What Are Sides In Acting? Tips To Help You Stand Out In The Audition Room

What Are Sides In Acting? Tips To Help You Stand Out In The Audition Room

As an actor or student enrolled in an acting degree such as a bachelor of acting, you’ll often be asked to attend auditions and callbacks for projects or productions. While many of us are already familiar with the concept of a script and learning lines, the phrase “sides” or “acting sides” may leave you scratching your head. 


To help you better understand the acting process and hopefully ace your next audition, here is a rundown of what acting slides are and how you can give your best performance in the audition room. 

What Are Acting “Sides”?

Sides sometimes referred to as ‘audition sides’ or ‘script sides’, are script excerpts selected by casting directors and shared with actors as part of the audition process. Usually consisting of just a few scenes or lines of dialogue, sides are a vital tool for casting directors, allowing them to get a sense of actors’ abilities, on-screen presence and natural approach to the character. 

The sides provided to actors may come from an existing script or could be entirely new material featuring adjacent characters in the same storyline. 


Once finalised, sides are usually shared with actors via a casting office a few days before auditions, allowing them to familiarise themselves with characters and develop their interpretation of the material. In some cases, however, actors may only get access to sides when they appear for the audition. This is known as a ‘cold reading’ and requires actors to perform without the benefit of memorisation. 

Five tips for standing out in audition sides


  • Get to know your character

While some actors and their coaches feel that too much preparation undermines a natural performance, there is no doubt that taking the time to familiarise yourself with your character is paramount to a successful audition. 


Get to know your character by asking questions about their backstory and character arc, and use this as a way to understand the motivations behind their actions in the sides provided. 


If your sides have been lifted from an existing script, it can be helpful to take note of the page numbers to understand where the scene takes place in the script. Understanding what part of the story this scene takes place to gain valuable insight into who your character is and who they want to become.

  • Think like a casting director

Think carefully about why the casting director may have chosen this particular excerpt. 


Ask yourself what facets of the character they want to see explored and what skills they’re looking for in your performance. The sides might require a subtle nuance, or maybe your character has to cry, so you’ll need to produce the tears! Regardless, you want to provide an “answer” to the “question” the casting director is posing. 


  • The human element

Put some time into understanding and representing your characters’ human side. Even the nastiest character needs to gain the audience’s empathy on some level, so try to find a moment in the scene to capitalise on this. 


You might do this by exposing your character’s vulnerabilities, exploring their relationship with other characters in the scene or by finding an unexpected element of love and tenderness in the sides. 

  • Personality 

One way to imprint yourself on casting directors’ minds is to let your unique personality shine through.


Stand out from the crowd by engaging in conversation with the team in the room. Ask questions that will add meat to the bones of your performance. If the director or producer has been involved in other projects, watch them and take note of their particular style to inform your own performance. 


By demonstrating your interest and curiosity, you’re giving them a taste of the unique perspective and passion you could bring to the role.


  • Bring your sides

While most casting directors prefer to see actors performing memorised scenes, always remember to bring a hardcopy of your sides – you don’t want to get the casting team offside in the first few minutes by asking them to print off a copy! Moreover, stress will never lead to a good audition, so having the slides on hand removes the fear of forgetting lines and allows you to put all your energy into giving an impressive performance.


Acting, like any other skill, takes practice and experience to master. Once you learn the method behind a performance, you’ll be able to bring your character to life effortlessly. If you find that you’re struggling to perform your best in the audition room or want to level up your performance with some acting training, a bachelor of acting or an acting degree will be the best path. 

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