence, they are called “sides.”

    The term “sides” has stuck around even in the film and television industry, where scripts are typically bound and not in loose leaf form as they are in theater. Despite this, the term has persisted, likely due to its familiarity and convenience in referring to audition excerpts.

    How long are audition sides?

    Some auditions may provide relatively short sides, consisting of just a few lines of dialogue or action. These short sides are often used for initial auditions or for minor roles where only a brief showcase of the actor’s abilities is necessary.

    For more significant roles or projects, audition sides may be longer, spanning several pages or even multiple scenes. These sides provide actors with a more in-depth look at the character and their journey within the story, allowing them to demonstrate a broader range of skills and emotions.

    What do audition sides look like?

    Audition sides typically consist of the portion of the script that casting directors want actors to perform during auditions. They can vary in format depending on how they are provided, but here’s a general idea of what audition sides might look like:

    Script Excerpt:
    The sides will include a portion of dialogue or action taken directly from the script of the project for which the auditions are being held. This excerpt could be a scene involving the character(s) the actor is auditioning for or other characters with whom they interact.

    Character Names and Descriptions:
    The sides will usually indicate the names of the characters involved in the scene, along with brief descriptions of their personalities or physical attributes. This helps actors understand the context of the scene and their character’s role within it.

    Dialogue:
    If the sides include dialogue, it will typically be formatted with each character’s lines preceded by their name or initials for clarity. This allows actors to easily identify their character’s lines and the lines of other characters they are interacting with.

    Stage Directions or Actions:
    In addition to dialogue, audition sides may also include stage directions or action descriptions to provide context for the scene and guide the actor’s performance. These directions could indicate movements, emotions, or reactions that the character(s) should convey during the scene.

    Page Numbers:
    If the sides are taken from a longer script, they may include page numbers to indicate where the excerpt fits within the overall story.

    Audition sides can be provided in various formats, including printed copies handed out at auditions, emailed as PDF attachments, or accessed through online casting platforms. The specific layout and design may vary depending on the preferences of the casting team or the format of the script.

    Where do you go to get audition sides?

    Audition sides are typically provided by the casting director, casting agency, or production company overseeing the audition process. Here are some common sources from which actors can obtain audition sides:

    Casting Websites:
    Many casting websites and platforms, such as Casting Networks, Backstage, Actors Access, and Breakdown Services, list audition opportunities along with the corresponding sides. Actors can often download sides directly from these platforms after submitting for a role.

    Casting Notices:
    When casting notices are released for a project, they may include links to download audition sides. These notices are often posted on casting websites, industry newsletters, social media platforms, and industry-specific forums.

    Agents or Managers:
    Actors who are represented by talent agents or managers may receive audition sides directly from their representatives. Agents and managers often have access to audition materials before they are made public and can provide guidance and support throughout the audition process.

    Directly from Casting Directors:
    In some cases, casting directors may email audition sides directly to actors or their representatives after they have been invited to audition for a role. Actors should ensure that their contact information is up-to-date and regularly check their email for audition notifications.

    Open Calls and Workshops:
    During open casting calls or audition workshops, casting directors may distribute sides to actors on-site for them to perform during the audition. Actors can also sometimes find sides posted at audition venues or provided by casting assistants.

    Should you memorize your audition sides?

    Some casting directors prefer actors to have the sides memorized, as it demonstrates dedication, preparedness, and a deeper understanding of the character and scene. However, others are more understanding and may not expect actors to have the sides fully memorized, especially if the audition is short notice or if the sides are extensive.

    Related: Memorize Your Lines in 5 Easy Steps

    In general, it’s a good idea to be as familiar with the sides as possible, whether that means fully memorizing them or being extremely comfortable with the material while having the sides in hand. This allows you to focus on delivering a compelling performance and connecting with the character, rather than worrying about remembering lines.

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • What is an Understudy?

    What is an Understudy? The unsung heroes of the theater world (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels) An understudy is essentially a backup performer who is ready to step into a specific…

    What Defines an A-List Actor?

    What Defines an A-List Actor? Decoding A-List Status (By Tonya Tannenbaum) The term “A-List actor” is frequently used to denote the crème de la crème of the entertainment industry. But what exactly places…

    What is Scale?

    Understanding the Scale Decoding Acting Salaries in the Entertainment Industry (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Karolina Grabowski | Pexels) In the intricate world of acting, compensation is often discussed in terms of “scale.” This…

    What is a Meal Penalty?

    What is a Meal Penalty? The specifics of meal penalties can vary, but here are some common elements (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Lukas | Pexels) A meal penalty in acting refers to a…

    What is the Entertainment Community Fund?

    What is the Entertainment Community Fund? The Entertainment Community Fund provides help in various forms (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Monstera Production | Pexels) The Entertainment Community Fund, for the Actors Fund, is a…

  • Ad

  • What is Method Acting?

    What is Method Acting? Exploring the World of Method Acting: Techniques and Principles (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Genarlo Servin/Pexels) Method acting is a renowned and influential approach to acting that has produced some…

    What is Craft Service?

    What is Craft Service? Exploring the Role of Craft Services in the Entertainment Industry (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Craig Adderley | Pexels) In the fast-paced world of filmmaking and entertainment production, ensuring that…

    What is a Stand-In?

    What is a Stand-In? The Role of a Stand-In in Filmmaking (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Ron Lach | Pexels) A stand-in is a person hired on a film or television production to substitute…

  • Ad

  • What is a Booking?

    What is a Booking? Understanding Booking in Acting: What It Means and Why It Matters (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Cottonbro Studio | Pexels) In the world of acting, the term “booking” holds significant…

    What is a Dress Rehearsal?

    What is a Dress Rehearsal? The Importance and Purpose of Dress Rehearsals in the Performing Arts (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels) In the world of theater, dance, and other performing arts,…

    What is a Casting Notice?

    What is a Casting Notice? Casting notices are the initial bridge between casting directors and actors (By Carmichael Phillips) (By AbsolutVision on Unsplash) A casting notice, also known as a casting call or…

    What is a Table Read?

    What is a Table Read? A “table read” is a crucial step in the pre-production process (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Alex Green | Pexels) A table read, also known as a script reading…

    What is the Stanislavski System?

    What is the Stanislavski System? A Deep Dive into Acting’s Most Influential Technique (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Konstantin Stanislavski) The Stanislavski System, also known as Stanislavski’s Method or Stanislavski’s System, is a groundbreaking and…

  • Ad

  • What is a Short Film?

    What is a Short Film? Short films are a dynamic component of the filmmaking landscape (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Ron Lach | Pexels) A short film is a brief cinematic work that tells…

    What is a Call Time?

    What is a Call Time? Understanding Call Time in the Entertainment Industry (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Icons8 Team/Unsplash) In the world of entertainment, whether it’s a film set, a theater production, or a…

    What is a Monologue?

    What is a Monologue? What are some types of monologues? (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Genarlo Servin/Pexels) A monologue is a dramatic or literary form of expression in which a character delivers a speech,…

  • Ad

  • What is Actors’ Equity Association?

    What is Actors’ Equity Association? Demystifying the guardian of theater professionals (By Jim Webb) In the world of live theater, actors, stage managers, and performers rely on an organization that champions their rights,…

    The Basics of the Alexander Technique

    The Basics of the Alexander Technique How the Alexander Technique Can Empower Actors (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Karolina Grabowska | Pexels) Acting is a demanding craft that requires not only exceptional talent but…

    What is a Director of Photography?

    What is a Director of Photography? Demystifying the Role of the D.P. (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Vanilla Bear Films | Unsplash) In the world of filmmaking, a symphony of creative minds comes together…

    15 Types of Voiceover Acting Work

    15 Types of Voiceover Acting Work Your Guide to a Diverse Industry (By Jim Webb) (Photo: Gianandrea Villa/Unsplash) The world of voiceover acting is a dynamic and diverse field that offers a wide…

    Important Theatre Definitions Every Actor Should Know

    Important Theatre Definitions Every Actor Should Know Familiarize yourself with these key theatre terms (By Javier Guerra) (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels) As an aspiring actor, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with key theatre…

  • Ad