Mastering The Cold Reading Process
By - The Actor's Life
So, what's a cold reading... Is it about the temperature
in the room. Is it about the script?
Put simply - if your auditioning you'll need to know about the cold
reading. It is basically getting handed a script - and acting the
part with little or no preparation.
Most of the time, when an actor is performing, you'll get time to
look at the lines, memorize them and put some time into thinking
about the character. However, sometimes when you get cast in a film
or a television commercial - you won't get the script until the very
last minute. This is when practice and skill at the cold reading
will become very important.
So, what are some techniques that you can use to become better at
Well, the first thing to think about is working on cold reading
techniques with your acting teacher or coach. Working with your
coach and having them tape or video tape you is a great way to
discover some of your bad habits.
If you don't have a coach or a teacher, and you'd like to practice
on your own - try it with anything written. Just pick up a newspaper
or a book or a script. Look at the first line or two - immediatley
make a choice about how you'll perform it - and say the line out
loud. That's it. That's a cold reading.
At first you'll want to do it over and over again until you get it
right. And, sometimes you'll have difficulty memorizing more than
one or two lines. But keep practicing. Try memorizing as much as you
can. Try making different choices about the character or what's
going on - without reading ahead of course. That's the whole point.
It's your choice about how to read the character.
Once you're feeling comfortable, try it with a partner. Read the
lines with a partner. Always remember that you should be listening
to your partner - and that this is as big a part of acting as is
saying your lines. So, only look at your lines as you need to - when
you're ready to speak, glance down and have a quick look. Memorize
briefly - then make a creative choice - and speak.
The key is to make a choice.
If, during an audition, you get a few minutes to look at the script
before you go on - try to go all the way through it at a glance. Try
and glean just the essence of your character so that the choices you
make during the cold reading will be stronger.
Don't worry too much about feeling a bit awkward about the cold
reading. It's an awkward process and tends to go a bit slower than
the actual scene will play when you actually know it and run through
it for real. The goal of the cold reading is to discover what kind
of choices you'll make as an actor. This is what shows the true
talent of the actor and helps the casting director to find an actor
who will make original choices that are interesting to watch.
And that's the key. Make choices. Be interesting - and be in the
In fact, enjoy the moment.