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Ashley enjoys a Prickly Pear Margarita in Austin, Texas.

You’re at an audition for a restaurant commercial and the actress in the scene with you starts “drinking” a margarita.  She’s cute and friendly, but who is she? I don’t mean, what’s her name? I mean, who is she in the scene? You have seconds to figure it out. She may give you a hint or you may the one to establish her character. It’s a lot to handle in a matter of seconds, but that’s the nature of an unscripted audition.

The choices you can make it an improvised audition are virtually endless but it’s important to be decisive. You don’t have time to carefully consider every option. That comes in your prep time BEFORE the audition when you speculate about all the potential situations the casting director could throw you into during the casting session. Right now, you’re just looking at Ashley and needing to come up with a line quickly.

Let’s say Ashley is your sister. Let’s be more specific. She’s your younger sister.  Taking the sibling route gives the two of you a familiarity, even if you’re just meeting for the first time in real life.

What brought you to the restaurant? If it’s a commercial for the restaurant you’re pretending to be in, you want the scenario to be lighthearted and uplifting. Choosing to make your conversation about how to deal with Dad’s death or Mom’s cancer diagnosis is not the direction you want to go in. Think of typical sibling scenarios: celebrating a new job or a birthday, asking for advice, or returning a favor. You’re both happy and smiling.

Smiling and sharing happy chat for a minute or two isn’t enough. You want the scene to go somewhere. Something should change. Maybe one of you discovers a new item on the menu or a special price. Maybe there’s a surprise announcement: Ashley looks around and then shouts “surprise!” as you realize she planned a party for you and invited friends you haven’t seen in 10 years.

If you are representing the client’s competition, you want to make different choices.  Aim to paint a picture that shows the place as less than desirable. Perhaps you’re dealing with slow service or the entrée you ordered tastes terrible.

For new actors, trying to be creative and decisive can create stress. It’s a bit like jumping onto a moving train. But learning how to effectively improvise is within your reach. It won’t take years. You may be amazed at how much you can learn even in just one workshop.

Acting Made Stupid Simple is offering two workshops in the month of September for actors age 16 and up. The first one is in Houston’s Museum District on Saturday September 14 from 1-4 pm. The second is at Spaghetti Warehouse in the West End of Dallas on Saturday September 21 from 1-4 pm. The cost per student is $75 when paying by PayPal (to wordmasseur@gmail.com) and $85 when paying in person by check or cash. Actor Marc Isaacs will serve as the instructor, and you can learn more about him by visiting his IMDb page at http://www.imdb.me/marcisaacs.

SEPTEMBER 14: Contact instructor Marc Isaacs at wordmasseur@gmail.com or text at 713.817.3611 if interested in joining the workshop today. You will get a response with the workshop address. Be sure to bring $85 with you, cash or check accepted.